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  • Ex-Yanukovych Aide To Be Removed From EU Sanctions List: Sources
    RFE/RL Rikard Jozwiak Feb 22, 2019 12:20 GMT

    BRUSSELS -- The European Union is set next week to remove Andriy Klyuyev, the head of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovychs presidential administration, from its sanctions list, but the assets freeze on Yanukovych and 11 of his associates are likely to be prolonged by another year, according to several sources familiar with issue.

    EU ambassadors are expected to make the decision when they meet in Brussels on February 27.

    The move comes after a ruling by the EUs general court in July which said that the blocs restrictive measures against Klyuyev for 2017-18 should be annulled.

    He did, however, remain on the sanctions list as the asset freeze was prolonged by one year in March 2018, with a separate ruling for the new sanctions period necessary to be delisted.

    In the July ruling, the court concluded that since Klyuyev informed the European Council that Ukrainian criminal proceedings against him had been suspended before the renewal of the bloc's restrictive measures, the council should have sought clarification on the issue from Ukrainian authorities.

    Several sources told RFE/RL that the lack of compelling evidence from Ukraine has forced the EU to consider removing Klyuyev from the list.

    Andriys brother, Serhiy Klyuyev, was removed from the same sanctions list last year. Serhiy, who was a businessman and lawmaker from Yanukovych's Party of Regions, was the nominal owner of Mezhyhirya, the lavish Yanukovych residence outside Kyiv that is now a museum.

    The EU imposed asset freezes against Yanukovych and his inner circle shortly after the collapse of his government in February 2014.

    The bloc accused Yanukovych and his collaborators of misappropriation of Ukraine's state funds.

    Apart from the former president, the restrictive measures still include his son, Oleksandr Yanukovych, and the former Prime Ministers Mykola Azarov and Serhiy Arbuzov.

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • Ukraine President Signs Constitutional Amendment On NATO, EU Membership
      RFE/RL Feb 19, 2019 19:50 GMT

      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a constitutional amendment committing the country to becoming a member of NATO and the European Union.

      Addressing parliament on February 19, Poroshenko said he saw securing Ukraine's membership in NATO and the EU as his "strategic mission."

      Ukraine should "submit a request for EU membership and receive a NATO membership action plan no later than 2023," the president told the Verkhovna Rada.

      However, he acknowledged that his country needs to come a "long way" to meet the criteria of joining both institutions.

      European Council President Donald Tusk attended the signing of the constitutional amendment in the parliament building.

      Addressing the lawmakers in Ukrainian, Tusk, who is Polish, said that "there can be no Europe without Ukraine.

      He also warned Ukrainian politicians against using populist and nationalist tactics ahead of the March 31 presidential election, in which Poroshenko is running for a second five-year term.

      "Go around temptations of radical nationalism and populism, as you have done so far," Tusk said in his speech.

      The EU official also warned lawmakers against "internal conflicts," which he said only benefit "that third country," hinting at Russia.

      Tusk is on a three-day visit to Ukraine, which is commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Euromaidan protests, which led to the ouster of Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

      Following Yanukovych's downfall, Russia seized and annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in March 2014.

      Moscow is also supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.
      With reporting by dpa, AFP, and AP

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      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • RFE/RL Christopher Miller February 20, 2019 13:36 GMT
        It Was A Tragedy Then. We Have Another Tragedy Now.' Ukrainians Rue Lack Of Justice For Euromaidan Killings

        KYIV -- Olha Pasko and Valentina Riklyvska shed solemn tears as they hang paper angels on a hedgerow running along Kyiv's Institutska Street, the site of a bloody and decisive confrontation exactly five years ago between pro-democracy protesters and security forces during Ukraine's Euromaidan uprising.

        But the women recall the events, which cleaved the country and ousted a pro-Moscow president but also set the stage for a Russian invasion and a five-year war, as if they were yesterday.

        "I was making food in the [field] kitchen to support our Maidan," Pasko, who made frequent trips from her nearby office to aid the protest effort, says of February 19, 2014.

        Both women's memories are especially vivid when it comes to the heavily armed security forces opening fire on their fellow Ukrainians here, spilling their blood into the cracks between well-worn cobblestones.
        A priest stands in the lobby of the Hotel Ukraine, surrounded by the bodies of Euromaidan protesters killed during clashes with riot police in Kyiv on February 20, 2014.

        "Fire and smoke were everywhere," Pasko says. "It was a war."

        Riklyvska can still see the limp, bleeding bodies being carried on stretchers to medical stations on Independence Square, dubbed Maidan.

        "Many of them were so young," she says, gesturing toward the faces on faded makeshift memorials at spots where protesters were cut down by gunfire -- tree trunks used for cover, a barrier beside the entrance to a hotel whose lobby was transformed into an operating room, the base of a footbridge where the protesters' last barricade stood. "It's an absolute shame."

        The paper angels the women are hanging were made by students at a school for the blind to be placed here to watch over their souls, they explain.

        While great attention has been paid by Ukraine's civil society to those who were killed, known as the Heavenly Hundred, Pasko, Riklyvska, and many other Ukrainians feel that authorities have devoted too little attention to the question of justice.
        Antigovernment protesters stand behind burning barricades during a face-off against police in Kyiv on February 20, 2014.

        "It was a terrible tragedy then. And we have a terrible tragedy now," Riklyvska says. She claims that politicians prefer instead to pay lip service and simply lay flowers to the victims.

        Petro Poroshenko, the post-Euromaidan president facing a tough reelection battle next month after stalling on crucial judicial reforms and failing to prosecute organizers of the Euromaidan killings, escorted European Council President Donald Tusk to the site on February 19 to pay tribute to the Heavenly Hundred.

        Meanwhile, the status of the official investigation into the killings appears to be up for debate, to the chagrin of many Ukrainians.

        By the end of 2018, the Prosecutor-General's Office had identified 441 suspects, most of them former law enforcement officers but also city administration officials, prosecutors, and judges, according to research by Amnesty International.
        A man places flowers at the memorial to the Heavenly Hundred in Kyiv on February 20.

        In all, 288 individual cases were said to have been sent to court. Fifty-two cases had already resulted in court decisions, including 48 convictions, but only nine custodial sentences were handed down, Amnesty International added. None of those given a prison sentence was a former police officer, the group said, nor had anyone ever identified as ordering or carrying out the February 20, 2014, killings been found and put on trial.

        A Ukrainian court last month found the president who was in charge at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, guilty in absentia of treason and undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity when he invited Russia to intervene militarily amid the unrest. The accompanying 13-year sentence was applauded in Kyiv, but Yanukovych, who is safely residing under state protection in Russia, is unlikely to serve a day of jail time.

        On February 1, Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko announced that his office had completed its probe and was ready to take the resulting cases to court.

        But he was contradicted two days later by his own chief of special investigations, Serhiy Horbatiuk, who said "the investigation is not over."

        "Five years is a long time to wait when it comes to justice, and for most victims who suffered at the hands of Ukrainian police, justice is still not even in sight," Colm O Cuanachain, senior director at the Office of the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, said in Kyiv on February 19. "Promises were made, strong words were said by the post-Yanukovych authorities, but time and facts speak volumes."

        He added: "Until all those responsible, including those in command, are brought to account, there can be no sense of justice."

        In a symbolic move, the Ukrainian government has broken ground on a new Maidan memorial that will run the length of Institutska Street, now also known as Avenue Of The Heavenly Hundred.

        Yuriy Kovalchuk, a retired teacher who protested on Independence Square in 2014 and returned to the site on February 19, says he appreciates the gesture but it does not compensate for the lack of accountability over the deaths of his friends and fellow protesters.

        "A hundred people paid with their lives...They gave Ukraine everything they had," he says, running his hand over his face. Gesturing to a rendering of the new memorial and two stones marking what will be its entrance, he adds: "They're only given some rocks to remember them."

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • 'Banderite' Rebrand: Ukrainian Police Declare Admiration For Nazi Collaborators To Make A Point
          RFE/RL Christopher Miller Feb 13, 2019 09:24 GMT

          KYIV -- Across social media, Ukrainian police and law enforcement officials are apologizing for one officer's slur aimed at far-right ultranationalists and making it known: They, too, are "#Banderites." Or, to be clear, supporters of militant Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

          National Police chief Serhiy Knyazev says he is one. So does Interior Ministry and National Police spokesman Artem Shevchenko. Interior Ministry adviser Zoryan Shkyryak is, too.

          From the top on down, cops and their bosses are lining up to air their admiration for Stepan Bandera, a hero to many Ukrainians whose Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military arm, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), fought both Soviet and Nazi forces during World War II but is also accused of carrying out murderous campaigns against Poles and Jews.*

          The #IamaBanderite (#Ҧ in Ukrainian) hashtag appeared on February 10, a day after a riot-police officer used the derogatory play on Bandera's name during a violent confrontation with dozens of ultranationalists at a campaign event in Kyiv for presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko.

          The interlopers had come to the event to demand justice for an acid attack that killed civic activist Kateryna Handzyuk amid a rash of violence against activists. Carrying signs that asked, "Who ordered the attack on Handzyuk?" they called for Kherson regional-council head Vladyslav Manher, a recently suspended member of Tymoshenko's party, to be arrested for his alleged role as its organizer.

          On February 11, two days after the clash, Manher received an official notice of suspicion from Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko.

          Videos of the violence that circulated online showed police in riot gear scuffling with the group, which included members of the far-right C14 organization. Some members of the group, which is said to take its name from a 14-word phrase used by White supremacists and has openly offered its members out as paid thugs, were behind violent attacks on Romany camps in Kyiv last year.

          In one video, officers are seen throwing some of the far-right protesters to the ground, and one is heard shouting, "On the ground, Banderite!"

          Police detained but later reportedly released 18 people, citing a lack of evidence that would justify their continued detention.

          But prosecutors on February 11 said they had opened criminal proceedings against the far-right group for hooliganism, causing bodily harm, and the seizure of a public building. Meanwhile, an investigation was opened against police officers involved for excessive use of force.

          But it wasn't the violence or the message that caught the public's attention. It was the "Banderite" slur that sparked an outpouring of criticism from Ukrainians on social media.

          "I personally, as the chief of police in Kyiv, want to apologize to society for the actions of this officer," Andriy Kryshchenko said in a video statement posted to the Interior Ministry Facebook account on January 10. "Out of conviction and because of my understanding of the historical situation in Ukraine, I consider it unacceptable."

          "Undoubtedly, this employee will be punished," the Kyiv chief of police vowed. "In addition, some obscene vocabulary was used. We have to do something about this."

          Within hours, the country's most senior law enforcement officials and countless police officers had embarked on a sort of social-media apology tour that saw them aligning themselves with the late Nazi collaborator.

          "I apologize. I am a Banderite, too! Glory to Ukraine!" wrote Knyazev, the chief of the Ukrainian National Police, in a post on his Facebook page that has been shared nearly 400 times.

          When asked to clarify whether the hashtag was meant in earnest or was ironic, Shevchenko, the police spokesman, told RFE/RL by phone that it was "both." He said Shkyryak, the Interior Ministry adviser, was the man behind the campaign. Shkyryak could not immediately be reached for comment.

          But Shkyryak posted to Facebook around the same time as Knyazev a photograph of himself sitting beneath a painting of Bandera. "I work in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. This is my office," he wrote in the caption. "I am also a Banderite and I am proud of it! Bandera, my hero!"

          He said invoking the derogatory version of Bandera's name by an officer in ordering a suspect to the ground was "shameful and unacceptable!" At the same time, he said he did not support "violent actions" or "attempts to seize state buildings" by groups who want to "destabilize, stoke panic and despair in society."

          The three officials and many more officers, as well as civilian supporters, joined in the campaign using the hashtag.

          But not everyone appreciated the sentiment.

          In a post on Facebook on February 10, Eduard Dolinsky, head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, a leading Jewish advocacy group, pointed out that the dust-up that spawned the hashtag occurred on the anniversary of a mass killing of Poles by Bandera's UPA.

          "Yesterday, February 9, was the anniversary of the first massacre of Poles by Banderites," he wrote. "In the village of Parosl, the UPA cut down more than 150 children, women, and men."

          He added: "Today, the police are holding an 'I am a Banderite!' flash mob. Maybe you're better off holding an 'I am a Pole!' flash mob.

          æ, !

          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • UNA Forum
            THE UKRAINIAN WEEKLY Irene Jarosewich February 22, 2019
            2019: The 125th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Association

            The year of events will begin on Friday, February 22, in Shamokin, Pa., the city where the Ukrainian National Association (UNA) was established exactly on that day in 1894.

            Three members of the UNA Executive Committee, President/CEO Stefan Kaczaraj, COO/National Secretary Yuriy Symczyk and CFO/Treasurer Roma Lisovich, will travel to Shamokin to receive a proclamation from Mayor John Brown congratulating the UNA on its 125th anniversary and commemorating Shamokin as the UNAs birthplace.

            United by the bond of our common Ukrainian heritage, the UNA was established as a fraternal insurance society to protect our people from the stress of financial uncertainty, noted Mr. Kaczaraj. We have done this successfully for more than 12 decades truly a unique legacy in Americas history. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were more than 600 fraternal insurance societies. Now there are less than 100. We are one of them. This is a testament both to the commitment of the UNA to our members and our community, as well as the loyalty of our members and our community to the UNA. I am proud to say that, for 125 years, the UNA has been insuring our community.

            UNA: Insuring Our Community for 125 Years is the theme for the anniversary year, and a jubilee logo was designed by Nadiya Folk to reflect this milestone achievement. Throughout 2019, the UNA will introduce special programs and benefits to celebrate the 125th anniversary, among them a restructured youth scholarship benefit, as well as a charitable giving benefit. In addition, the anniversary will be actively promoted at festivals and community events throughout America and Canada. For a good sense of UNA achievements through the decades, a photo archive of UNA history has been posted for viewing on the UNA website:

            The finale for the year will be a grand concert Celebrating 125 Years! that will be held Saturday, November 2. The concert will include performers from the United States, Canada and Ukraine. Among the performances will be dynamic dances by the world-renowned Ukrainian Shumka Dancers from Canada, as well as the lyrical sounds of the bandura by the Womens Bandura Ensemble of North America. Also performing will be virtuoso violinist Vasyl Popadiuk.

            The venue for the concert is Dolan Performance Hall, a state-of-the-art theater on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, N.J. Easily accessible both by car and public transportation, the theater is centrally located for dozens of major Ukrainian communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and other states in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast from which guests will be traveling. For those planning to travel for more than just the evening, the theater is near hotels and a train station, close to major airports, and an easy trip into Manhattan.

            In mid-2018, the UNA 125 Committee was established to plan and manage anniversary events. The committee chair is UNA General Assembly member Bohdana Puzyk. I consider this to be a great honor to have been asked to chair a committee that will plan the celebrations of such an auspicious year honoring 125 years of the UNAs continuous service to the Ukrainian communities in the United States and Canada. For generations, the UNA has been a powerful force for keeping Ukrainians in the diaspora united, through our newspapers, our publishing house, summer camps for children, scholarships for students, and major efforts such as the monument of Taras Shevchenko in Washington D.C., as well as numerous projects to battle against Soviet disinformation. We have much of which to be proud, UNA Advisor Puzyk commented.

            She added, To help plan this year, I am fortunate to be working with a very talented and dedicated team that includes Nadiya Symczyk Folk, Roma Hadzewycz, Roman Hirniak, Irene Jarosewich, Myron Kolinsky, Roma Lisovich, Eugene Osidacz, Eugene Serba, Tanya Soltys, Oksana Stanko, Yuriy Symczyk and Luba Walchuk, UNA Advisor Puzyk commented.

            The Mission of the UNA

            In 1894, the establishment of the UNA was driven by the need to help the thousands of new immigrants arriving from Ukraine who worked dangerous jobs in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. Deaths were frequent, and young widows did not have the ability to pay for a funeral, much less receive future income. From the original burial policies that paid funeral expenses and provided income to the bereaved families, the UNA expanded into a full-service insurance provider with tens of thousands of members.

            The distinction of being a fraternal insurance society is important. As a fraternal society, the UNA is a not-for-profit association. Proceeds from the sale of insurance products are not given to anonymous investors; rather, proceeds go directly to provide benefits to UNA members and to Ukrainian communities.

            In keeping with a resolution adopted at the 39th Regular Convention of the UNA held in May 2018, special emphasis will be focused throughout the year towards growing the endowment fund for UNA publications.

            Communications are essential to maintaining the UNA network and serving our communities, both in print or electronically, said Mr. Symczyk. The UNA newspaper Svoboda, which began publication in 1893, a year before the founding of the UNA, strongly advocated for the establishment of this fraternal society. The UNA is indebted to the first editor of Svoboda, the Rev. Hryhoriy Hrushka, who consistently wrote about the vital need for Ukrainians to come together and help each other. The UNA has a long history of promoting the interests of Ukraine and Ukrainians through the written word and, while it may now deliver the information in different formats besides on paper, most notably electronically through e-mails, social media and websites the need for good writing, good editing, good content remains. The UNA Publication Endowment Fund will support this goal of sustaining quality communication.

            Throughout 2019, information about the UNA and 125th anniversary events and activities will be available through the UNA publications Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, both in print and online ( and, on the UNA website (, as well as by following Ukrainian Na
            tional Association on Facebook.

            Irene Jarosewich is an advisor on the UNA General Assembly.

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Diane Francis Feb 28, 2019
              Why Poroshenko Doesnt Deserve a Second Term

              Ukraine needs a change.

              The latest scandal, involving allegations of massive profiteering from the war against Russia by well-connected Ukrainians, proves the need for a new leader in the upcoming presidential election.

              Allegations are that the son of a close business partner of President Petro Poroshenko sold smuggled Russian parts to Ukrainian defense factories at wildly inflated pricesfactories that his father oversaw as deputy head of Ukraines Security and Defense Council. The father, Oleg Hladkovskiy, has been temporarily relieved of his position, and the son and others are proclaiming their innocence.

              The independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau has started an investigation. But it is unlikely that the detectives will complete it before the election and, even if it eventually lays charges, prosecutors and judges are mostly corrupt.

              The allegations appear solid, backed by documents and contracts, and led high-profile reform MPs within Poroshenkos factionMustafa Nayem, Sergei Leshchenko, and Svitlana Zalishchukto leave his party. Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist, said Hladkovskiy was one of the presidents closest associates in politics and the two had bought holiday homes close to each other in Marbella.

              This isnt the first time that the president has been implicated in corruption, he said, but what gives the revelations more weight is that they come a month before elections, concern corruption in the military sphere, and involve Russia.

              Clearly, Poroshenkos re-election chances have been damaged, but his supporters believe that voters will vote for him because they see him as the best option for taking the country to the West. But that assumption is wrong. Ukraine will never become part of the European Union until it cleans up its act, and Poroshenko has stood in the way.

              Others say Poroshenko is the lesser of evils compared with front-runners, producer and satirist Volodymyr Zelenskiy or former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. That assumption is also wrong. Zelenskiy is an experienced and successful businessman whose hit Servant of the People provided viewers with an impressive guide to Ukraines corrupt overlords as well as a playbook for reform. Tymoshenko, on the other hand, is an experienced politician, but failed to move the dial on corruption. Then there are others such as former Minister of Defense and independent MP Anatoliy Hrytsenko and Lviv Mayor and leader of the Samopomich Party Andriy Sadovyi.

              Poroshenko must go because:

              Despite nearly five years mandate, Poroshenko has not dismantled Ukraines corrupt system of government or taken on the oligarchy.
              Poroshenko has not upheld the rule of law by removing corrupt judges, police or prosecutors, and replacing them with bullet-proof law enforcement institutions. There has not been one high-profile accused convicted in Ukraine, nor charges laid against the odious former President Victor Yanukovych and his henchmen.
              Poroshenko has not protected reform-minded ministers or officials from harassment or obstacles by oligarchs, corrupt government officials, larcenous politicians, and organized crime. His former ministers of finance, infrastructure, and economic development have quit in frustration or are under attack like acting health minister Ulana Suprun.
              Poroshenko has failed to create and protect a free and unfettered press by forcing oligarchs, criminals, and powerful vested interests to divest their media assets.
              Poroshenko has failed to instigate or support the removal of immunity for members of parliament, who sell their seats and votes which is the basis of political corruption in the country.

              Allowing corruption leads to tragedy. One year ago, the naked body of a young activist lawyer was fished out of a river in Kyiv. Her name was Iryna Nozdrovska, and her death came after she took on the countrys corrupt legal system, seeking justice after her sister was killed in 2015 by a drunk driver. The complicating factor was that the culprit was the nephew of a prominent judge, and thus able to manipulate the system, but she took it on and was murdered.

              Another corruption victim was activist Kateryna Handzyuk, who died a slow, horrible death after acid was thrown over 40 percent of her body in Kherson. Her family has had to pursue justice themselves to try and find those responsible.

              Corruption corrodes a nation. It kills people, overcharges for medicines and food, allows unsafe buildings to be built, fails to remove dangerous people from streets and marketplaces, skims tax dollars earmarked for roads, infrastructure or intended to equip and arm soldiers who are in harms way, and repels legitimate investment that grows an economy.

              Five years after the Euromaidan, Ukrainians still live under the yoke of a third-world governance that abuses them. They deserve better, and they will vote for reform on March 31.

              æ, !

              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


              • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Willem Aldershoff Feb 21, 2019
                Why Zelenskiy Is the Only Decent Choice for Ukraine

                Ukraines presidential elections present a difficult choice for those who want to see the country of 44 million finish what it started in 2014. Sadly all reliable opinion polls indicate that experienced reform candidates have no chance of winning. Former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko currently stands at around 8 percent and Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi at 4 percent. It is highly unlikely that either will significantly increase their appeal in the coming six weeks.

                Two candidates with long experience in Ukraines politics have a chance of making it through the first round: President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. However, they have poor reform credentials.

                It is true that on Poroshenkos watch important reforms were implemented, but these were mostly economic in nature. It is also true that Poroshenko promised justice and a rule-of-law society after the Maidan Revolution and there he has failed spectacularly.

                Poroshenko actively frustrated efforts to dismantle Ukraines oligarchic system by blocking real judicial reform, effective anticorruption measures, and electoral reform. Not one member of former President Yanukovychs inner circle was convicted for plundering the country, hardly any of the stolen money was retrieved, and not one leading person responsible for the horrific Maidan killings was convicted. Tymoshenko will forever be associated with the questionable ways in which she amassed a huge fortune early in her career. The years when she was prime minister do not stand out for reforms.

                Polls show that comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy seems best placed to make it to the second round. It is easy to paint the man as a buffoon who has made millions by making fun of Ukraines political problems, as a nave but well-meaning chap, or as an insincere schemer dancing to the tune of a leading oligarch.

                A serious analysis of his record yields a different picture. His Kvartal 95 shows have a long tradition of sharp and profound criticism of Ukraines utterly unfair political system, starting well before the Maidan. He has consistently criticized Russias aggression in Crimea and the Donbas and ridiculed Russian President Vladimir Putin.

                Zelenskiy donated part of the money he earned in Russia to Ukrainians fighting in the Donbas, which led the Russian authorities to open a criminal case against him.

                In his popular TV series Servant of the People, he and his team show a cunning understanding of how Ukraines corrupt system functions and of the fundamental ills facing the country. There is nothing nave about the way they depict the wheelings and dealings of the mighty oligarchs and the plight of the poor.

                It is also no exaggeration to say that Zelenskiy exudes deep patriotism. This clearly appears from the way he and his colleagues deal with the concerns of ordinary Ukrainians in their Kvartal 95 shows throughout the country. One only has to watch the reaction of the audience; young and old in all regions of Ukraine are moved to tears when Zelenskiy and his cast sing poignant songs like Hold Me, Motherland or I Dont Understand, Papa.

                Zelenskiys critics see two problems with his potential presidency: his political inexperience and his alleged closeness to oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskyi. The first is undeniable.

                But should his inexperience disqualify him outright? A committed inexperienced leader who assesses the condition of his country correctly will surround himself with a team of knowledgeable and experienced advisers.

                Some stress that there are links between Kolomoiskyi and Zelenskiy because the comedians TV series is broadcast on the oligarchs 1+1 channel.

                His Kvartal 95 studio moved to that channel only after leaving the channel of another oligarch, Dmitry Firtash. All popular channels in Ukraine and most big companies are owned by oligarchs. Does everyone who works there have reproachable links with the oligarch-owners? Even if a link does exist, it would be hard to believe that Poroshenko and Tymoshenko dont have these relationships either. For example, theres a great deal of speculation that Kolomoiskyi is also betting on Tymoshenko and supporting her candidacy, but since everything is done in untraceable cash in Ukraine, its almost impossible to prove these relationships.

                Ukraines major candidates recently sat down with some of the countrys leading anticorruption organizations and explained their views. Zelenskiy came out on top; he wants to cleanse the prosecutors office, reboot the organization that verifies public officials income declarations, and take away the SBUs anticorruption powers.

                In contrast, Poroshenko hasnt bothered to turn up and doesn't talk about corruption very much on the campaign trail, and Tymoshenko will promise anything.

                The choice for Ukrainian reformers is clear: the only chance to make Ukraine a country without a determining role for oligarchs, with truly democratic institutions and laws that apply to everyone would seem to lay in the election of Zelenskiy.

                To increase his chances of winning, reformers should start to express and explain their support. This will also enable them to forge the necessary bonds of trust with the candidate and ensure that he will be able to choose experienced advisers when the time calls for it.

                In the same vein, the European Union and the United States should start building contacts behind the scenes with the Zelenskiy campaign. A stable, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine is not only what Ukrainians have longed for, but it is also in the vital interest of the West.

                æ, !

                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                • Ukraine cant count on NATO for protection vs the Russian world, ex-NATO rep in Russia Capt Gary Tabach
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS Ekaterina Shumylo 2019/03/18 - 11:47

                  Russians believe that Ukrainians are always wrong, so one should not expect the Russian Federation to acknowledge the elections in Ukraine as democratic, nor will the Kremlin be satisfied with any president elected by the Ukrainian people. This opinion was expressed in an interview with Gary Tabach, retired captain of the US Navy, ex-representative of NATO in Russia.

                  In your opinion, were the Ukrainian authorities right in not allowing Ukrainian citizens residing in Russia to vote in the upcoming elections?

                  I dont know; Im neither a politician nor a diplomat. I believe that either youre a citizen of your country, or youre not, and its absolutely irrelevant where you live. If youre a citizen of a country, then you have the right to vote, and your place of residence shouldnt be so important. I believe that the whole diaspora should go out and vote. When I was watching the elections in Russia, there were long queues standing before the consulates. I was shocked. Where did all these people come from? This just shows how efficiently the Kremlin operates. But, not everyone turned out to vote for Putin; many people opposed him. It doesnt matter who you vote for; its the voter turnout thats important.

                  Lets say that Russia doesnt like the new president or the new parliament in Ukraine. Will they again say that the government is illegitimate, and will they refuse to negotiate?

                  I believe that any president elected by the Ukrainian people wont suit Russia, because Russians think that Ukrainians are always wrong. Its the same with the upcoming elections theyll say that Ukrainians have chosen a fascist. Regarding the legitimacy of the Ukrainian president, what difference does it make to you what Russia thinks or says? Russia believes that Ukraine is an illegitimate state.

                  The expert community believes that Russia has its own candidates, which the Kremlin would like to see as president.

                  If Ukrainians choose a pro-Russian candidate, then theyll be responsible for their choice and theres no need to blame someone else. Personally, I dont see how you can be an ambitious pro-Russian politician in this country. The people will rise up again, the country might split apart and civil war might begin.

                  Ukraine is a democratic country, and no one can predict wholl be the next president. Of course, Ukrainians arent used to such power struggles, so the political scene seems pretty messy and lawless to them. But, just look at whats happening in our congress In the U.S. Congress, the politicians blame and accuse each other all day; they fight and swear; in Israel its a real circus! Such is the cost of democracy.

                  Can Russia destabilize the situation in Ukraine during the elections?

                  Of course, Russias doing it right now. This is one of the biggest problems for Ukraine today; it can create a lot of confusion.

                  And what can it be? Some kind of revolution, protests and rallies, terrorist attacks?

                  Yes, of course, anything may happen: protests, discrimination against the Russian-speaking population, as in the Baltic States, terrorist attacks. I was in Odesa on May 2, 2014 and saw how it all happened; I saw how they organized everything. But over time, the Kremlin will lose this initiative. The more time passes, the more democratic institutions are introduced in Ukraine, and the worse it becomes in Russia both economically and politically, then the more chance Ukraine has to become part of the civilized world. Theres still a lot of work to be done.

                  Do you think Putin has some kind of plan for Donbas, the Azov Sea, or is he just an opportunist?

                  No, Putin is a KGB man, and he can draw up another plan every evening, but hell never act without a plan. This is obvious when we look at how the Kremlin organizes events, how they move and act in a coherent manner. I mean to say that Crimea and Donbas were not spontaneous decisions. They did shoot down a civilian plane spontaneously, their own plane with their own missile in Syria, but that happened because there is no professionalism and nothings being controlled. Theres no solid military structure, no real discipline. Of course, there is discipline and order in Putins mind.

                  Russia doesnt need Donbas as a region now, but its a frozen situation

                  Russia doesnt need Crimea either

                  But, Moscow says Crimea is a part of Russia and invests a lot of money there, but its different in Donbas. How do you see the future of Donbas?

                  I really dont know whats going on in Putins head, but I can definitely say that its far from normal. Hes been in power for such a long time, and we know that power infects peoples brains. Governments and heads of state should change; they can stay from five to ten years, but no more. This is a big problem in the United States. For example, some congressmen remain in office for 40 years! Such politicians are completely estranged from the people and reality. Putins been in power so long that he probably lives in some kind of parallel world.

                  æ, !

                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • I dont know what will happen in Donbas. I know that it will probably become a bleeding wound, like Transnistria and Abkhazia. The moment Putin doesnt like something, hell start pulling strings, shelling and shooting will begin, and hell be in the limelight again.

                    So, Putins goal is to keep Ukraine under his wing?

                    No, thats what he wanted initially. Now, he wants to stop Ukraine from joining NATO.

                    Why have relations between Russia and Belarus deteriorated so much?

                    Russias relations have deteriorated with everyone After all, you cant be friends with a crocodile, and one crocodile cant be friends with another crocodile, because theyll end up devouring one another.

                    But, its not only about Belarus. Kazakhstan doesnt feel very comfortable either, and its a very big and rich country; Russia doesnt want to lose its influence in this country. Theres also an important Russian-speaking population, and theyre worried too. Kazakhstan is shifting to the Latin alphabet; theyre trying to move away from Russia, and thats a big blow to the Kremlin. Everybodys trying to distance themselves from Russia somehow. At the end of the Second World War, everyone wanted to move as far away as possible from Hitler. Its the same now. Putins no longer perceived as a normal individual; hes dangerous, because he has the nuclear bomb, and its impossible to predict what he intends to do.

                    Putin once said: If theres no Russia, then what use is this world?! And, he also said: I am Russia! so, when hes gone, what use will this world be?

                    Is Belarus ready to stand up to Russian aggression? Or will Lukashenko find some diplomatic way to calm the situation down?

                    Lukashenko is very clever, and has long relationship with Putin and Russia. I think that Belarus is just one big partisan unit; but, there are a few traitors in that country.

                    I dont quite understand the cultural nuances between these two countries. You know, until 2014, for me, Ukrainians and Russians were absolutely the same. But, when I began following the Maidan, I realized that I was wrong. Ukrainians protest and rebel; theyre dissatisfied and this dissatisfaction continues today. Thats good In fact, its a good thing not to be always satisfied with your government. I saw that you, Ukrainians, rose up in protest and stood your ground; the people were angry, and I can say that your Cossack blood, you might say, really exists.

                    There are no such things happening in Russia. There have never been any important riots. The Decembrists tried once, and Russian textbooks now say they shouldnt have. I realized that Russians are quite different; they have other values. As for Belarusians, lets wait and see, but theyre much more dependent on Russia. The Baltic countries are also afraid, but theyre in a different situation.

                    Dont you think that the Baltic countries are at risk?

                    Of course. Theyre in NATO, but if Russia takes over their smallest republic Estonia and there are many Russian-speaking people living there, and Moscow will set out to defend this Russian world, I doubt that NATO will go to war with Russia because of Estonia.

                    NATO looks cowardly. So, should Ukraine seek to join NATO?

                    Thats a good question, and I cant give you an answer. In the game of politics and diplomacy, its the trump card that diplomats and politicians will use for their personal advancement. When it comes to war, however, I dont think you can count on NATO.

                    Captain Gary (Yuri) Tabach was born in Moscow, USSR and lived there until 1976 when his family immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation from Temple University School of Pharmacy in 1985, he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. At the end of his career, Captain Tabach served as Chief of Staff for the NATO Military Liaison Mission in Moscow, Russia. There he acted as the liaison between NATOs Military Committee and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. He retired from the Navy in 2011.

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                    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                    • Putin, his position shaky, may begin new aggression with nuclear blackmail, Piontkovsky says
                      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 19/03/17 - 12:22

                      Russia is not in a position to engage in an arms race with the United States, Andrey Piontkovsky says; but Vladimir Putin does have a plan for victory. It involves using nuclear blackmail on the assumption that if he threatens to use nuclear weapons, the West will back down rather than respond to any Russian threat or first use.

                      In the event of a clash between Russian and NATO forces or a Russian invasion of the Baltic countries, the Russian commentator says, Putin plans to say that either you retreat and admit defeat or I will use nuclear weapons. This is the advantage any thug has, Piontkovsky continues.

                      Putin supposes, he says, that in response, the West will retreat and capitulate, and a weaker Russia will defeat a stronger opponent.

                      A major reason he thinks so is that one of the reasons Ukraine did not contest Moscows invasion and annexation of Crimea was that Russia has nuclear weapons and Ukraine does not.

                      This perspective makes Putin much more dangerous than the Kremlin leaders at the end of the Soviet period. After the Cuban missile crisis, they understood that a nuclear confrontation threatens the mutual destruction of all humanity and did not make threats of this kind.

                      Putins approach is that of a thug from the St. Petersburg streets who now in the Kremlin has raised nuclear blackmail to the chief instrument of [Moscows] foreign policy.

                      Because that is the case, one need not fear an arms race as much as the continuing use of nuclear blackmail by Putin.

                      And that is all the more so now when Putins power is shaking, the Putin myth is dead, and his support is falling away. In such circumstances, making such threats and the possibility that they will be believed is all the more likely given that the Kremlin leader likely sees them as a way out of his current doldrums.

                      The recent speech by the chief of the Russian general staff is a clear indication of this and should serve as a warning to the West.

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                      • Crimeans withdraw their referendum vote on 5th anniversary of Russian annexation
                        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Alya Shandra 2019/03/16 - 19:31

                        It appears that the dissatisfaction of many Crimeans with life under Russian occupation is becoming more vocal. On the fifth anniversary of the referendum, which Russia held on 16 March 2014 to legitimize its occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula, the Crimean city of Yalta was plastered with leaflets criticizing life in Russia and calling to withdraw signatures in the sham referendum of 2014.

                        The photos of the leaflets were reportedly posted to Crimean forums. As twitter user wasily_crimea noted, the user who originally posted the photos is now unavailable, being supposedly blocked. However, photos of the leaflets had by that time spread like wildfire in the internet.

                        The leaflets contain 10 reasons for dissatisfaction with life in Russian-occupied Crimea in Russian. Here is a translation:

                        I am withdrawing my signature from the referendum!

                        For this, I have 10 reasons.

                        1. We were promised protection from banderites [derogatory term for Ukrainian nationalists]. Instead, we got a terrorist act in [a school in] Kerch and confidence that this could be repeated in any part of Crimea;
                        2. We were promised high pensions. Instead, we got high prices, in the result of which pensions stayed as miserable as they were in Ukraine;
                        3. We were promised free healthcare. Instead, we got its complete ruination, with a lack of doctors, bad drugs, queues, and closures of hospitals;
                        4. We were promised order in urban administration. Instead we got unreasonable requisitions for renovations and heaps of trash on the streets;
                        5. We were promised deals for the Crimean industry. Instead, we got sanctions and job cuts at factories;
                        6. We were promised assistance for small business. Instead, we got corruption, impunity, and predatory loans in dubious banks;
                        7. We were promised the development of agriculture. Instead, we got the African swine fever, destruction of rice farming, and appearance of salt marshes in North Crimea [due to the lack of water for irrigation which had previously come in from mainland Ukraine];
                        8. We were promised that our unique nature would be protected. Instead, we got a chemical catastrophe in Armiansk, the mass development of quarries, and juniper felling at the South Coast;
                        9. We were promised an iron rule of law. Instead. we got a drug addiction boom, mass knifing with Chechens, and total impunity of the police;
                        10. We were promised millions of tourists each summer. Instead, we got tourist taxes, bureaucracy, and impoverished crowds with state tourist vouchers.

                        We voted for the bright future of our native land, not for joining the state of liars, thieves, and lowlives.

                        If you are also for a normal life in Crimea, share this information in any way possible.

                        The so-called referendum held on 16 March 2014 after unmasked Russian troops seized the Crimean parliament and administrative buildings. According to official data, 83,1% of voters had turned up to the referendum in Crimea. According to the same official data, 96,77 and 95,6% of people respectively, had voted in favor of the accession to Russia. However, according to Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, radio intercepts of the Russian FSB reveal that a much smaller number of Crimeans actually took part in the referendum (34,2%). The ballots contained two questions which left no room for the status quo, of Crimea remaining as an administrative part of Ukraine: Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation and Are you for the restoration of the 1992 Crimean constitution of the Crimean Republic and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?. A massive propaganda campaign had started at the same time urging the Crimeans to vote for the first option.

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                        • Here is how Ukraine can finally prosecute top-corrupt officials
                          EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2019/03/16 - 18:44
                          by Iryna Shyba, head of projects at DEJURE Foundation

                          The winter of 2019 was crucial for Ukraines judicial system: competitions to the key institutions, the High Anti-Corruption Court and the Supreme Court were coming to an end. The former was a success in general, while the latter became a failure. Both are to make decisions on the cases of supreme importance for Ukraine. So far it has been the body of judicial self-governance, the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) which created the main obstacles for fair competitions in both cases and let unworthy candidates enter the key courts. Iryna Shyba, head of projects at DEJURE Foundation, an organization actively involved in the judicial reform described the main challenges which existed during the competitions and explained what needs to happen for the court to be really independent.

                          On 6 March 2019, the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) announced the results of the competition to the High Anti-Corruption Court (HAC) and to the Supreme Court (SC). 8 candidates whom civil society organizations had determined unworthy of this position a few months ago were among the winners of the HAC. The Public Integrity Council, a body created of civil society members to assist the HQCJ in assessing the integrity and professional ethics of judges, found 16 winners of the competition to the Supreme Court to have a sleazy reputation. Why the competition to the HAC is a success and to the Supreme Court is a failure will be explained lower.

                          It was the first time in the history of Ukraine that international experts had assessed judicial candidates. The Public Council of International Experts (PCIE) included well-known experts who worked as prosecutors or judges themselves and pressed charges/considered cases of top corruption in Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Lithuania, and Macedonia.

                          This Council had a right to ban a candidate if he or she does not show a sufficient level of proficiency or integrity. The PCIE members applied the highest standard of proof candidates were obliged to refute all reasonable doubts and to prove that they are worthy to become HAC judges. 49 candidates tried to do so at the joint meetings of the PCIE and the HQCJ, and 42 of them failed.

                          Four civil society organizations (DEJURE Foundation, Anti-Corruption Action Centre, Transparency International, and Automaidan) informed that they earlier had doubts about eight of the winners. However, three of these candidates (Chorna, Voronko, and Bilous) were interviewed by international experts who decided that their integrity issues had been lifted. Other candidates provided their explanations in writing.

                          In total, international experts banned 37% of candidates from the competition based on a reasonable doubt about the level of their proficiency or integrity. The HQCJ claimed that this result was their joint effort.

                          On the contrary, in the Supreme Court competition that took place at the same time, the HQCJ overruled 16 out 31 negative opinions of the Public Integrity Council (PIC). The PIC, a national institution composed of civic activists, attorneys, journalists (all working as volunteers), does not have an absolute veto right as the PCIE does. Even if the PIC finds a candidate to be dishonest, he or she can still be appointed if the majority of HQCJ members vote for such a decision.

                          The dubious candidates whom the HQCJ helped remain in the competition include three members of another judicial governance body, the High Council of Justice (HCJ) Ihor Benedysiuk, Natalia Volkovytska, Tetiana Malashenkova.

                          The HCJ has to ensure the independence of judges and assess their compliance with judicial ethics. As members of the HCJ, the three candidates made zero efforts to investigate facts of political pressure on judges during the Euromaidan Revolution, leading to courts participating in the governments repression of activists, and to bring the so-called Maidan judges who abused the law to repress activists, to justice.

                          Moreover, they may have broken the law themselves.

                          For example, Ihor Benedysiuk illegally accepted a ceremonial weapon from the President. The Head of the HCJ was many times questioned by the journalists about his Russian citizenship, but never replied dual citizenship is not allowed in Ukraine.

                          All the candidates supported issuing a reprimand to judge Vitaliy Radchenko, who issued a permit to conduct a search on the office of the odious Kyiv District Administrative Court head Pavlo Vovk, suspected of corruption and implementing orders from the government. Many activists and politicians believed this was an attempt of exerting political pressure against a judge.

                          Other winners of the competition to the Supreme Court also violated human rights, made politically motivated decisions, had close ties to high-level politicians.
                          Why the competition to the Supreme Court is so important for the Anti-Corruption reform

                          The Criminal Cassation Court within the Supreme Court will consider the cases of the top-corruption as the last instance.

                          A year ago, five dubious candidates were already appointed to the Criminal Cassation Court after the first competition to the Supreme Court. Among them are Viacheslav Nastavniy and Serhiy Slynko, who made politically motivated decisions in the cases of Pavlichenko and Lutsenko. Stanislav Kravchenko who was accused by the PIC of lying in the declaration became the Head of the court.

                          As a result of the second competition to the Supreme Court, two more dubious candidates may become judges of the Criminal Cassation Court.

                          --Svitlana Vus, an ex-judge of the Supreme Court of Ukraine who did not declare her real estate and adopted decisions violating human rights.
                          --Serhiy Yeremeichuk, a judge of the appeal court from Rivne who couldnt explain the origin of his assets and was accused in biased/prejudice consideration of cases.

                          Is there a chance to prevent the appointment of these candidates?

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                          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                          • Corruption Pt 2
                            You might be surprised to learn that the High Council of Justice (HCJ) is the institution that has a final say in the judicial appointment process. After the competition is over, it still has to review the profiles of each candidate and decide if he or she should be appointed. According to the Law On Judiciary and status of Judges the HCJ may reject a candidate who won a competition based on 2 reasons:

                            1. the existence of reasonable doubt as to whether the candidate meets the criteria of integrity or professional ethics or other circumstances that may adversely affect public confidence in the judiciary in connection with such appointment;
                            2. violation of the procedure for appointment as a judge determined by law.

                            The plenary sessions of the HCJ on the candidates will be held on March 18-20. The HCJ should consider 117 candidates (39 to the HAC and 78 to the SC) over three days. This means that the HCJ will spend at most 12.5 minutes for each candidate.

                            For example, last year the HCJ spent eight days to interview 120 candidates to the Supreme Court and only two were not recommended to the President. The HCJ also ignored 29 negative opinions of the PIC saying they were already assessed by the HQCJ. So, the HCJ would assess only new information.

                            This means that the HCJ most probably will recommend appointing all the candidates, including its members.

                            By the way, the law does not prohibit HCJ members from taking part in the competition, but it also does not propose any solution for resolving ethical issues. Of course members of the HCJ who won in the competition to the SC will abstain from the voting to avoid conflict of interest; however, their colleagues will still need to vote for them.

                            As we saw earlier, the HCJ members are not just in more favorable positions due to their status, they also have a possibility to exclude competitors from the race through disciplinary cases.

                            Judge Larysa Holnyk, who is known in Ukraine and abroad as a whistleblower-judge, was reprimanded by the HCJ just before the competition to the HAC started. The imposition of a disciplinary penalty prevented Holnyk from taking part in the contest and becoming a HAC judge. Recently, the Supreme Court found this decision of the HCJ illegal.

                            Some members of the HCJ might have other conflicts of interest. In this case, they should refuse to participate in the consideration of a matter, to not cast doubts about their impartiality.

                            Is banning dubious candidates enough for a good Anti-Corruption Court?

                            In order to ensure the independence of the Higher Anti-Corruption Court, it is also necessary to choose a worthy head of the apparatus and employees of the court apparatus. Currently, the provisional head of the apparatus of this court is Oleksiy Zhukov, an ex-prosecutor of the Prosecutor Generals Office who has ambivalent political ties. As the competition for the permanent office of the head of the court apparatus was not yet announced, the risk of Zhukov being transferred to the post of permanent head of the apparatus of the anti-corruption court without any competition remains.

                            As well, the HCJ might still pressure the Anti-corruption court judges through the disciplinary cases like they did with Holnyk.

                            The participation of international experts with strong veto powers contributed to the Anti-corruption court being completed successfully. However, this success might be negated by the composition of the Criminal Cassation Court of the Supreme Court that will consider cases of top corruption as a third instance, manipulations from the apparatus of the HAC, or due to pressure on the judges through disciplinary cases.

                            To mitigate those risks, an independent anti-corruption chamber should be created with the involvement of international experts. Experts also call to change the composition of the judicial governance bodies tasked with selection and disciplinary functions (the HQCJ and HCJ). The bodies should be composed of at least 50% public sector representatives whom society trusts (human rights activist, journalists, representatives of specialized NGOs) and/or reputable foreign experts. Only this measure can provide effective judicial governance.

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                            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                            • Moscow plans to have a million youths in its Youth Army within a year
                              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/03/16 - 11:43

                              In a dangerous indication that the militarization of Russian society is occurring rapidly and that this will cast a shadow far into the future, Russian officials say that nearly 350,000 youths in Russia today are members of the Kremlins Youth Army today and that a million will be within a year.

                              The first targets for recruitment are those in childrens homes (detdomovtsy), a category of young people that the Soviets routinely viewed as the most easily molded into dedicated communists and soldiers and from whom came any number of senior party officials and senior commanders.

                              Now, however, with communism in the past, Russian officials are recruiting such young people for entirely military goals, providing them with military and paramilitary instruction and encouraging them to think in military categories, a development that will create a rising class of people who will be more than ready to engage in military actions abroad or even at home.

                              At present, Russian officials say, there are more than 1600 childrens homes and resident schools and that many of those in these institutions have anything but a good life:

                              10 percent have tried to commit suicide,
                              40 percent have engaged in criminal activities, and
                              40 percent have become alcoholics or drug abusers.

                              The Youth Army is thus being presented as a means of saving these children from a life of crime; but it is being made up of people who may be willing to take orders but who want to engage in asocial activities, a feature that makes the Youth Army anything but a positive development in Putins Russia.

                              The All-Russian Children-Youth Military Patriotic Movement Youth Army was set up in the summer of 2016 at the initiative of the Ministry of Defense with the support of the President, Aleksey Tarasov of Novaya gazeta says, as an umbrella organization that included more than 5,000 groups involved in preparing people for the draft.

                              But now it has been transformed into something more, including calls for it to provide guards at military-industrial plants and be ready for other services to the government, actions that promote the militarization of the consciousness of young people now and likely the continued militarization of Russian society for decades to come.

                              Already, Tarasov says, schools have received instructions how to operate in war time. The president has declared that all major enterprises regardless of the form of property must be prepared to transfer to military rails, yet other ways in which this militarization of Russian society is proceeding.

                              Stalin set up Suvorov military academies to promote such values. But now, there are too few of these and cadet corps; it is necessary to embrace all of childhood and youth. It thus seems that the Youth Army would have a role even if the draft were ended; and both young people and Russian society are clearly being affected in profound ways.

                              Young boys and girls enrolling into the local Youth Army unit at the town of Apatity, Murmansk Oblast, Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry founded the Youth Army troops for children from 8 to 18 years old in 2016. (Photo:

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                              • Five years of Kremlins falsehoods: Was it worth the while for Russia?
                                EUROMAIDAN PRESS EUs East StratCom Task Force 2019/03/18 - 23:52

                                2014 saw a myriad of Ukraine-related falsehoods coming from the Kremlin and the media it controls.

                                First, in March that year, the little green men in Crimea were unmasked as Russian military. Later in the spring, people in the allegedly local militias in eastern Ukraine also turned out to be soldiers deployed from Russia. When the summer came, and Russian troops shot down a civilian airliner over eastern Ukraine, Moscow again decided not to tell the truth, opting for multiple and contradictory theories about what had happened.

                                Now, five years later, a Russian commentator concludes that the Kremlins credibility has been undermined and that Moscow stands considerably more isolated than it did before 2014.

                                As if we are preparing the country for war

                                In an article titled What Crimea Has Already Cost Russia, which was published last week by the Russian magazine The New Times, journalist and political scientist Alexander Morozov takes a look at the consequences the Ukrainian campaign and the disinformation have had for his country, Russia.

                                According to Morozov, Russia after 2014 has fundamentally changed. He now sees another Russia different from what it was and how it was perceived at all previous stages of the post-Soviet development.

                                The role of propaganda has been profound in this change, Morozov underlines, recalling concerns expressed by Russias former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov in one of his last interviews before his passing in 2015, in which he called the coverage in Russia of events in Ukraine exaggerated [] as if we are preparing the country for war.

                                Watch also:

                                But Russia has not only changed on the inside; the countrys image among the international community has also undergone transformation: Now the Russian trace is analyzed everywhere, Morozov says, and refers to Western measures to counter the Kremlins disinformation campaign: Russian global communications with the outside world have come under a searchlight, under an x-ray. What was previously considered dubious, but acceptable, has suddenly become toxic. The Kremlin has turned from a partner, albeit a problematic one, into the holder of some rat holes, catacombs [] There is still a long period of exposing the Kremlin ahead of us, Morozov writes.

                                The Novorossiya project

                                Morozov also addresses the Novorossiya project, i.e. the threats of annexing not only Crimea but also other parts of Ukraine, including the countrys entire south coast, which were central to the propaganda in 2014, but gradually became downplayed following the sanctions imposed in Russia by the EU and other parts of the international community.


                                However, in Morozovs view, the memory of the Novorossiya plan is still vivid and has forever been recorded in the history of Eastern Europe. There is no argument that would distinguish this from the history of the division of Poland or the occupation of the Baltic countries. Whatever the further historical destiny of the Crimea will be, this blatant malice from the Kremlin towards a neighboring people in the 21st century has been written in large and black letters, Morozov argues.

                                Crimea is a poison

                                For the last five years, Kremlin-loyal Russian media has promoted a narrative about how Crimeas annexation is gradually becoming accepted and the peninsulas status normalized.

                                But Alexander Morozov disagrees with this narrative. On the contrary, he sees Crimea as a persisting problem for Russia: Crimea is a poison that has continuously been injected for five years in small doses into the body of the whole system of Russian education, culture and the entire system of argumentation over national identity, he writes, and continues: We have to continually invent, distribute and discuss on talk shows the various arguments of lies that justify Crimea. This lie must be incorporated in school textbooks, in film plots, in the system of legal education of bureaucrats, in all the pores and gaps of the social space. Society [] cannot admit that it participated in the attempt to divide Ukraine, Morozov argues.

                                Finally, Morozov describes what he sees as a systemic and long-lasting consequence for Russia of the Crimean adventure: This perversion of the mind turns into a big machine, which cannot then be removed from the state without harming the whole body. An equality sign appears between this machine of lies and the state. And this means that Crimea swells up like a bubble inside the system. It cannot be localized. Cancer cells inside the entire state and public tissue disseminate from it every day, he concludes.

                                The disinformation and the debunks

                                Below are three examples of Ukraine-related disinformation from the early period of the conflict watch the videos and follow the links to the articles to also see how it was demonstrated that these stories were constructed and simply hoaxes.

                                On 12 July 2014, the state TV channel Pervyi Kanal interviewed a woman who claimed to have witnessed the crucifixion of a three-year child by Ukrainian nationalists. However, bloggers and journalists from Ukraine and Russia could quickly prove that the woman was an actor and the story was a hoax.

                                On 14 July 2014 just two days after Pervyi Kanal broadcast the staged story about the crucified boy Russians troops deployed to eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airways Flight MH17. Watch how RT uncritically relayed the Russian Ministry of Defences narrative (from 21 July 2014) and compare with Bellingcats critical overview, The Kremlins Shifting, Self-Contradicting Narratives on MH17.

                                In April 2015, the Russian TV channel NTV claimed that a ten-year-old girl had been killed by Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine, echoing the disinformation story about the crucified boy from the year before. A BBC reporter working on the ground in the conflict managed to prove that also this story was a hoax.

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