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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.
    https://www.rferl.org/a/ex-yanukovyc.../29785015.html

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    • 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.https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-pres.../29779430.html
      With reporting by dpa, AFP, and AP

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      • 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.

        https://gdb.rferl.org/172A99A1-67A3-...w1023_r0_s.jpg
        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.

        https://gdb.rferl.org/88A0C7DD-3043-...w1597_r0_s.jpg
        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.

        https://gdb.rferl.org/A2C97F52-DD7C-...w1023_r0_s.jpg
        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."https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainians-rue-lack-of-justice-for-euromaidan-killings/29780996.html

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        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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

          https://gdb.rferl.org/4CB4B56B-368B-...97_n_r1_st.jpg

          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.

          https://www.facebook.com/mvs.gov.ua/...3221146997124/

          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.
          https://www.rferl.org/a/banderite-re.../29764110.html

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          • 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: www.unainc.org.

            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 (svoboda-news.com and ukrweekly.com), on the UNA website (unainc.org), as well as by following Ukrainian Na
            tional Association on Facebook.

            Irene Jarosewich is an advisor on the UNA General Assembly.
            http://www.ukrweekly.com/uwwp/2019-t...l-association/



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            • Fake: EU and US Opened a Criminal Case Against Poroshenko
              STOPFAKE.ORG March 25, 2019 - 18:11

              A number of Russian and pro-Kremlin media distributed information about criminal cases allegedly opened against Ukraines president Petro Poroshenko in the European Union and the United States. The websites Ukraina.ru, Narodnyi Korrespondent, Gazeta.RU , and other media outlets quote Ukraines presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko who made the claim during a press conference in Lutsk on March 23.
              https://www.stopfake.org/en/fake-eu-...st-poroshenko/


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              • Kremlin readying a return to totalitarianism, Ponomaryev and Ikhlov say
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/03/23 - 11:56

                All too often, Lev Ponomaryev and Yevgeny Ikhlov warn in a new commentary, observers focus on one or another Moscow action in isolation and do not connect the dots; but if one does, they say, it becomes obvious that the Kremlin is preparing on a rushed basis the foundations for a return to totalitarianism.

                Wherever one looks, the human rights activist and commentator say, the Putin regime is engaged in repression, persecution, faked judicial procedures and new laws that can be used much as Stalin did; and one must conclude that they are part of a broader plan rather than mere accidents.

                Political repressions in contemporary Russia have occurred earlier, but they bore a targeted character, the two say.

                Now, a new stage has arrived: legal norms, judicial and police practice are again being reoriented toward a policy of mass political persecutions with laws like those against fake news and any criticism of the authority.

                In essence, Ponomaryev and Ikhlov say, the new laws are a return to the provisions of the infamous paragraph 191.1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code about slander on the Soviet state and social system. Moreover, the new law on criminal communities can be used not just against professional criminals but against business leaders as well.

                But as bad as the texts of these laws are, they continue, the fact that the authorities routinely ignore the laws in order to punish anyone they want, either to take revenge or to spread terror in the population. And everywhere one looks, this pattern is spreading, affecting ever more activities and ever more groups and individuals.

                And as popular anger increases, the regime is putting in place all the mechanisms it needs to fabricate thousands of criminal cases.
                They catalogue case after case of persecution and conclude that all this shows that the mechanism of mass political terror and repressive totalitarian practices has been created and is ready to be used.

                Russia may not yet be at another 1937, although they suggest there are many cases with strong parallels to that horrible year; but its government now has all the tools to do the same things in the near future and in the current environment, the existence of such tools and their increasing use acts to intimidate Russians in the latest hybrid fashion.

                In a separate article appended to this one, Ponomaryev traces the ways in which a trial in St. Petersburg that has just begun represents the first trial of the Putin era that fully resembles those of 1937, a confirmation of the argument that he and Ikhlov advance.

                They are not alone in seeing a sea change in Russian realities in the direction of Stalinism at a time when many commentators are suggesting that the Putin regime is in trouble or may even collapse. Irina Pavlova, a US-based Russian historian, is one of them.

                She argues that what is occurring now is the end of the Putin NEP. Just as in the NEP of the 1920s, the present-day New Economic Policy also has not led to a civilizational change of the Western type. And just as in the 1920s, the regime has used NEP for its purposes not only economically but politically.

                Behind its faade, Pavlova says, all these years has occurred the foundation of a new edition of Stalinism because Russias current leaders have no other idea for the future except one taken from the past and modernized slightly.

                Russia, as so often in the past, the historian observes, is moving cyclically rather than escaping from its past. The problem is that neither Russia nor the West want to soberly look at the past and draw lessons from it for their future survival. Ponomaryev and Ikhlovs article, as well as Pavlovas, may help to change that.http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...nd-ikhlov-say/


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                • Russian secret police declassify century-old documents but then block access to
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/03/23 - 13:10

                  Russian secret police declassify century-old documents but then block access to them
                  Admiral Alexander Kolchak, the head of the anti-Bolshevik White forces in 1918-1920 during the Russian Civil War (1917-1922). It is believed to be his last photo taken before his execution by the Bolsheviks in February 1920. (Wikimedia Commons)

                  Admiral Alexander Kolchak, the head of the anti-Bolshevik White forces in 1918-1920 during the Russian Civil War (1917-1922). It is believed to be his last photo taken before his execution by the Bolsheviks in February 1920. (Wikimedia Commons)

                  In a move that perfectly embodies the hybrid way the Putin regime does things, the FSB has announced that it is declassifying documents concerning the trial and execution of Admiral Kolchak, the anti-Bolshevik leader in Siberia in 1919-1920, but will not allow anyone in the public to have access to them.

                  The declassification of these documents will no doubt be invoked by Putins supporters in Russia and abroad as evidence of a new openness by the Russian security services, but the simultaneous decision to block access to these unclassified documents ill ensure that in fact nothing has really changed, although the latter point is not one Moscow will be making.

                  Kommersant reported this development today, and opposition sites picked up on it, suggesting that it is the latest example of how the Putin regime can be counted on to act (e.g., echo.msk.ru and graniru.org).

                  But the upshot of the FSBs action may be exactly the reverse of what it hopes for: more interest in Kolchak and his rehabilitation (rusk.ru and beloedelo.com) and more questions among Russians about how long they will have to wait to learn the truth about their own past.

                  As one Russian specialist on Soviet history puts it, How long must we wait until we can be acquainted with [documents concerning Kolchak and other victims of Soviet power]? Another hundred years? Or even 300? Such questions by their very nature are subversive of the values Putin wants to promote.

                  And that makes the FSBs actions truly counterproductive. If the organs and the Kremlin behind them didnt want to release anything, they should have left things as they were, with the documents beyond reach because of classification. But in the pursuit of positive reviews from some, they have generated more negative ones by far more people.

                  http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...ccess-to-them/




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                  • ECHR decision on ethnopolitical genocide in Lithuania deals blow to Soviet crimes
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS European Pravda 2019/03/24 - 10:38

                    Is the Soviet Union guilty of genocide? For Ukrainian historians and politicians, the answer is unequivocal, but to date, it has been impossible to prove this guilt in a legal manner. Moreover, the UN convention, which introduced the term genocide in international law, was written with the participation of Soviet diplomats who worked very effectively to ensure that Soviet operations did not fall under the definition of this crime.

                    Today, the situation may have changed

                    The recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Drelingas v. Lithuania is, in fact, revolutionary because it basically expands the scope for the term genocide.

                    Is punishment inevitable?

                    Commenting on the trial of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann (one of the organizers of the Holocaust, tried and executed in Israel in 1962), the famous philosopher Karl Jaspers wrote:

                    Something other than law is at issue here and to address it in exclusively legal terms is a mistake.

                    Similar thoughts are regularly heard when it comes to taking court decisions as a means of establishing historical truth or, in other words, trying to write a history textbook in the courtroom.

                    However, better options have not been invented. Hence, criminal liability for such crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and, with certain reservations, crimes of aggression, is well-rooted on both national and internationally levels.

                    There is no statute of limitations for criminal liability, but the International Criminal Court (ICC), created in compliance with the Rome Statute of 1998, is intended to complement existing national judicial systems when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer situations to the Court. In practice, a large number of serious crimes against international law committed after the creation of the ICC (in particular, in Ukraine after 2014) remain unpunished, and it is difficult for specialists to find persons that are confident in the victory of international justice in the short run.

                    One way or another, the international community now has a tool for reviewing new crimes against humanity.

                    However, many nations remain deeply traumatized by crimes of the past, and without addressing them, some countries simply cannot move forward.

                    This is one of the most difficult tasks facing countries that were part of the former Soviet Union.

                    There are three reasons. First, the USSR is accountable for an incredible number of the most brutal and massive crimes against its own citizens and entire nations that were part of it.

                    Secondly, it is complicated to establish such historical data due to the efforts of Soviet authorities to hide the truth (aggressive imposition of myths and lies, destruction of documents and witnesses, etc.), and also due to the current position adopted by the Russian Federation, which sees itself as a continuation of glorious Soviet history and spares no efforts to whitewash its image.

                    Thirdly, modern wording describing the most serious crimes, such as genocide, was created after the Second World War, with the direct involvement of the USSR and the Western powers, who carefully worded the corresponding definitions to suit Nazi crimes, but made it more difficult to apply to their own crimes. The first draft of the Convention included political killings, but the USSR along with some other nations would not accept that actions against groups identified as holding similar political opinions or social status would constitute genocide, so these stipulations were subsequently removed in a political and diplomatic compromise.


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                    • genocide in Lithuania deals blow to Soviet crimes Pt 2

                      Is it genocide?

                      Thus, the 1948 Genocide Convention was passed to outlaw actions similar to the Holocaust by Nazi Germany, but it is more problematic to apply it to massive Soviet repressions (or to crimes perpetrated by British colonialists against the Hindus in India or by American settlers against Native Americans).

                      The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on December 9, 1948, defines genocide as an action committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Most importantly, this definition of the crime of genocide excludes acts of mass extermination due to peoples political convictions, social status, property status, etc.

                      At this moment, I cannot but mention that well-known thesis of Russian propaganda that the Holodomor, even if it was specially organized, was NOT directed against Ukrainians (a national/ethnic group), but only against peasants (a social group) and therefore, it should not be considered a genocide.

                      But, lets return to the Lithuanian case that was considered by the ECHR.

                      After the return of Lithuania under the control of the Soviet Union in 1944, a partisan liberation war spread throughout the country. According to data provided by the Lithuanian government to the ECHR, until 1953 about 500,000 Lithuanians suffered from Soviet repression (total population of Lithuania as of 1939 2,925,271 persons).

                      The brutality and violence used by the Soviet authorities to destroy members of the partisan movement is quite impressive. The Soviet authorities wiped out thousands of Lithuanian partisans and sympathizers in 1940-1941 and in 1944-1953 (about 20,000 people were killed); their supporters and family members were imprisoned or deported to Siberia; mass torture, intimidation and collective punishment were used, including the burning of entire villages.

                      When Lithuania declared independence, the actions and operations attributed to the Soviet Union were qualified as genocide.

                      In 1992, Lithuania passed a special Act providing for the responsibility for the genocide of the Lithuanian people. Section 1 of the Act defined genocide, broadly following the definition of the Genocide Convention. Section 2 added that killing and torturing the people of Lithuania, deportation of its population carried out during the years of Nazi and Soviet occupation and annexation of Lithuania corresponds to the definition of the crime of genocide as it is described by international law. The crime of genocide was incorporated into the Criminal Code in 1998. The definition of the offence referred to actions committed with intent to physically destroy, in whole or in part, residents belonging to a national, ethnic, racial, religious, social or political group.

                      At the same time, the crime of genocide, along with other crimes against international law, was included in the list of exceptions to the law prohibiting retroactive application of criminal law. This made it possible to raise the issue of the criminal liability of several veterans of the Ministry of State Security who participated in operations to exterminate Lithuanian partisans and remained in Lithuania after independence.

                      These cases were investigated by Lithuanian courts, which proceeded to find the veterans of Soviet security agencies guilty of the crime of genocide.

                      Unpunished crimes

                      Of course, the individuals convicted of crimes committed during the Soviet era did not recognize their guilt and used all possible means to appeal the sentences.

                      The first such case submitted to the ECHR Vasiliauskas v. Lithuania was considered by the Grand Chamber of Justice on October 20, 2015.

                      After examining the arguments of the applicant and the Government of Lithuania, as well as the Russian Federation, which took advantage of the right to support the applicant, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR, by a majority of votes (9 against 8), found that Lithuania had violated Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that the criminality of an act and punishability of a person shall be determined by a criminal law in force at the time of the commission of that act. (nullum crimen sine lege).

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                      • genocide in Lithuania deals blow to Soviet crimes Pt 3

                        In other words, the state is entitled to codify a wider interpretation of the crime of genocide than that stipulated in international law at the time of its commission, but such a crime may not be punished retroactively.

                        Two weeks after this decision, Vytautas Vasiliauskas died. At the request of his family, the Supreme Court of Lithuania reopened the proceedings, abolished previous court decisions and decided that the charges against Vasiliauskas should be reformulated. But, seeing that the applicant had died, the case was closed. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe then ruled that Lithuania had fully complied with the ECHR judgment in the Vasiliauskas case.

                        Meanwhile, Lithuania continued to prosecute former Soviet security officers for the crime of genocide. On April 12, 2016, the Lithuanian Supreme Court upheld the sentence of genocide for another former KGB officer Stanislovas Drelingas, who was prosecuted for his participation in a KGB operation that resulted in the capture of Adolfas Ramanauskas, code name Vanagas, one of the last leaders of the Lithuanian partisan resistance to Soviet rule.

                        On April 12, the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Lithuania unanimously upheld the previous judgment, that Drelingas was guilty as a participant in the genocide directed at Lithuanian partisans, a separate political group, who were held to have been a substantial part of Lithuanian nation or ethnic Lithuanians, thus a group protected by the Genocide Convention of 1948.

                        Despite the comparatively short term of punishment (taking into account his poor health and secondary role in the capture of Adolfas Ramanauskas, Drelingas was sentenced to only five months in prison), Drelingas also submitted his case to the ECHR.

                        Historical decision

                        The ECHRs final decision in Drelingas v. Lithuania was promulgated on March 12, 2019.

                        This time, the relevant Chamber of the Court (the Fourth Section under the chairmanship of Ukrainian judge Hanna Yudkivska) did not refuse to consider the case in favour of the Grand Chamber, but issued a significant decision.

                        With five votes against two, the Chambers decided that Drelingass condemnation did not violate Article 7 of the Genocide Convention, i.e. the article that had allowed the previous applicant Vytautas Vasiliauskas to win his case.

                        The Court concluded that:

                        Lithuanias Supreme Court had now resolved previously existing legal discrepancies in domestic practice on such genocide trials, discrepancies which had led to the Court finding a violation in the similar case of Vasiliauskas v. Lithuania in 2015.

                        In particular, the Supreme Court had explained why the partisans who had resisted Soviet rule could be considered as an important part of the nation and thus be covered by international law, Article II of the Genocide Convention, at the time of the events.

                        The applicant had to have been aware in the 1950s that he could be prosecuted for genocide and his conviction had been foreseeable. There had therefore been no violation of the Convention.

                        Judges Motoc and Ranzoni expressed dissenting opinions.

                        Romanian judge Iulia Antonoelli Motoc was particularly critical of the decision:

                        The implications of this ECHR judgment, which is unprecedented in international practice, are fundamental. For the first time, an international judicial institution has recognized ethnic and political genocide. Today, many countries are discussing such genocides.

                        Once the ECHR recognizes genocide for ethnic and political reasons, other states will be tempted to follow Lithuanias example.

                        By adopting such a decision, the Court is expanding the scope of genocide far beyond the frame defined in todays international criminal law.

                        According to judge Motoc, the case must now be brought before the Grand Chamber. It appears that this scenario is quite plausible as the applicant plans to appeal against the Courts decision. However, even if the Great Chamber of the ECHR considers this case, the results are quite difficult to predict.

                        If there are no changes to this important decision, the path to a freer retrospective interpretation of the crime of genocide will be open.

                        In conclusion, the ECHR has closes the impunity gap that allowed defenders of totalitarian regimes to justify crimes by hiding behind purely formal arguments.

                        But, we must admit that practical consequences from the point of view of criminal law, as in the case of Soviet crimes during Stalins rule, will be rather limited.

                        In fact, in order to establish criminal liability, the subject must be alive; moreover, there have always been many other legal obstacles preventing good historical and political analyses and evaluations of past events as genocide.

                        However, this historic decision may open the door to the investigation and condemnation of later crimes perpetrated by the Soviet authorities, even if they were not as massive.

                        In any case, there is one thing that should be avoided at all costs: banalization of the crime of genocide.

                        Mykola Hnatovsky, First Vice-President of the Ukrainian Association of International Law, Professor at the Department of International Law of the Institute of International Affairs of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...t-of-genocide/

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                        • Could Ukraine have fought off Crimean occupation? A crucial document you should know
                          EUROMAIDAN PRESS RFE/RL 2019/03/24 - 01:14

                          Five years ago this week, Russia was finishing its illegal annexation of Crimea, trying to legitimize it by a so-called referendum. The annexation was going on for a whole month from 20 February 2014, until Russia established full control over the peninsula. However, during this whole month, the 15,000 Ukrainian troops located in Crimea didnt shoot to defend themselves and the peninsula from the Russian invasion. A transcript of the National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) meeting held on 28 February 2014, which we publish below, reveals the real state of Ukraine at the end of February 2014 and allows judging whether Ukraines decision to not protect Crimea by force was right. How many Ukrainian soldiers were actually prepared to resist the Russian green men in the Crimea and who betrayed Ukraine? What did the western partners advise Ukrainian authorities to do? What did the Ukrainian politicians propose and decide and could they have stopped the Russian invasion of Crimea?

                          Debates still erupt in Ukraine on whether the post-Euromaidan government made the right decision to restrain from military conflict in Crimea: as we all know, the military conflict in Ukraine started in Donbas, not from the Russian occupation of Crimea. But at that time, Ukraine, still reeling from the Euromaidan revolution and flight of ex-President Yanukovych, needed at least some time to improve the extremely low combat capability of its armed forces and redeploy troops in order to secure all 1974 kilometers of the border with Russia in the East.

                          At the onset of Russian aggression on 21 February 2014, 20,000 Russian soldiers were already in Crimea and 38,000 more stood along the Ukrainian border in the East. Meanwhile, only 5,000 Ukrainian troops were combat ready. The Ukrainian government had several weeks to mobilize and prepare the rest of its forces while Russia was preparing to hold its sham referendum. Critics say it could have acted.

                          No matter who you will agree with in the published RNBO discussion below, special attention should be paid to the words of Yuliya Tymoshenko at the end of the RNBO meeting. Currently, she is among the leaders in presidential elections and strives to lead the country and its Armed Forces, but in 2014 she recommended Ukraine be like a dove of peace and argued against the redeployment of Ukrainian armed forces from the West to the East when Russian aggression was already at the gate.

                          This RNBO meeting took place directly in the walls of Parliament, and most of its participants just began to fulfill their duties.

                          Participants:

                          Oleksandr Turchynov, Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (from 22.02.2014) and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine due to the escape of Viktor Yanukovych, former President of Ukraine

                          Arseniy Yatseniuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine (from 27.02.2014)

                          Vitaliy Yarema, First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine (from 27.02.2014)

                          Ihor Teniukh, Acting Minister of Defense (from 27.02.2014)

                          Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine (from 24.02.2014)

                          Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (from 27.02.2014)

                          Viktor Hvozd, Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (from 27.02.2014)

                          Andriy Deshchytsia, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (from 27.02.2014)

                          Oleh Mechnytskyi, Acting Prosecutor General of Ukraine

                          Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (from 27.02.2014)

                          Stepan Kubiv, Head of the National Bank of Ukraine (from 24.02.2014)

                          Invited to the meeting:

                          Yuliya Tymoshenko, the leader of the largest fraction of the parliamentary coalition at that time

                          Andriy Senchenko, Representative in the Parliament, Former Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Reforms of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

                          Complete read: http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...u-should-know/


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                          • Ukraine creates free online courses of Ukrainian language for foreigners
                            EUROMAIDAN PRESS Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko 2019/03/25 - 20:22

                            https://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.co...e-7.png?w=1433

                            Learning Ukrainian online has become easier, now that the government is offering a free online course https://speakukraine.net/ SpeakUkrainian. The course is an initiative arising from the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy.

                            The front page provides this introduction: This platform (SpeakUkrainian) is intended for everyone who needs to improve the Ukrainian language both Ukrainian citizens and foreigners, therefore the English language is auxiliary.

                            Ministry Secretary Artem Bidenko, program initiator, explains that one of the main goals of the project is to change the attitude of Ukrainians themselves to the languageto popularize Ukrainian and make it appealing to people of all ages. This is not a dull and dry learning toolit is completely interactive and meant to be both easy and enjoyable.

                            SpeakUkrainian is formulated for online learning by the Association of Innovation and Digital Education. The course is hosted on Lingva.skillsan online training platform for the Ukrainian language.

                            Users will need to subscribe to the program online, and instructions are clearly outlined on the Lingva.skills website. A major plus is that the program does not allow external notifications, and only course material is presented to the userno annoying pop-ups.

                            CEO Maria Boguslav, Association of Innovation and Digital Education, says developers hope users will be especially motivated by the elements of gameplay in the program. Users will be able to personalize the content, to make it even more fun.

                            The course is based on the authors, Vitaliy Zubkov, innovative technique. Zubkov is a well-known psycholinguist and the creator of the education project Lingva.Skills. He himself has used the program to learn five foreign languages.

                            Speak Ukrainian uses an integrated method of language education. According to Zubkov, the approach is intuitive. He notes that everyone has a natural ability to guess words and, perhaps more importantly, to construe the meaning of a message when experienced within its own context. The course has been designed with four successive levels, A1-A2 and B1-B2, and has been proved effective as an introduction to common, everyday language skills.

                            However, the course still has room for improvement. Euromaidan Press asked an English native speaker who managed to learn Ukrainian perfectly well to review it. Jessica Pacheco-Semenyuk is an American. She learned Ukrainian to the extent that even allowed her to complete a Masters program in Lviv.

                            I love how interactive it is. But because its so interactive and there are a lot of moving pieces, I would have a little dotted route to help the end user navigate what comes first then next on the page.

                            The front page has both English and Ukrainian versions. However, the exercises are all in Ukrainian only. Jessicas first impression was related actually to English.

                            The English is not the best and its very obvious to me that a non-native English speaker wrote it.

                            She went on pointing at other difficulties users of the course might meet.

                            When I clicked the start learning button, it immediately navigated me within the site to a new page. You might want that to pop out as an entirely new web page rather so as not to encourage end users to bounce at this point. Lots of folks wont click back and will just click out. Make it easier for them, explained Ukrainian-speaking American Jessica Pacheco-Semenyuk.

                            Diplomats, media, and representatives of the international community have been among the first to use the course. Originally launched on 1 March, within a week 1,000 users had been registered and close to 5,000 exercises had been completed.

                            The Ukrainian language is interesting for many foreigners; including students in Ukrainian universities, foreign diplomats and international tourists, says Artem Bidenko.

                            According to Bidenko, the program is definitely worth a tryits early success has made that obvious. You can find (SpeakUkrainian) at the Lingva.skills website.http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...or-foreigners/

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                            • Two Ukrainian TV channels push Russian propaganda amid presidential election: report
                              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Yuri Zoria 2019/03/24 - 19:42

                              The report of Ukrainian media watchdog StopFake Fake Narratives in Times of Presidential Elections: How Hybrid War Reshapes The Agenda of Ukrainian TV by Anastasiya Hrynko with contributions from Artem Laptiev focuses the fake narratives spread by Ukrainian opposition TV channels during the 2019 presidential election campaign. The study is based on one-month long monitoring of talk shows on two channels, NewsOne and 112.

                              The authors analyzed the themes of the shows aired on both channels and found that they both spread typical narratives of Russian propaganda.
                              =========================
                              StopFakes newest research analyzes the content of talk shows on two Ukrainian opposition TV channels, NewsOne and 112. And the researchers have found that the oppositional TV channels tend to give airtime to promoting Ukraine-related fake narratives that are mostly centered on Ukrainian domestic agenda issues.

                              The two channels were picked for the analysis because both 112 and NewsOne were previously criticized by the independent media watchdog Detector Media and the National Council of TV and radio broadcasting for their utilization of hate speech, disseminating of fakes, and setting agenda that is too close to Russian propaganda. Importantly, the political talk shows of the oppositional TV channels faced the strongest criticism.

                              The popular Russian propaganda narrative of Ukraine as a failed state dominated in December 2018, when the researchers monitored NewsOne and 112. At the time of the presidential campaign, the two media tended to connect the failed-state narrative to the failed government idea backed by failed reforms and ineffective government leading Ukraine to total collapse statements

                              https://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.co...0.04.png?w=582
                              Top-3 Fake Narratives on 112 and NewsOne in December 2018.

                              The TV channels closely linked the failed-state leitmotif often combining it with two more narratives, poor and starving Ukraine and Ukraine totally dependent on Russia.

                              In many cases, these narratives appealed to emotions and fake claims intending to depict Ukraine as a totally ruined country sinking into poverty (again, as a result of the ineffective government) claiming that to survive Ukraine must negotiate with Russia, the study says.

                              Among the statements intended to promote the fake narratives of this kind were the following:

                              Ukrainian industry dies without Russia
                              nobody else will purchase Ukrainian products
                              if there will be no Russians in Ukraine, Ukrainians will have no work
                              Ukraine and Russia are friends, they can not be separated since they share a big border
                              many Ukrainians support Russia.

                              Another group of fakes spread by NewsOne and 112, according to StopFakes research, were narratives related to Russia and Western stakeholders. Both TV channels contributed to the legitimization of the annexation of Crimea and described Russia as not a part of the occupation/war.

                              Meanwhile, mentioning the Western stakeholders, both channels promoted the fake narratives of the decline of Western support for Ukraine and manipulated data on international organizations.

                              https://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.co...0.22.png?w=574

                              Other Fake Narratives. NewsOne and 112. December 2018. One of the statements denying the Russian occupation was Poroshenko started the war on Donbas and this led Ukraine to poverty, the decline of Western support was often presented with the slant the West is tired of Ukraine.

                              Opposition MPs and guests of the shows who were introduced as experts were most active in voicing propaganda narratives.

                              The report reads, In some cases, the narratives have also been repeated by other invited politicians and in a few cases, they were embedded within the comments of the talk show hosts or as a part of data presented as survey findings.

                              https://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.co...0.39.png?w=564

                              At the same time, the Ukrainian media didnt widely use other topics popular in Russian propaganda such as the ones related to Russias invasion and war, to the Ukrainian Army and volunteer battalions, to the religion in general and the Tomos in particular. However, these narratives were promoted at least once on the channels:

                              Ukraine is a fascist state (NewsOne)
                              Ukraine does not care about internally displaced people from Donbas (NewsOne)
                              Partition of Ukraines territory (NewsOne)
                              Ukraine is a puppet of the West/US (NewsOne)
                              Sanctions against Russia do not work (NewsOne).
                              Manipulations related to relations between Ukraine and EU (112)
                              Old and weak Europe intends to take the territory of Ukraine (112).
                              The united Ukrainian church has been created as a result of aggressive actions and pressure from the side of Ukrainian government (112).

                              As we can see, NewsOne and 112 channels prefer Russian propaganda narratives that are mainly directed against the Ukrainian government and its policies.

                              It is noteworthy that the idea of impoverished Ukraine which should negotiate with Russia to survive is widely used by many presidential candidates as a cornerstone of their campaigns: all populists refer to poverty and promise to raise salaries and pensions, as well as they often promise to halve gas prices. As well as they insist on negotiations in various forms, such as changing negotiation formats (Tymoshenko), negotiating with Putin face-to-face and to agree somewhere at a middle point (Zelenskyi), direct talks to not only Russia but also to the representatives of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk peoples republics (Boiko).

                              Meanwhile, more than enough negotiation platforms have already been used for negotiations the Normandy Format, Minsk Group, meetings of special representatives of Russia and the US the only problem is Russias unwillingness to obey the paragraphs of the Minsk agreements and de-occupy the Ukrainian territories.
                              http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...ection-report/

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                              • Russian interference in Ukrainian elections: separating the wheat from the chaff
                                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Bohdan Ben 2019/03/29 - 19:29

                                Its still unclear who will make it to the second round on 31 March and who has the best chances of winning Ukraines presidential election. Comic actor Zelenskyi is the most popular candidate, while Tymoshenko and Poroshenko have equal chances of making it to the second round. Yet, since early January debates have raged about possible Russian interference into Ukrainian elections, as well as about candidates whom Russia would or wouldnt support. Now, a few days are left until election day, 31 March, and its time to sum up whether there have been any cases of real Russian interference, or if these were only rumors. The answer is yes, but usually, Russia interfered indirectly, relying on the real support of pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine.
                                COMPLETE READ:
                                http://euromaidanpress.com/2019/03/2...ian-elections/

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