Year's contrasts: 4G breakthrough and rollback, millionaires from Ukrposhta slums, and Ukrtelecom row
The outgoing 2018 is truly a year of contrasts in the telecommunications market. The long-awaited LTE (4G) format was introduced, while even the 2G connection was not solid at all times, and no promised abolition of “mobile slavery” happened; the team of business reformers who came to manage Ukrposhta increased the company’s losses and began closing company branches in rural areas; and the epic with the return of Ukrtelecom to state ownership went for the second round in Ukrainian courts.
Year's balance: Reconciliation with IMF, bills for Russia, and new investors
Ukraine secured a new cooperation program with the IMF, scored several loud victories in international courts against Russian aggressors, attracted new investors, and boasted a record harvest – these are the main economic results of the outgoing year.
Week's balance: New IMF requirements and long-awaited tranche, Fiscal Service unbundling, and "disgraceful" moratorium on farmland sale
Ukraine's main creditor, the IMF, set new demands on reforms and even allocated an incentive tranche in the amount of $1.4 billion; the authorities go for a large-scale reshuffle in the Fiscal Service structure; and MPs once again chose to prolong the moratorium on farmland sale to avoid speculation ahead of the presidential election.
IMF billions under Ukraine's Christmas tree
Despite the introduction of martial law in several regions of Ukraine and the incompletion of the previous cooperation program, the IMF approved a new one for Ukraine, this time worth $3.9 billion. Experts call the key lender's decision a rescue from default.
Week's balance: Failure to sell Centrenergo, Nasirov's reinstatement, and higher heating tariffs
The long-awaited privatization tender for the sale of Ukraine's strategic SOE Centrenergo is canceled because participants are not allowed to bid, the court reinstates ex-head of the fiscal service Roman Nasirov suspected of corruption, while NEURC predictably approves new heating tariffs, and the IMF is almost ready to provide Ukraine its first tranche under a new stand-by program – these are the main economic news of the outgoing week.
Opening imports: Who is hindering electricity price reduction
Ukraine has not yet removed the administrative barriers to electricity imports from the European Union, although Kyiv promised to do this several years ago. European officials set a deadline for fulfilling previous commitments for July 1, 2019. Otherwise, they vow sanctions.
Esprit de Corps: What allows Nasirov and other officials to be reinstated through courts
On Tuesday, December 11, the Kyiv District Administrative Court reinstated Roman Nasirov, chairman of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine, who had been dismissed by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of January 31. Unfortunately, such a return of odious officials to positions through the courts is quite a common thing for Ukraine.
Week's balance: Ukraine awaiting IMF tranche, Firtash's regional gas companies accused of "sabotage," and Ukrzaliznytsia seeing ticket chaos
Ukraine took another step toward receiving a bailout tranche from the IMF; Naftogaz called actions of Dmytro Firtash’s gas distribution firms "sabotage"; while Ukrzaliznytsia experienced a ticketing chaos – these are the main economic news of the outgoing week.
Nord Stream 2: Is Europe aware of the Russian noose?
Russia's aggression against Ukraine in the Black Sea has raised to another level in the international arena the issue of the construction of the Nord Stream-2, the Kremlin's noose for the European Union. European officials have already submitted to Parliament a resolution on halting support for the Russian project, but it is only scheduled to be heard in March. UNIAN figured out what Ukraine should expect from a Europe that is constantly "in doubt."
Week's balance: "Martial law" economy, swinging hryvnia, and EUR 500 mln aid from EU
Ukraine, for the first time in modern history, is learning how to live under martial law and it is not yet clear how this will affect the national economy, although the hryvnia responded immediately by going into a steep dive, only to regain positions shortly. The EU finally allocated the first EUR 500 million aid tranche, while IMF also sent positive signals by not turning away from Ukraine and being ready to consider the allocation of the next tranche. The country's main airport became closer as Ukrzaliznytsia launched an express railbus line, connecting it with the Kyiv center - these are the key economic news of the outgoing week.
Tomos of autocephaly: Should Ukraine expect provocations from Moscow Patriarchate and what should be done about it
The Moscow Patriarchate is gradually losing Ukraine. Among other things, this is evidenced by a rather inert reaction to statements of the opponents of the "new unified church" idea – namely the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the traditionally more pro-Russian regions - Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, and Odesa. At the same time, pro-Russian priests are taking a far more aggressive stance.
Week's balance: Rada passes 2019 Budget, discount air carriers announce expansion in Ukraine, while Poroshenko signs law on customs clearance of cars with EU plates
After a sleepless night, on Friday morning, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the 2019 State Budget, paving the way for the new IMF program; the management of two major European low-cost air carriers announced their active business development in our country, while President Petro Poroshenko ignored the requirements of protesting drivers, having signed laws on new rules for customs clearance of imported vehicles.
Georgian diplomat Valery Chechelashvili: Revolution of Dignity resulted from Russia beginning to categorically object Ukraine-EU rapprochement
Georgia's ex-Ambassador to Russia, former GUAM Secretary General Valery Chechelashvili spoke about how ten years ago the West had high hopes in relation to Russia, thus driving the world into a current dead end, about the philosophy of the Kremlin regime, and on why for Russia, the rapprochement of Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries with the EU (not with NATO) has become a problem.
Political analyst Yevgenia Goryunova: New trend in Crimea is "this is all because of your Euromaidan that we now have Russia here..."
Crimean political analyst Yevgenia Goryunova sat down with UNIAN to tell us about the mass resettlement of Russians to Crimea, social discrimination of Crimeans in favor of newcomers, and catastrophic militarization of people's consciousness. Also, she explained with examples that the love of the local residents across the annexed peninsula to Russia is now fading away.
Week's balance: Poroshenko "turns on" heating, U.S. vows energy support, while GDP growth slows down
President Petro Poroshenko had to personally intervene to ensure a belated start of the heating season in the town of Smila, which is evidence of acute problems in the country's energy sector; U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry during his Kyiv visit promised support in the energy field; while GDP growth rates declined – these are the key economic news of the outgoing week.
Week's balance: Benefits and fines for drivers of EU-tagged cars, new taxes, and blackout threat in Luhansk region
The Verkhovna Rada, under the pressure of protesting drivers of vehicles with EU registration plates cut the customs clearance fees for such cars but sharply increased fines for those who fail to legalize their vehicles in Ukraine on time. MPs also discussed tax innovations, while President Poroshenko announced that Ukraine would shortly receive the first tranche of the EU aid in the amount of EUR 500 million. Meanwhile, the start of the heating season brought the first "surprise" as coal reserves at Luhansk TPP, owned by DTEK, have exhausted.
Will masterminds behind Kateryna Handziuk's murder be found
On Sunday, November 4, Kherson city council official, activist and anti-corruption whistleblower Kateryna Handziuk, who had been doused with acid near her house four months ago, died. Despite all the assurances of high-ranking officials about their “personal control” of the case, law enforcers have not even transferred the case file to court. Should we hope for a fair investigation and voicing the names of not only the executioners of, but also the masterminds behind Keteryna's murder after her death?
Week's balance: Russian sanctions, progress in Doing Business, and gas price hike
Ukraine has risen five positions in the Doing Business ranking, Russia imposed sanctions on Ukrainian politicians and a number of companies, while Germany's Angela Merkel during her Kyiv visit promised more economic assistance and wider bilateral trade.
Week's balance: Heating season start, Putin's sanctions, and eurobonds worth $2 bln
Ukraine has attracted $2 billion, placing eurobonds with a 5- and 10-years' maturity period and a yield of 9% and 9.75%. The Russian leadership, besides shelling and shooting in Donbas, is now rattling other types of sabers – personal sanctions against Ukrainian politicians. Meanwhile, the decrease in temperature forced the authorities to greenlight the start of the heating season against the background of the gas price hike and new tariffs for heat and hot water.
Sanctions against Ukraine Putin’s losing bet
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree with a very colorful title “On the application of special economic measures in connection with the unfriendly actions of Ukraine in relation to citizens and legal entities of the Russian Federation.” UNIAN figured out who could be hit by sanctions and whether the restrictions would have an impact on the Ukrainian economy.