Ukrainian interest. Kremlin's traditional cynicism, Zakarpattia optimism, and migration threat for EU
The Kremlin's stance toward hunger strikes of Ukrainian political prisoners is especially cynical. Moscow and Washington are increasingly discussing the future summit between Putin and Trump. Negotiations of the quartet of Ukrainian and Hungarian ministers in a Zakarpattia resort allow some optimism not only toward Ukraine's participation in the future NATO summit, which is timed with the adoption of the National Security Bill, but also toward the prospects for normalizing bilateral relations. The migration crisis risks becoming a serious problem for the European Union.
Week's balance: New customs war, currency regulations, and new Supervisory Board in Ukrzaliznytsia
A new customs war: Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, anticipating a possible attack on himself, went all-in, deciding to withdraw the Ukrainian customs from under control of the president. The Verkhovna Rada adopted a historic decision - changed the obsolete currency decree by a law declaring the "all is allowed that is not prohibited by law" principle. In one of the most corrupt state companies, Ukrzaliznytsia, elected a supervisory board, which included acclaimed international experts. These are the main economic news of the outgoing week.
Ukrainian interest. Berlin talks, struggle for Sentsov, and Summit in Singapore
The Normandy Four foreign ministers made an attempt to resume discussion of the situation in Donbas. Petro Poroshenko and Andriy Parubiy urged Ukraine's Western partners to refuse from participation in the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 energy project, while the president also took part in the launch of the TANAP line. The European Parliament stood up for Oleh Sentsov and other political prisoners in Russia, followed by the Polish Sejm. The Trump-Kim Summit was a sweet deal for both leaders, while Paul Manafort was finally thrown behind bars in the U.S.
Week's balance: War against business harassers, NBU names key financial risks, and Swedish court suspends Gazprom debt collection
Last week, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman declared war on law enforcers who continue to exert unlawful pressure on businesses; the National Bank released its new financial stability report, pointing out major risks; and the Swedish Court of Appeal suspended execution of the Stockholm arbitration award obliging Russian Gazprom to pay $2.6 billion in favor of Naftogaz.
Crimea. Territory of torture
Russia's crimes against Crimea and its residents did not end with the actual occupation. And although Putin's regime still does not allow international observers to Crimea, some information is coming through. Since the beginning of the annexation, human rights monitors have recorded about two hundred cases of inhuman treatment of people, a quarter of which are torture cases. Some victims manage to escape from the FSB grip, and they are ready to tell the whole world about their experience.
"Mr. X": New law for investors
The Verkhovna Rada adopted a law simplifying the entry to the Ukrainian market of foreign investors. This should ensure the introduction of foreign financial intermediaries, nominal holders – a sort of Mr X. Meanwhile, experts are divided on the prospects for the new legislation. UNIAN tries to clear up the situation.
Ukrainian interest. Putin building up tension, Trump's impromptu, and inter-parliamentary trio
The Russian president is going on a counter-offensive in the international arena, trying to bring down the negative resonance surrounding the hunger strike of Oleh Sentsov and other Ukrainian political prisoners. Russia was on top agenda of the G7 summit. A new Italian government with Euroskeptic sentiments has begun its work. Sweden gave permission to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in its territorial waters. In Kyiv, the creation of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine was announced.
Week's balance: Anti-corruption court for IMF, finance minister sacked, and new energy regulator's stance on "Rotterdam +" formula
Verkhovna Rada's constitutional majority adopted the Anti-Corruption Court it earlier resented, thus, fortunately, retaining cooperation with the IMF, but then immediately sacked Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk, who had dared accuse of corruption the entourage of President Poroshenko. The National Energy and Utilities Regulation Commission received a new leader: its notorious ex-chief was not given even an advisor post. These are the main economic of the outgoing week.
NABU Auditor Volodymyr Vasylenko: Very often, police and courts act not as law enforcers but as law violators... NABU is called to defend law; therefore, its activities must remain within the legal framework
Volodymyr Vasylenko, a NABU Auditor appointed today by the Verkhovna Rada, an expert in international law, honorary lawyer of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, told UNIAN about the purpose of the audit of anti-graft bodies and his mission as an auditor.
Worse than serial criminals: Why Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia receive huge terms
Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia face with "public flogging," being handed down verdicts on far-fetched charges way harsher than those to outright criminals or even serial killers. UNIAN tried to find out why Ukrainians in Russia face huge prison terms, and who else can be a "person of interest" to Russian security services and find themselves in a risk zone.
Week's balance: Attack on Gazprom, Vovk's lay-off, and premier's war with finance minister
Naftogaz began the process of forcing a US$2.6 bln debt from Gazprom in Europe, targeting Putin's favorite Nord Stream 2; squabbles between Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk hit an international level, while President Petro Poroshenko finally approved five new members of the energy regulator and dismissed its scandalous head, Dmytro Vovk – these are the main economic news of the outgoing week.
Ukrainian interest. Babchenko test, maneuvers around Nord Stream 2, and demonstrative visit
The Babchenko case attracted the attention of various world players to Ukraine. Sergei Lavrov in Minsk recalled the "Steinmeier formula," complete with various "horror stories" about Ukraine. Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Haiko Maas visited Kyiv. Ukraine-Poland partnership is reflected in their cooperation within the UN Security Council. Andriy Parubiy paid a visit to Israel.
Naftogaz attacks Gazprom's assets
Naftogaz launched a forced recovery of Gazprom's debt in the jurisdiction of European countries within the framework of the award of the Stockholm Arbitration. The first blow was struck on the assets of the Russian gas monopoly in the Nord Stream 2 project. Experts believe that this will at least delay construction of the gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine, while Gazprom will have to pay off debts anyway.
"Urgent" anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine
The two-year saga around the creation of the High Anti-Corruption Court has reached the home stretch as last week the relevant bill was finally brought to the Verkhovna Rada's session hall for its final consideration. Although the deputies failed to pass the legislation from first attempt, they have gone through almost a half of some 2,000 amendments.
Week's balance: New tunnel to Europe, anti-corruption court's final stretch, and Russia sanctions
Ukraine has opened the Beskidy Tunnel passing through the Carpathian ridge and connecting the country with European Union with a new railway line, the National Bank warned about the need to fulfill IMF conditions as soon as possible, while the presidential administration promulgated the sanctions list against Russia – these are the key economic developments in the outgoing week.
Bosch's Dr. Stefan Hartung: I might still want to be allowed to have my secrets. In the era of the Internet of Things, discussion on personal data issues is needed – individuals are at stake
Humankind is entering a new era of the Internet of Things. In the coming years, everyday necessities like cars and household appliances will become interconnected in a single network to ensure our comfort. Technology already allows accomplishing this. But the risks to an individual that innovation might bring along lead to an active discussion about the boundaries of people's personal space, where technology might penetrate.
Ukrainian interest. Russia's aggression in Crimea, Black mark for Moscow, and President's bravery
Russia's moves in Crimea and the Sea of Azov are becoming increasingly provocative. The JIT probe into an MH17 crash gave Australia and the Netherlands an impetus to form their position. PM Groysman held talks in Brussels. Emmanuel Macron did not live up to general hopes during a St. Petersburg visit. In Italy, a Eurosceptic government is being formed. Hungary once again tried to use NATO to exert more pressure on Ukraine. Johannes Hahn sees no reason for abolishing the visa-free regime for Ukraine. Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid visited Donbas.
Week's balance: EU decides to lend EUR 1 bln, Rada outlaws palm oil, Kyiv ups public transport fares
The EU plans to lend EUR 1 billion to Ukraine, demanding more efforts to fight corruption, on the eve of summer vacations the Verkhovna Rada intends to outlaw the use of palm oil in food production, and the Kyiv authorities have decided to sharply raise the fare in public transport to prevent collapse – these are the major economic developments of the past week.
Ukrainian interest. Putin's tricks, tireless Volker and cold shower from Mingarelli
The Russian president demonstrated an arsenal of various moves to maintain the image of the "great and terrible." Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin quoted Ukrainian film maker Oleh Sentsov, who went on hunger strike in a Russian prison. U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker was persistently promoting a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas. On the eve of Europe Day in Ukraine, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Hugues Mingarelli disclosed several unpleasant facts for Ukraine.
Ukrainian interest. Prospects in Germany's Aachen, Putin's oath and Trump vs. Obama policy
A meeting took place in a hybrid Normandy format in Aachen, Germany, – without the participation of Vladimir Putin. Kurt Volker announced a visit to Ukraine, having made a number of statements. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued the award, obliging Russia to pay compensation to Ukrainian companies for the loss of property in Crimea. Putin took the oath of office for his fourth term as Russian president. Nikol Pashinyan became Prime Minister of Armenia. Donald Trump continued wiping out the gains of the Barack Obama Administration's foreign policy.