In the passing year Ukraine was shaken by loud political and military events: martial law was introduced in the country, new explosions occurred in military warehouses, the war in Donbas, which lasts for the fifth year, brought irreparable losses. At the same time, our country celebrated the 27th anniversary of its Independence, the finals of the Champions League were held in Kyiv, and the parliament, despite a number of scandals, was able to pass many important laws for Ukraine and Ukrainians. Let’s recall the most important news in our traditional review.
The dramatic events in the Kerch Strait region near the bridge built by Russia, which many people call the “Azov crisis”, provoked great changes in the life of the country. Namely, the introduction of martial law.
On the morning of November 25, Ukrainian small armored artillery boats "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol", as well as the “Yany Kapu” tugboat carried out a planned transfer from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol. Near the Kerch Strait, they were intercepted by four border ships of the Russian Federation, although, according to the Ukrainian Navy, the Russian side was informed about the transfer of the ship group in advance. The Russian border ship "Don" went to a ram of the Ukrainian tug "Yany Kapu", as a result of which the latter was damaged. However, the Ukrainian ship group decided to continue the march, since it acted within the framework of international maritime law. When the ships approached the Kerch Strait, Russia announced that the crossing was closed in both directions due to the tanker running aground. But later it turned out that the movement of the Ukrainian ships was blocked deliberately.
At about 19:00, the Armed Forces naval unit moved to the exit from the strait. Russian ships began the pursuing, and then opened fire and seized the Ukrainian ships. In addition to ships, 24 Ukrainian sailors were captured by Russian security officials. Three of them were injured and taken to Kerch hospital.
On November 27-28, the Russian-controlled "court" in Crimea arrested all Ukrainian sailors, including the wounded, for a period of 60 days. They are accused of illegally crossing the Russian border. Later, all those arrested were transferred to Moscow. A number of world leaders and international organizations have called the Russian authorities for the release of Ukrainians, but unfortunately there have been no real progress in this matter,.
The martial law regime, for the first time in Ukraine’s history, began to operate in ten regions of our country from 14:00 on November 26. The documents that regulate this were signed and published later. The reason for the introduction of the martial law is a sharp escalation of the conflict in the Kerch Strait region. Martial law was introduced in Vinnytsia, Donetsk, Zaporizhya, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kherson regions. And because of this, the first changes have already occurred. The President of Ukraine assured that the Interim Government will not entail restrictions on the rights of the population, and will not affect the timing of the presidential elections. That is why the Rada has already decided to appoint elections on March 31, 2019. The martial law should end on December 26, and the president has already assured that he does not intend to prolong it.
New explosions in military warehouses
A new calendar year - and a new high-profile incident involving the military arsenal of the Ministry of Defense. This time - in Ichnya district of Chernihiv region. This warehouse, specifically the 6th Arsenal of the Ministry of Defense, burned and exploded. The fire occurred at night on November 9th. According to the already familiar scheme, rescuers promptly resettled several tens of thousands of local residents, restricted the traffic on the roads, closed the airspace, and canceled the movement of trains. Initially, the military prosecutor's office opened a case under the article on negligence, later it was changed for sabotage, which became the main version. At certain stages of the investigation version of the attack also was not excluded. Only on November 11 - after two days - it became known about the complete elimination of fires at the Ichnya landfill. The explosions completely stopped on November 13th. Fortunately, the explosions in Ichnya did not lead to casualties among the population - local residents had only the material damage. The investigation has not yet established any specific person guilty in this situation. At least this was not officially reported. It is only known that the commander of the soldiers company in Ichnya was fined for drunk driving on the day of the explosion. Obviously, such a misdemeanor could hardly be the cause of a large-scale emergency, which was observed for several weeks not only in Ukraine, but also far beyond its borders. Fortunately, Ichnya arsenal in 2018 became the only one (unlike in previous years), where such an emergency occurred.
Nadiya Savchenko, the hero of Ukraine, a former political prisoner and current MP, this spring became the guest of the Security Service prison. Prior to this, Savchenko’s parliamentary immunity was lifted and a preventive measure was chosen.
Volodymyr Ruban, the head of the Prisoners’ Liberation Center, was detained in Donbas conflict zone on March 8 and promptly taken to the detention center in Mariupol. The detention of Ruban took place at the Mayorsky checkpoint - he tried to enter the territory controlled by Kyiv with a large arsenal of weapons. Later it became known that Ruban was preparing terrorist attacks in the center of Kyiv. Including - against the top leadership of the state. He allegedly coordinated actions with the leaders of the Donbas militants. On March 9, the court arrested Ruban for two months.
As for Nadiya Savchenko, she is one of the actual accomplices of Ruban, the Prosecutor General’s Office said. On March 14, the Prosecutor General asked the Parliament to remove her immunity and accused her of preparing the attack right in the session hall of the Rada. "The investigation has irrefutable evidence that Nadiya Savchenko personally planned, personally recruited, gave instructions on how to carry out a terrorist act here in this hall, destroying with military grenades two lodges - government and official, dropping the Parliament’s dome and kill those who will survive," so Lutsenko commented on the plans of MP. Fairly enough, Savchenko was deprived of the immunity, expelled from the national security committee; she was informed of the suspicion and taken to the prison. On March 23, the Kyiv Shevchenko court arrested Savchenko for two months; earlier she managed to go on a hunger strike in protest against the charges. The investigation into the case of Ruban - Savchenko continues to this day, and both defendants are under arrest.
Ukraine-Hungary passport scandal
Ukraine and Hungary, which relations clearly cannot be called good-neighborly after the claims after the adoption of the “Education Law” by Ukraine, have become significantly aggravated this autumn after the high-profile incident. The media published a video filmed in the border town of Beregove of Transcarpathian region, in which Ukrainians get Hungarian passports. They do not just receive the documents, but at the same time take an oath of loyalty to Hungary. Filmed events take place in the consulate of this country. The procedure itself was accompanied by advice from the Hungarian diplomat “not to inform the Ukrainian authorities” about the receipt of the document.
In Ukraine dual citizenship is prohibited, although legal responsibility for its presence is not spelled out in the laws. After publications in the media, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin promptly threatened to expel a Beregovo diplomat if the record was confirmed, and his colleague Peter Siyarto announced attempts to intimidate Transcarpathian Hungarians and threatened to further complicate Ukraine’s European integration. The investigation of the "passport scandal" was soon taken up by the prosecutor's office of the Transcarpathian region, opening a case under the article on treason. The head of the region, Gennadiy Moskal, stated that on the scandalous video the passport was received by the current Ukrainian border guard. This information was later refuted by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
The President of Ukraine commented on the conflict situation infrequently, confining himself to words about the need to respect the sovereignty of the state. The Hungarian side did not respond to the threats of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister and refused to expel its consul from Beregove. As a result, Ukraine did it, and on October 4 he was declared persona non grata. The diplomat left our country, but did not have to wait long for a response from Hungary - the Ukrainian consul was expelled from Budapest.
In early November, the ambassador of Hungary to Ukraine, Erno Keshken, completed his term in cadenza, and Istvan Iidyarto came to replace him. He has already managed to sense the tensions between the two countries in practice - on November 16, he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry. The fact is that earlier, the Prime Minister of Hungary stated that agreements with the current leadership of Ukraine are not possible for Budapest. He also noted that Ukraine has no prospect of joining NATO or the EU. This was the cause of protest from the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine. However, in the autumn of 2018, the two countries had other scandals: Hungary decided to create the post of Minister of Development of the Transcarpathian region.But then the name of the new post was changed to a more compromise one. Most recently, the parties assured each other that conflict situations in Transcarpathia have been exhausted.
Champions League final in Kyiv
In May the Ukrainian capital became the epicenter of European football life. On May 26, the Champions League final, the most prestigious European club football tournament, was held at the Olimpiyskiy Sport Complex. Tens of thousands of football fans from around the world, fan zones, foreign delegations of football officials - this is how Kyiv lived last weekend of May. In the Champions League-2018 final match we saw Madrid “Real” playing with the British “Liverpool”. The Spanish football players won.
However, despite the high appreciation of the Ukrainian capital by UEFA, there was a problem. These are prices for living in Kyiv on the days of the final, as well as the “adventures” of the Champions League Cup itself, which during its tour of Ukraine managed to visit not only public places, where simple fans took photos with it. But since the UEFA did not attach due importance to this, we dare to suggest that nothing really shocking happened. According to the results of the recent final, President Poroshenko has already managed to announce Ukraine’s aspiration to hold the European League Final or a UEFA Super Cup match on its territory.
Completion of the anti-terrorist operation, start of the Joint Forces operation
On April 30, the Anti-Terrorist Operation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions was officially completed, and the Joint Forces Operation came to replace it. Changing the format was provided by the previously adopted by the Parliament so-called reintegration law. The main innovation is to change the subordination of law enforcement and military, serving in the area of hostilities. According to this law, in the area of conflict, the Joint Operational Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will prevail. It directs the forces and means of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other military formations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Police, which are involved "in restraining and repelling Russian aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions." Law enforcement officers, military personnel and all those involved in confronting the aggressor are subordinate to the Chief of the Joint Operational Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. By the way, it is Serhiy Nayev. Despite the change of format of the operation, the situation in Donbas has not changed significantly - the militants traditionally bombard the positions of the Ukrainian military, Ukrainians shoot back. In May, an increase in the number of casualties in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the civilian population is noted, and shelling of peaceful settlements of Donbas by the illegal armed groups has also become more frequent.
Biometric control and Ukraine-Russia Friendship Treaty
From January 1, Ukraine introduced foreign citizens’ biometric control at the border. From this day, citizens of 70 countries, including Russia, will be required to take 5 fingerprints for identification when entering Ukraine and send advance notifications on the purpose of their stay. By the way, for Russians, biocontrol started to operate a few days earlier – on December 27th. At the same time, at the checkpoints in the Donbas conflict area, such an inspection of citizens is not carried out, similarly as at the administrative border with the occupied Crimea. Citizens of the peninsula who received illegitimate Russian "passports" did not fall under the innovation. By the way, during the first 8 hours of control, about 2 thousand people managed to go through it, including about half a thousand Russian citizens. Over the month, this figure has increased to 50 thousand, while the overwhelming majority is Russian citizens.
In September, Ukraine officially announced its unwillingness to continue friendship with the Russian Federation. At least in the framework of the document. The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between the Russian Federation and Ukraine was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada in January 1998. The document enshrined the principles of strategic partnership, recognized the inviolability of existing borders, respect for territorial integrity and contained a mutual obligation not to use their territory to the detriment of each other’s security. On September 21, the Foreign Ministry notified Russian colleagues of the unwillingness to renew this agreement. Prior to this, the Council of National Security and Defense supported the proposal of Petro Poroshenko on the non-renewal of the contract with the Russian Federation for the next 10 years. On September 19, the decree on the enactment of the National Security Council decision on the termination of the treaty came into force. The president himself, commenting on his initiative, explained that the friendship agreement is terminated. Later, the head of state submitted a bill to Parliament.
In the parliament, the presidential draft law was considered on December 6, it was supported by 277 deputies.
Expelling Saakashvili from the country
After several unsuccessful and successful attempts at detention and even arrest (albeit house arrest), which were undertaken in the winter of 2017-2018, the Ukrainian border guards managed to deport Mikheil Saakashvili to neighboring Poland in readmission. That is, the ex-head of the Odesa Regional State Administration essentially went back to the country from where he came to Ukraine through his famous “border breakthrough.” This happened on February 12 after another message from the press service of the politician about the attempt to “detain” him by the security forces, which this time was confirmed. Saakashvili was detained by Special Forces of the State Border Service in accordance with the decision of the migration service. The “expulsion” from Ukraine took place in a very humane way - by charter flight. After Poland, where Saakashvili had time to talk with the press, he went to the Netherlands - the home country of his family. There, the politician boasted an identity card giving the right to reside and work in the EU. After the Netherlands, Saakashvili was seen in a number of European countries. In turn, the Ukrainian border guards reported on the ban on his entry into the country for three years (until 2021), but Saakashvili himself said that he would return much earlier. In 2018, the return failed.
Ukraine has managed to create its own independent Orthodox Church. It happened on the basis of the Unification Assembly of Churches, which was held in Kyiv on December 15. On this day, the Ukrainian clergy united and approved the charter of the new local Orthodox Church, and also elected its head by secret ballot. They have chosen the Metropolitan of UOC-KP Epiphaniy (Dumenko). It is he who will go to Istanbul on January 6, and after a joint service with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, will receive from his hands the long-awaited Tomos on the granting of independence to the Ukrainian Church.
192 delegates took part in the historic event, 64 of whom are active bishops of three churches operating in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). It is worth noting that only two representatives - Metropolitan Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky and Vishnevsky of the UOC MP Olexander (Drabinko), as well as the Metropolitan of Vinnytsia Symeon, were registered from the latter to participate in the council.
Long before that, on October 11, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate supported the extension of the provision of autocephaly to Ukraine, and also officially approved that the mother church of Ukraine is Constantinople. The Synod was previously officially requested by the President of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada. Also, the Synod removed the anathema from the head of the UOC-KP Filaret and the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Macariy.
The Ukrainian parliament was also actively involved in matters of religion on December 20. On this day, a law was passed that obliges the church with the center in the aggressor country to designate this in its official name. By the way, in the conclusions of the Main Scientific and Expert Administration it is said that the law does not comply with the principle of secularism of power in Ukraine and contradicts the norms of the Constitution on equal rights, regardless of the confession. Despite this, the document was signed by the president and has already entered into force.
Moreover, a number of church parishes, primarily in western Ukraine, have already announced the transition to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (established on the basis of the Unification Council).
Ukraine on the verge of elections
The new year 2019 will be marked by presidential elections in Ukraine. In general we will elect both the president (on March 31, as the Verkhovna Rada has already decided) and the parliament (presumably, on October 27). Officially, the registration of presidential candidates started today - on the day of the electoral process official start announced by the Central Election Commission.
The direct voting will take place on March 31, 2019 from 8:00 to 20:00. After that, by April 5, 2019, the voting results by constituencies will be established, and on their basis, by April 10, the CEC will announce the result of voting in Ukraine. The results will be officially announced until April 13, 2019. If necessary, a second round of elections will be scheduled - tentatively on April 21, and the final result will be made public before May 1. The inauguration of the new president in this case will be held until May 31.
Despite the fact that the campaign itself has just started, we already know about who intends to run for presidential office. At least, according to the public statements of these people. So, earlier, a number of personalities declared their desire to compete for the presidency. They are Yulia Tymoshenko (the leader of the “Batkivschyna” party), Anatoly Grytsenko (the former Defense Minister, the head of the “Hromadska pozytsia” party), the scandalous ex-head of the Fiscal Service Roman Nasirov, people's deputies Olga Bogomolets, Olexander Shevchenko, Vitaly Kupriy, the main radical of the country Oleg Lyashko, Ruslan Koshulinsky (“Svoboda” party), Olexander Moroz (former head of parliament) and many others. It is noteworthy that the current head of state did not publicly declare his intention to run for presidential office, although he said that he would announce this after the official start of the election campaign. Representatives of the Opposition Bloc Yuriy Boyko and Olexander Vilkul also intend to participate in the elections.
Important decisions of parliament in 2018
In early 2018, Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on the Donbas reintegration. The document includes a list of the occupied territories, a reference to the date of the beginning of the occupation and the imposition of responsibility for moral and material damage on the Russian Federation.
By a separate act, the deputies renamed the Highly Mobile Airborne Troops into the Airborne Assault Troops - to avoid the abbreviations Airborne Forces, which is associated with Russian paratroopers.
In summer, the parliament adopted another important law from the defense bloc – “On national security”. The document prescribed a system of subordination of military personnel and clarified that the Minister of Defense is a civilian, as well as in NATO countries.
In the fifth year of military operations, Verkhovna Rada equalized the rights of women and men in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Now women can serve longer, retire according to military ranks and receive a higher pension.
In the autumn, MPs extended the special status of Donbas until the end of 2019. The norm on the special order of local self-government in Donbas will begin to operate when Russia withdraws its troops and equipment.
As noted above, the parliament made its contribution to the obtaining Tomos - 268 deputies supported the President’s appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch on this subject. And at the end of the year, the Rada obliged the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to indicate its links with the Russian Federation in its official name. It is noteworthy that the frustration of some of the people's representatives on this issue resulted in a fight.
The anti-corruption court is another important decision of the parliament. In the session hall for a long time they debated about who will choose anti-corruption judges. The law that had already been adopted had to be changed in terms of the consideration of appeals, but the result is good: candidates for judges are selected. It is expected that the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court will start its work until June 14, 2019.
In the end of the year, the parliament approved a calendar of memorable dates. It was decided that in the 2019, the anniversary of Stepan Bandera’s birth and the 90th anniversary of the Patriarch Filaret should be celebrated at the state level.
In conclusion, it remains to recall that the New Year is not far off. We hope and believe that for our country 2019 will pass under the sign of good news, prosperity and well-being. Well, you can be the first to find out about these good news on the page of 112.ua, on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Join us if you have not done this before.