Three past winter months were full of turbulent events. There were some pleasant ones (for example, New Year and Christmas holidays or an increase in salaries and pensions) and disturbing ones (martial law in December). Nevertheless, the difficult winter of 2018-2019 has come to an end, which means it’s time to take stock.
End of martial law
For the first time in Ukraine’s history, the martial law regime operated in ten regions of our country from November 26 to December 26, 2018. The reason for the introduction of martial law was a sharp escalation of the conflict in the Kerch Strait area. The Russian Navy attacked the Ukrainian vessels, damaged them and captured the crews, 24 Ukrainian sailors. Currently, the captured men are at remand centers in Moscow. 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 border guards did not allow 1,650 citizens of Russia to enter Ukraine during the martial law. In their turn, the Russian border guards banned 351 Ukrainians from entry during these 30 days. Initially, it was suggested to announce 60-days martial law regime; some expert believed that the martial law was an attempt to postpone the upcoming presidents' elections (scheduled for March 31, 2018), but President Poroshenko could not find enough allies (including Western ones) to implement this plan.
New 2019 Year, new rules
From January 1 in Ukraine:
- The law on the state budget for 2019 came into force;
- Two new positions were introduced in all medical institutions of the country;
- New rules for taxation of parcels from abroad came into force;
- Electronic visas, which are required for entry into the country, have risen in price;
- The new norms of the Tax Code came into force in terms of cigarette excise and CO2 tax;
- The law on new housing for the defenders of the state who served in the Donbas or Crimea came into force;
- The law on increasing responsibility for the illegal logging and export of wood began to operate.
The growth of salaries and pensions
The minimum wage has become a few dollars higher, now it is 149 USD, the cost of living is 66 USD. In the winter, their significant increase in the pensions would not take place, but it would happen just before the elections. February 25, President Poroshenko announced that Ukraine’s retirees with the lowest pensions would get a 90 USD one-time payment before elections in March or in April of 2019. 1,8 million out of Ukraine’s 11,5 million pensioners are promised to get the money. An average pension in Ukraine amounts to nearly 100 USD, but there are some pensioners who receive 55 USD a month.
New Autocephalous Church, Tomos
The Unification Assembly of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church kicked off at the Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Kyiv on December 15, 2018. The newly formed community has received independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution considered the so-called "first among equals" of leaders of the world's Orthodox Churches. Ukrainian authorities have sought to portray Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine as supporting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, claims that the clerics have rejected.
Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine was elected primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on 15 December 2018.
The ceremony of signing of the Tomos took place on January 5, 2019, in Istanbul. On January 6, 2019, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew handed the Tomos on autocephaly and bishops’ crosier to Head of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Epifaniy. The same day, Tomos landed in Kyiv.
Start of the election campaign
The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Ukraine has created 199 district election commissions for the upcoming presidential election on March 3. presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for March 31, 2019. The election campaign has officially started on December 31, 2018. Registration of the candidates was closed on February 4, 2019, and on February 9, the final list of presidential candidates has appeared. The candidates would be able to withdraw their candidacy until March 7, 2019. Ukraine's CEC has registered 44 presidential candidates. The Verkhovna Rada registered the bill No.9524 which calls for ruling out the participation of the observers from the aggressor state in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine. ODIHR offered to include two citizens of Russia to the list of the mission on the observation of the Ukrainian presidential elections on 31 March 2019, despite the conditions declared by Ukraine.
Almost a million Ukrainian citizens will not be able to vote on the presidential election. Central Election Commission of Ukraine closed all polling station in Russia, particularly, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk.
January 25, Obolon District Court of Kyiv sentenced the former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to 13 years of imprisonment in absence of the defendant. Pursuant to the sentence, Yanukovych was found guilty under Section 1 of Article 111 (“State treason”), Section 5 of Article 27, Section 2 of Article 437 (“Facilitation of aggressive war”) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, but acquitted under Section 5 of Article 27, Section 3 of Article 110 (Encroach on the territorial integrity and the inviolability of Ukraine that led to serious consequences”) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The court found Yanukovych guilty of addressing the Russian President Putin and asking him to deploy troops in Ukraine.
54 million 267 thousand dollars, which previously belonged to ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, were transferred to the State budget
The High Council of Justice ruled the decision to suspend Kostiantyn Vasalatiy, the judge of the Obolon District Court of Kyiv after he sentenced the ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.
Suprun in/out of Ukraine’s acting Healthcare minister office
Kyiv District Court has prohibited Ulyana Suprun from exercising the power of Ukraine’s Health Minister, as the court’s decision says. It was published by Ukrainian MP Igor Mosiychuk on his Facebook page. "The court explained its decision by finding the signs of obvious fraud - Suprun obtained Ukrainian citizenship in 2015, but still did not renounce her US citizenship; public official in Ukraine cannot have dual citizenship
Suprun has been serving as acting minister since August 1, 2016. Suprun's role as acting health minister had been questioned by MP from Radical Party of Lyashko Ihor Mosiychuk. The court took into consideration Mosiychuk's concerns regarding Suprun's dual citizenship - she has both Ukrainian and American passports. During the conflict at Kyiv Heart Center of world-famous cardiac surgeon Borys Todurov, Suprun tried to intimidate the workers and the management of the medical institution with the help of the far-right C14 organization, included in the American terrorist base.
February 14, the court allowed Ulyana Suprun to act within the competence of Ukraine’s Health Minister.
Ukraine will not send its representative to Eurovision-2019, which is scheduled for spring in Israel.
Maruv won the Ukrainian national selection for Eurovision and should perform with Siren Song in the first semi-final of the Eurovision, which will take place on May 14. Her performance was planned for the second half of the show. But she would not present Ukraine at the song contest “Eurovision 2019”. Maruv said that she was forced to refuse from the participation in the contest from Ukraine due to her tour in Russia.
The organizers of the Eurovision are familiar with the situation concerning Eurovision participants in Ukraine. They outlined that the political views of the participants do not matter out of the contest.