Russia-backed militants continue to shell Ukrainian positions in Donbas; specifically, 82 and 120 mm mortar attacks were observed over this week. OSCE observers added that they heard about 300 explosions over December 31 and January 1.
On January 2, the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) claimed that violation of the New Year and Christmas truce by the pro-Russian militants in Donbas is due to the stakes of the leaders of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Italian Foreign Ministry urged both warring sides to abide by Minsk agreements. Angelino Alfano, the Minister of Foreign Affairs claimed this in the statement dedicated to the chairmanship in the OSCE. 'The crisis in and around Ukraine has called into question the very principles on which the OSCE is based. Italy will continue to support all OSCE efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict and urges the sides to fully implement the Minsk agreements,' Alfano said.
An important visit to Ukraine took place within frameworks of the Minsk peace process, as German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel came to Kyiv for negotiations with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin. They were supposed to visit the conflict zone in Donbas, but it was postponed due to bad weather conditions. The German official insisted that Russia return its officers to the line-up of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Donbas. Gabriel also said Germany initiated the Normandy Four session during the 54th Munich Security Conference, which is slated for February 2018.
Vandals destroyed the memorial dedicated to the Ukrainian warriors who perished in Donbas conflict; the incident took place in Kostyantynivka, the Ukraine-held area of Donbas.
Iryna Nozdrovska, a human rights activist, found dead in Kyiv region.
Law enforcement officers found the body of the human rights defender Iryna Nozdrovska in a river of Kyiv region on January 1, who disappeared three days ago. Relatives of Iryna Nozdrovska reported her disappearance on December 29.
She investigated the death of her sister, who in September 2015 died in an accident with the car of Dmytro Rossoshansky, the nephew of a district judge, who was in a state of drug intoxication at the time of the accident.
Two years after the accident, Iryna was able to obtain punishment for Rossoshansky. At the end of May 2017 the court sentenced him to 7 years in prison, but on December 27 he almost escaped from custody: in the Court of Appeal of the Kyiv region, the lawyer tried to appeal the verdict and bring his client under amnesty, using the violations committed by the court of the first instance. As Irina's relatives said, she constantly received threats from Rossoshansky.
Best detectives involved in the investigation, Ukrainian police involved various agencies, services and departments, however, the lawyer of Nozdrovska initiates his own investigation due to the lack of "confidence in the law enforcement bodies”. The lawyer also does not exclude the hypothesis that the close people to Dmytro Rossoshansky who killed the sister of Nozdrovska in 2015 in the car accident can be involved in the murder of Iryna but he will also concern the other hypotheses.
37 cases of hepatitis A are registered in Mykolaiv, Southern Ukraine. The diagnosis was confirmed for 16 people.
The police opened a criminal proceeding due to the mass infection. The punishment is three to eight years in prison.
The year began with the decision of the Appeal Court of Kyiv to postpone the appeal of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine against the decision of Pechersk District Court on the choosing of the restrictive measure for Mikheil Saakashvili. Such decision was made due to the absence of the MPs that are ready to bail Mikheil Saakashvili. According to the judge, they should be present in the courtroom and their rights and duties should be explained.
However, the District Administrative Court of Kyiv found legal the refusal of the State Migration Service to provide the refugee status or the status of a person needed the political defense to Saakashvili on January 4. The defense of Saakashvili claimed that they will appeal this decision to the court.
On January 5 the Tbilisi city court found Mikheil Saakashvili guilty in the case of Sandro Girgvliani’s murder and sentenced him to three years in prison. Saakashvili is accused of abusing power, as, according to the investigation, the then-president of Georgia unlawfully promised Data Akhalaia, then-Chief of the Department of Constitutional Security, to pardon those convicted for the murder. This way, Gia Alania, Avtandil Aptsiauri, Aleksandre Gachava and Mikheil Bibiluri were pardoned. This caused public indignation, as a result of which, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was fired.
In his turn, Saakashvili claimed that the sentence of the Georgian court is illegal and contradictory to the international standards and common sense. He insisted that the judgment of the president for his right to pardon that is not limited shows that the process possesses the political nature.
Starting Jan.1 2018, citizens of 70 countries and stateless persons are obliged to give 5 fingerprints for identification when entering Ukraine and send notice of intending to enter the country in advance.
Although the decision has caused public attention and displeasure, citizens of many countries (the EU, USA, Canada, and Australia included) shouldn’t worry about the procedure at all – the list of the countries whose citizens are required to go through biometric data collection is available here.
Now the passing of the Ukrainian border for citizens of these 70 counties has three stages. Firstly, the individuals are to submit a prior notification about their plans to come Ukraine. Secondly, the data is to be recorded at the border, either with the help of the biometric passport, or by collecting the biometric data. Lastly, individuals are to be registered at the place, where they are planning to stay.
To the utmost regret of many drivers, Ukraine has introduced a new speed limit of 50 km/h in cities and towns. The decision was deemed necessary due to a high death rate in road accidents (which is four times bigger than the death toll in the combat zone of Eastern Ukraine).
If previously the speed limit in settlements was 60 km/h, with a within-law exceeding of 20 km/h, now it’s 50 km/h, and speed above 60 km/h would be a violation of traffic rules.
However, the “fast and furious” might be pleased to know that system of video and photo recording of the drivers breaking the new 50 km/h speed limit in cities hasn’t started on Jan. 1. It should be introduced in the first quarter of 2018, and the pessimistic forecast is the middle or the second half of the year.
Apart from that, Ukrainian government restricted the validity term for the first driver’s licenses to two years. If during these two years the person doesn’t break the traffic rules more than two times or doesn’t break them at all, after the time runs out the person will be given the driving license valid for 30 years, without additional exams.