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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK: MARCH 18 – 22

Read about Donbas conflict, Azov crisis, political prisoners, corruption in Ukraine and other main news of the week
22:30, 22 March 2019

112 Agency

Donbas conflict

Canada extended its military training mission in Ukraine. Reuters reported that, citing its sources. Minister of Foreign Affairs Christine Freeland and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan spoke at the press conference, where they would most certainly announce that the government continues its work with the Ukrainian military.

President Petro Poroshenko stated that almost 3,000 army soldiers and officers deceased in combat in Donbas since the beginning of this year.

Ukrainian soldiers who stay in the territory of the holding of Joint Forces Operation on the day of election of the president of Ukraine will be able to vote at equipped tents, the imitation of special polling stations, Defense Ministry of Ukraine reported. “For the deployment of the places for voting, the work of the precinct commissions in the territory of the military units, which create special polling stations and other property for the equipment of the special polling stations,” the message said.

Local authorities of Luhansk region will appeal to Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine concerning the situation with the possible blackout of the mines in the region. Such a decision was made during the session of the regional commission on technogenic environmental issues and emergencies, as local authority reported.

The Ukrainian forces deployed in Donbas managed to shoot down the strike drone of the Russian occupants. The press office of the Joint Forces Operation HQ posted this on Facebook.

The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the order № 82/2019, which implements the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine from March 19, 2019, on ‘implementation, cancellation and adding of amendments to the personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)’. The sanctions are aimed at the heads of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation as well.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has sent nine trucks with humanitarian aid to the militant-controlled territory of Donbas, as the press office of Ukraine’s Border Guard Service reported.

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Azov crisis

Australian Foreign Ministry reported that the government imposed sanctions against seven citizens of the Russian Federation in connection with Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait in November 2018.

POW, Ukrainian sailor Vasyl Soroka underwent a surgery that he needed after the injury in the attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait. Lawyer Sergey Badamishyn reported that on “Defense of POW Ukrainian sailors” Facebook’s group. The information was confirmed by Nina Karpachova, the Vice President of the European Ombudsman Institute.

All 24 Ukrainian POW sailors were obliged to pass the psychological-psychiatric examination, as lawyer Nikolai Polozov reported on Facebook. His colleague Islyam Velilyaev appealed against the appointment of the examination as Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War does not provide the holding of such events toward the POWs. Moreover, the prosecution did not provide any grounds for the appointment of examination. The defense also provided the request about the presence of the lawyer during the examination.

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U.S. B-52 Stratofortress bombers in Europe

On March 17 it was reported that the U.S. transferred two strategic nuclear B-52H Stratofortress bombers to Europe. Aircraft DRYER91 and DRYER92 took off from the Barksdale air base in Louisiana and landed at the airfield in the UK on March 16. It was supposed that it was due to Moscow continuing ramping up its own military presence in the region, prompting the US to do the same.

Later, Russia confirmed deployment of Tu-22M3 strategic bombers in annexed Crimea. According to Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Shamanov, the issue is about “the missile aircraft, which undergo deep modernization, and they are capable to destroy any target in Europe.”

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U.S. State Department VS Ukraine's Prosecutor General

An international scandal a week ahead of presidential elections hit Ukraine. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in his interview to The Hill stated that the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch handled him a 'do-not-prosecute list'.

U.S. State Department denied Ukraine’s Prosecutor words about do-not-prosecute list and called Lutsenko’s statement “a blatant falsification”.

Ukraine’s President expressed his strong support to the U.S. Ambassador.

A month earlier, Marie Yovanovitch urged Ukrainian authorities to dismiss current Head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine (SAPO) Nazar Kholodnytsky, to immediately finance the complete audit of Ukroboronprom and declassify the state defense contract in the fullest extent possible, etc.

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Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia

March 20, a documentary dubbed 'Putin's hostages: Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin' was aired in the session hall of the European Parliament.

This week Ukraine’s representative to the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group Iryna Gerashchenko stated that the Ukraine would demand to set the date when Ukraine will pass 25 Russians convicted in Ukraine in exchange for the Ukrainian political prisoners kept in Russian.

Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Gryb delivered his last plea in North Caucasus military court in Rostov-on Don, Russia. Court sentenced him to six years in standard regime penal colony for terrorism. Besides, Russia rejected Ukraine’s proposal to exchange Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Gryb sentenced to six years of imprisonment for Russian mercenary Alexey Sedikov sentenced to 11 years behind bars.

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Corruption in Ukraine

This week Ukroboronprom stated that it did not exported ammunition to the Russian Federation since 2014. Later Chairman of Temporary Investigation Committee on embezzlements at defense sphere stated that the accusations, voiced by the journalists’ investigation are based on the non-existent phone talks.

Considering the illicit enrichment, Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office Head stated that the proceedings against Infrastructure Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Omelyan would be closed as the article on such crime was recognized unconstitutional. Besides, he added that all criminal proceedings on the illicit enrichment would be closed up to March 27.

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Sanctions against Russia

On March 18, Australia imposed sanctions against seven citizens of Russian Federation due to Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait in November 2018

Later Ukrainian President Poroshenko signed the order, which activates the decision to impose sanctions against 294 legal entities and 848 individuals involved in the aggression against Ukraine, in Crimea and Donbas. The decision on sanctions came into force on March 21.

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KyivNotKiev movement

This week, International airports of Batumi and Tbilisi (Georgia) changed the way they spell the Ukrainian cities. From now on, they are using the correct one: Kyiv instead of Kiev, Lviv and Odesa instead of Lvov and Odessa, respectively. 

Bucharest International Airport also replaced the name of Ukraine’s capital from Kiev to Kyiv.

Earlier, the Guardian newspaper has also updated its style guide adding the Ukrainian capital’s name Kyiv as the correct spelling. The European Union’s diplomatic service (European External Action Service, EEAS) has also changed Kiev to Kyiv in its email addresses.

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