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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK: SEPTEMBER 2 – 6, 2019

Donbas conflict, prisoners swap, developments in MH17 case, lifting parliamentary immunity, Serena Williams beats Elina Svitolina
22:30, 6 September 2019

112 Agency

Donbas conflict zone

Ukraine's Air Force lost one of their servicemen in Donbas conflict. The service branch's press office reported that on Facebook on Monday. Andriy Protsenko, 24, deceased in the attack on Monday. The military has not yet revealed the place where the tragedy occurred, nor it is known what actually caused his death.

The 8-hour talks regarding Normandy Format meeting ended in Berlin on September 2. Political advisers discussed the implementation of arrangements that could facilitate conducting of the talks, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

German government allocated one million Euros to support the Ukrainians who suffered consequences of Donbas conflict. 

Oleksandr Rakushyn, the retired officer of the Ukrainian army has been released from custody. He remained there as a suspected agent of Russia's FSB (federal security agency). UNN news agency reported that with a reference to Rodion Pugach, the lawyer of Rakushyn. Oleksandr Rakushyn was released under personal recognizance; this decision is due to the expected captives' exchange between Ukraine and Russia. "These events are connected. Though he (Rakushyn, - 112 International) is a citizen of Ukraine, he voluntarily agreed to be exchanged to Russia", Pugach said.

Related: Impeachment bill: What president does Zelensky's initiative mean?

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Prisoners swap between Ukraine and Russia

On September 3, Lefortovo Moscow prison admitted the parcels for 24 Ukrainian sailors and 8 political prisoners.

Later Russian mass media reported that the prisoners’ exchange between Ukraine and Russia may start on September 7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that this time it will be a “major” exchange. He added that future prisoners’ exchange shall become a step towards normalization of relations between Ukraine and Russia.

American senator Chris Murphy suggested that the prisoners’ release in Russia and Ukraine may lead to the reduction of the tension in relations between the states.

 

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MH17: Ukraine releases key suspect

The most outrageous piece of news from Ukraine became public on September 5. Ukrainian court ruled to release Volodymyr Tsemakh, the key witness in the MH17 case. In July, Tsemakh, the ex-“chief” of the anti-aircraft defense of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic was detained during a special operation by Ukraine’s SBU, the State Security Service. According to the investigation results provided by the multinational Joint Investigation Team, Tsemakh was directly involved in the downing of Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines in July 2014.

The Dutch side asked the Ukrainian government to keep Tsemakh for further interviews in this case. Foreign Minister of the Netherlands Stef Blok stated that he was “in close contact” with the Ukrainian authorities on the release of MH17 case suspect. But on Thursday, the court ruled to let him go “under personal recognizance”. Tsemakh, the Ukrainian citizen appeared in the exchange list of the Russian Federation, as Ukraine and Russia plan a large-scale prisoner swap.

The pro-Kremlin culprit may end up in Russia or the occupied Donbas, and, thus, Ukraine and the Netherlands are about to lose the key witness in the MH17 case, the man who is most likely behind the murder of 298 people aboard a passenger aircraft.

 

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Ukraine & IMF

Finance Minister Oksana Markarova expressed hope that the current program with the IMF will be the last and Ukraine will be able to live without loans.

Besides, Ukraine made the last payment to the IMF under a stand-by program in amount of $156,4 million.

Moreover, the National Bank of Ukraine is expecting a visit of the IMF next week.

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Parliamentary immunity

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine finally amended the Constitution and restricted the immunity of the MPs. Ukrainian Parliament’s Speaker signs law on lifting MPs’ immunity from 2020.

Read about removing immunity in Ukraine and all over the globe.

In addition, the bill on President's impeachment was registered in Ukrainian Parliament.

Related: Removing immunity of Ukraine's MPs in questions and answers

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Sanctions

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated that America is likely to strengthen sanctions against Russia due to its occupation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Besides, the EU Ambassadors agreed to extend the sanctions against Russian officials and organizations.

Related: Dead vs. living souls: How many people reside "Donbas republics"

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Sports

Yevhen Konoplyanka, Ukraine’s top football player and the winger of Ukraine’s national football team left Schalke 04 and joined Shakhtar Donetsk.

Elina Svitolina, Ukraine’s No.1 in tennis lost to another legendary athlete Serena Williams; the loss in two sets (6:3, 6:1) eliminated her from the US Open semifinals. Thus, Elina suffered her fifth loss in six games that she spent against Serena Williams in her career so far; Williams, Jr. lost to Svitolina just once. Besides, the Ukrainian repeated her personal best, making it to two consecutive semifinals of a Grand Slam competition.

Ukraine's light-welterweight boxer Viktor Postol will fight American Jose Ramirez in the bout for the WBC title. The Ukrainian will try to take the belt from Ramirez, the incumbent WBC world champion in this division. According to VRinge portal, the athletes will fight for the right to stand against British Jack Caterall, the No.1 contender in WBO. 

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Ukraine marked its 28th Independence Day, Verkhovna Rada approved new Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers and Prime Minister of Israel visited Ukraine, - watch the main news from Ukraine for August, 2019.

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