Saturday, June 15, 2019

Chernobyl: Russian communist party calls for ‘disgusting’ HBO show to be banned

June 15, 2019 (INDEPENDENT) A Marxist-Leninist political party has called for a ban of historical TV miniseries Chernobyl in Russia, dubbing the show “disgusting”. In a statement, party member Sergey Malinkovich spoke of the party’s intentions to lobby TV regulator Roskomnadzor about how the show represents Russia.
The party will request that the regulator blocks local access, stating that the series “turned a tragedy into an object of ideological manipulation,” “demonizing the Soviet regime and Soviet people”. The party has also called for a libel lawsuit against Chernobyl’s writer, director and producers. But, according to Roskomnadzor, a formal complaint has not been received as of yet.
Despite this, Malinkovich has conceded that the series correctly portrayed key moments of the nuclear disaster. This comes after the announcement that a Russian version of the series had been commissioned, partially funded by the culture ministry. Chernobyl – which stars Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgård – tells the story of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Soviet Ukraine, and has been met with high acclaim. The show is the highest rated TV series of all time on Internet Movie Database (IMDB), beating out competitors such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Lithuania to donate Soviet-made light small arms ammunition to Ukraine

June 12, 2019 (www.army-technology.com) The Lithuanian Government has decided to donate Soviet-made light small arms ammunition to the Ukraine Ministry of Defence (MoD). Worth €255,000 and transferred on a non-reimbursable basis, the ammunition can be used in automatic rifles, machine-guns to ensure national security and defence. The Lithuanian Armed Forces is currently not using the munitions and is not planning to use them in future. Lithuania National Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said: “The transfer of assets is a part of consistent and comprehensive Lithuanian support to Ukraine as it strengthens its defence capabilities in order to ensure independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the country.

Lithuania donates ammunitions worth €255,000 to the Ukraine Defence Ministry Credit: MoD archive.

The Baltic state has been providing military aid, political support and legally permitted assistance to Ukraine since 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, an autonomous republic within Ukraine. Lithuania’s material assistance and weaponry element to the Ukrainian Armed Forces falls under all applicable international agreements and conventions, as well as European Union and national legislation. The transferred assets can also be used by the Ukrainian MoD’s subordinate institutions. They can be deployed during participation in regional and collective agreements, and activities in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations. In a statement, the Lithuania National Defence Ministry said: “The stance has the support of Lithuania’s population; 64% of respondents in a public opinion poll carried by request of the Ministry of National Defence late last year were in favour of Lithuania’s military assistance to Ukraine.” “Also, Lithuania and allies assist Ukraine in its reform, training and mentoring of its armed forces, Lithuania provides medical care for injured Ukrainian soldiers.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Zelensky, Juncker set date for Ukraine-EU summit

June6, 2019 (UNIAN) The Ukrainian president underscored the "immutable priorities set in the Constitution of Ukraine," first of all, the strategic course of the state on acquiring full membership in the EU and NATO. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky during a Tuesday's meeting with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels expressed interest in holding the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv on July 8 this year. The presidential administration says Volodymyr Zelensky held the meeting with Juncker in the framework of the working visit to the EU and NATO institutions on June 4. "The negotiations on a wide range of issues of cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union confirmed willingness of the parties to further develop cooperation in all areas of mutual interest," reads the administration's statement.
The Ukrainian president underscored the "immutable priorities set in the Constitution of Ukraine," first of all, the strategic course of the state on acquiring full membership in the EU and NATO, as well as Ukraine's willingness to adhere to its obligations, in particular in relations with international financial institutions. In turn,  Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated EU's full support for Ukraine "in implementing its European integration choice on the path of democratic and market transformations."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

SMB 2019 Trip to Poltava

A regular delegation of the Swedish Society of the Military History (Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliootek) visited the Museum of the Battle of Poltava on May 16. This time, our Swedish friends presented the museum with a bust of King Charles 12, a set of ancient coins, laser projector, antique engravings, and documents. I am very pleased to offer to your attention some photos taken  during the stay of the SMB delegation in Poltava.
Med länken nedan kan du få tillgång till många bilder som tagits i Poltava och Kiev.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

High fives, selfies and a snap election as Zelenskiy takes power in Ukraine


May 22, 2019 (Reuters) Television comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy took the oath of office as Ukraine’s new president on Monday, promising that as hard as he had worked in the past to make Ukrainians laugh, he would now work to keep them from crying. As his first act, he dismissed the parliament still dominated by loyalists of his defeated predecessor, setting up an election in two months in which his new party has a chance to win its first seats. The inauguration day was marked by informal moments that conveyed the outsider persona that helped carry the political novice to a landslide victory last month.

Ukraine's President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy takes the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kiev, Ukraine May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Zelenskiy high fived cheering supporters who held their arms outstretched outside the Soviet-era parliament building, and stopped for a selfie with the crowd. At one point he jumped up to kiss a man on the forehead. He later eschewed a motorcade to make his way to his new office on foot. “Dear people, during my life I tried to do everything to make Ukrainians smile,” he said in his speech to parliament. “In the next five years, I will do everything, Ukrainians, so that you do not cry.” But there were already signs of friction with a political class in which Zelenskiy has few allies. Parliament is still dominated by the bloc named for Zelenskiy’s defeated opponent Petro Poroshenko and smaller parties founded mostly as personal vehicles for political insiders. The decision to dissolve parliament prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who came to power in 2016 as part of Poroshenko’s coalition. Groysman said he was stepping down to fight the upcoming snap election. “I proposed to the president, the parliament, that we together form a new agenda and very quickly begin to make decisions that would make Ukraine stronger. The president has chosen a different path,” Groysman said. Zelenskiy grew to national fame playing the TV comedy role of a schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president after a pupil films him making a foul-mouthed tirade against corrupt politicians and posts the video online. His campaign exploited the parallels with that fictional narrative, portraying him as an everyman who would stand up to a crooked political class. In his inauguration speech, Zelenskiy called on officials to take down the customary portraits of the president that hang in their offices, and put up pictures of their children instead.
Read the whole article and see a video at

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ukraine outlaws Russian passports issued for its citizens in Donbas

May 9, 20119 (Kyiv Post) The Ukrainian government has invalidated Russian passports issued to Ukrainian citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which are partially occupied by the Russian-backed militants. “The passports issued to Ukrainian citizens on our territory, the territory of the sovereign Ukrainian state, will be deemed illegal … when crossing the state border and when used on the territory of our state,” said Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman at a cabinet meeting on May 8. Groysman also called on other countries to do the same. Vadym Chernysh, minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons, said the decision had been made during the May 8 meeting. Russian passports issued in Russia’s Rostov Oblast will also be deemed illegal, he added. The Ukrainian authorities will identify such documents by the code of the issuing body. The Ukrainian government also intends to prepare a list of Russian officials who were involved in organizing and implementing the procedure simplifying the issuing of Russian passport in occupied Donbas, Chernysh said.

A Ukrainian border guard scans a passport of a Russian citizen crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border on the checkpoint of Goptivka, near Kharkiv, on Jan. 3, 2018. Photo by AFP

“We are preparing a list of such Russian Federation officials to whom personal sanctions should be applied in cooperation with international partners,” Chernysh told journalists after the cabinet meeting, the Interfax news agency reported. Veteran Affairs Minister Iryna Friz said on Facebook that the government will consider depriving Ukrainian citizens from Donbas of their pensions and social benefits should they receive Russian passports in an unlawful way. On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing people who live in the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to gain Russian passports through a simplified procedure. Three days later, on April 27, Putin said that the Russian government was considering applying simplified procedures to all Ukrainians applicants for Russian citizenship. The decree will allow more than 3 million Ukrainians to apply for Russian passports bypassing a number of criteria for gaining Russian citizenship.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Aeroflot plane crash: 41 killed on Russian jet

May 6, 2019 (BBC News) Forty-one people died after a Russian plane made an emergency landing and burst into flames just after takeoff from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Dramatic video shows passengers using emergency exit slides to escape the burning Aeroflot aircraft. Survivors suggest the plane was struck by lightning, but Russia's national carrier said only that it returned to the airport for technical reasons. Two children are among the dead. The jet had 73 passengers and five crew. Initial reports suggested the plane had landed on fire, but sources quoted by Russian news agency Interfax said the jet caught fire after a very bumpy landing. The aircraft landed with full fuel tanks because the crew lost contact with air traffic controllers and decided it was too dangerous to dump fuel over Moscow, Interfax added. "There are 37 survivors - 33 passengers and four members of the crew," said Yelena Markovskaya, an official involved in the investigation of the crash. A flight attendant was also reportedly killed in the incident. Five people are in hospital. One witness said it was a "miracle" anyone escaped.
What happened to the plane?
The aircraft, a Sukhoi Superjet-100, left the airport on May 5 at 18:02 local time (15:02 GMT), bound for Murmansk. Its crew sent a distress signal when "malfunctions" occurred in bad weather shortly after take-off. After making an emergency landing at the airport, the plane's engines caught fire on the runway, Aeroflot said, adding that the crew "did everything to save the passengers".


RIA news agency has broadcast a video clip shot by a passenger as the plane caught fire on the tarmac. A sheet of flame can be seen through the window, and a cloud of sparks, while people scream in panic and a voice - apparently a flight attendant - is heard saying "keep calm". Video shot from airport buildings shows passengers fleeing the stricken jet via an inflatable slide at the front and running away from the inferno.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Narcissus Valley

May 4, 2019 (Green Ukraine) It is the only place in the the Eastern Europe with natural blooming bushes. Imagine a green carpet which is scattered with a delicate white flowers – not dozens or even thousands of them – such a huge number that it defies calculation. This magnificent picture can only be seen here in April and May, during mass flowering of plants.
In the 1970s, the local authorities decided that the Narcissus Valley should be used for agricultural purposes. When the botanists and environment-protection enthusiasts learned about this decision, they launched a save-the-narcissi campaign, and surprisingly enough, the higher authorities took steps to secure the Valley of Narcissus as a natural preserve. The government passed a decree which made the Valley a part of the Carpathian Natural Preserve, and thus put it under the protection of law. All the same, continuing encroachments considerably reduced the territory of the narcissi preserve from what it was fifty years ago to its present size (now it occupies an area of about 257 hectares, or 643 acres).


In 1980, it was decided that the grasses in the Valley should be regularly mowed and the narcissus section weeded. Thus some of the problems were removed, but others remain. A road that was built to cut across the valley, plus the summer houses at the edges of the Valley reduced the amount of water in the Valley, and it affected the narcissus which began to retreat from some of the places where they used to be in abundance; these flowers also began to produce fewer seeds. Drier conditions and fewer seeds may threaten the narcissus survival and now plans are made to introduce an irrigation system.
The Narcissus Valley flowering spectacle (from 10 to 25 of May) is an unforgettable sight. Many tourists, both from Ukraine and from foreign countries — Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, and the USA among them, come to Khust to have a look at the wonder flower and to breathe the salubrious air. This nature phenomenon is worth to see it at least once in life!

Friday, May 3, 2019

President-elect Zelensky invites representatives of large, medium and small businesses to meeting in coming days

May 3, 2019 (Interfax-Ukraine) President-elect of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky invites representatives of large, medium and small businesses to a meeting in the near future.
"Under my presidency, relations with businessmen will be transparent. No more backstage talks, night visits to the Administration [President's Office] and agreements hidden from the society. Therefore, I officially invite representatives of large, small and medium businesses to the meeting in the coming days. It's high time to come clear," wrote Zelensky on his Facebook page on Thursday. "It's time for everyone to work for the country according to transparent rules," he added.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Final Ukrainian election results confirm Volodymyr Zelenskiy's easy victory

April 30, 2019 (Reuters) Ukraine's central election commission on Tuesday published final results of the presidential poll confirming that a comedian with no political experience had won the country's presidential election by a landslide. Volodymyr Zelenskiy's win was a bitter blow for incumbent Petro Poroshenko and presents a riddle for investors, the West and Russia who wonder what approach he will take on everything from relations with Moscow to the domestic banking sector. With 100 percent of votes counted, Zelenskiy had won 73 percent of the vote with Poroshenko winning just under 25 percent, the central election commission said. 

Zelenskiy, 41, will take leadership of a country on the frontline of the West's standoff with Russia following Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its support for a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The ex-comedian, the latest anti-establishment figure to unseat an incumbent, both in Europe and further afield, has promised to end the war in the eastern Donbass region and to root out corruption amid widespread dismay over rising prices and sliding living standards. But he has not said exactly how he plans to achieve all that.

Friday, April 26, 2019

UN to mark 33rd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster

April 26, 2019 (www.rte.ie) A ceremony marking International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day will be held at the United Nations in New York today. On this day in 1986, a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine with devastating consequences. Today’s event at the United Nations will be co-hosted by the Irish Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne-Nason and will be addressed by Adi Roche of Chernobyl Children International. A message from President Michael D Higgins will be read and a minute’s silence will be observed.
31 plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident in 1986

The UN ceremony, will also recognize a new TV drama about the Chernobyl disaster, which has been made by HBO and Sky. The five part mini-series is due to air next month and stars Irish actors Jessie Buckley and Barry Keoghan. There will be a screening of the TV drama at today’s commemoration and some of the cast and crew are due to attend the ceremony. Speaking ahead of the event, Adi Roche said the upcoming mini-series portrays Chernobyl as never seen before. "It is helping us to see Chernobyl with fresh heart, fresh understanding, fresh compassion - retelling the story to a new and wider audience," she said.
Young people in Ukraine attend a memorial at the Chernobyl victims monument in Slavutych, where the power station's personnel lived

In the early hours of 26 April, 1986 a safety test at the Chernobyl nuclear plant went wrong. Reactor number four exploded unleashing a massive cloud of radiation that spread across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and parts of Europe. Thirty-one plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident. There are estimates that thousands more later died directly or indirectly as a result of exposure to the radioactivity but there are no agreed statistics on the total number of lives lost. More than 30 years on, many communities in Belarus and Ukraine continue to struggle with the medical, environmental and economic consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
A massive protective shelter now covers the site

Read more at:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Washington Post: Enough Ukraine fatigue. The new president will need our help


April 24, 2019 (UNIAN) The West must stop acting as if it has no stake in the outcome and move quickly to help the newly elected president lead his compatriots toward a more democratic, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine.

It's a moment of truth for Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky has won a landslide victory in the second round of Ukraine's presidential election, vanquishing the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko. Most Ukrainians know Zelensky as a fictional TV character on the hit show "Servant of the People," where he plays an ordinary citizen fed up with Ukraine's pay-to-play political system. On the show, Zelensky's character miraculously gets elected president after one of his rants against corrupt politicians goes viral. Now fiction has become fact as Zelensky prepares for a real-life inauguration later this spring. Having run a campaign light on policy specifics, Zelensky is now about to show Ukrainians what kind of leader he will really be. In contrast to his carefully scripted TV persona, Zelensky is not exactly an ordinary citizen. He is, rather, a member of the elite, one who reportedly owns a lavish Italian villa and has close personal ties to at least one of Ukraine's wealthiest – and most controversial – oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoisky, senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement Michael Carpenter wrote in an article for The Washington Post.
"While we don't yet know what sort of president Zelensky will be, it is clear what sort of president Ukrainian citizens want him to be. Opinion polls consistently show Ukrainians want three things from their political leadership. First, they want a statesman who will stand up to Russian aggression and restore Ukraine's sovereignty. Second, they want a reformer who will take a battering ram to the oligarchic system that corrupts Ukraine's politics and economy. Finally, they want someone who will strengthen economic growth, boost wages and create jobs," he said. Those things are easier said than done. Yet if Zelensky truly wants to be a "servant of the people," he at least knows what his strategic priorities ought to be. And his campaign rhetoric seems to reflect an awareness of these priorities. To counter Russia's continuing aggression in Ukraine, Zelensky has called for the United States and the United Kingdom to apply greater leverage on Moscow and get off the sidelines of the diplomatic process, which has been monopolized by France and Germany. To fight corruption, he has called for insulating Ukraine's law enforcement agencies – especially its National Anti-corruption Bureau and nascent anti-corruption courts – from political interference. To boost the economy, he has recognized that investment is key but that it crucially depends on rule of law and respect for property rights. Read also Member of Russia's opposition explains why Ukraine's new president "scares Kremlin" According to the author, if Zelensky is to succeed with an agenda that matches this campaign rhetoric, he will need both domestic and international support. Domestically, he will need a parliament and civil society willing to back reforms. While the current parliament will likely be too fragmented and gridlocked to get much done, parliamentary elections this October offer a near-term opportunity to bring in a strong bloc of reformers. Ukrainian civil society is already a staunch advocate of reforms and will be a key ally if Zelensky chooses to engage it.
Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/10529355-washington-post-enough-ukraine-fatigue-the-new-president-will-need-our-help.html

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Zelenskiy wins second round of Ukraine's presidential election – exit poll


April 21, 2019 (The Guardian) Petro Poroshenko has conceded defeat in Ukraine’s presidential election as exit polls suggested an overwhelming victory for Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian who has no political experience other than playing the role of president in a TV series. “I’m leaving office, but I want to make it clear that I’m not leaving politics,” said Poroshenko, after acknowledging his failure to win a second term on Sunday.

Petro Poroshenko concedes defeat in Ukraine’s presidential election as his wife, Maryna, looks on. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Zelenskiy appeared in front of a crowd of journalists at his campaign headquarters as the polls closed, and flashed an impish grin as he pushed his way on to the stage, while the theme tune to his television show played.v “We did it together,” he said, thanking his wife, parents and campaign team. “Thanks to all the Ukrainian citizens who voted for me, and to all who didn’t. I promise I won’t mess up.”

Volodymyr Zelenskiy greets supporters at his headquarters in Kyiv after the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

The poll suggested the 41-year-old Zelenskiy had won the presidential runoff with 73.2% of the vote against Poroshenko’s 25.3%. Official results were due to come in gradually throughout Sunday night, but the exit poll showed a humiliating defeat for Poroshenko, and was in line with a series of polls over past weeks that have suggested Zelenskiy would win the runoff with ease.


Ukraine Starts Voting In 2nd Round Of Presidential Election


April 21, 2019 (Ukrainian News) On Sunday, April 21, at 08:00 a.m., voting in the second round of presidential election started in Ukraine. Voting will last until 08:00 p.m., Ukrainian News Agency reports. 30.3 million citizens will be able to vote, including almost 0.5 million Ukrainians abroad. Two candidates were included on the ballot: Volodymyr Zelenskyi (head of the Kvartal 95 studio) and Petro Poroshenko (incumbent President). The one who gets more votes than the competitor wins.

The voting results are calculated on the number of valid ballots, respectively, ballots without marks, with several marks or intentionally spoiled will not affect the outcome of the election. If the voter makes a mistake when filling out the ballot, he is allowed to ask the commission to exchange it for a new one, but not more than once. The Central Election Commission is obliged to establish the election results not later than May 1. The inauguration of the President-elect must take place not later than May 31. He will officially take up his duties when, at a solemn meeting of the Verkhovna Rada, he will take an oath to the Ukrainian people. As Ukrainian News Agency earlier reported, the parliamentary election is scheduled for October 27.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ukraine presidential rivals trade barbs in stadium debate


April 19, 2019 (BBC News Europe) Ukraine's rival presidential candidates have held a long-awaited head-to-head televised debate at Kiev's giant Olympic stadium. Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky and incumbent president Petro Poroshenko shook hands before launching scathing attacks on one another. Mr Zelensky is the clear favourite for Sunday's second-round vote, polls say. But Mr Poroshenko argues that he is a political novice unfit for such a demanding job. Mr Zelensky has relied on a slick social media campaign to tap into the frustration of many younger Ukrainians with establishment politicians, cronyism and corruption.
The debate in the capital's 70,000-seat stadium - where Mr Poroshenko's supporters appeared to outnumber Mr Zelensky's - was the first and only direct clash between the two rivals in the campaign. The stadium had been divided into two halves for the debate, with a stage for each candidate to speak from at each end of the pitch - but Mr Poroshenko and Mr Zelensky ended up speaking on the same stage.
"I am not a politician," said Mr Zelensky, who spoke first. "I am just a simple person who has come to break down this system." Addressing Mr Poroshenko, he said: "I am the result of your mistakes and promises." Mr Poroshenko responded by accusing his rival of avoiding active-duty military service and said he would not be able to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Zelensky is a dollar millionaire, thanks to his popular comedy series and other acting roles, while Mr Poroshenko is a billionaire who got rich through confectionery and TV businesses.
Mr Zelensky's links to billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky - a leading opponent of Mr Poroshenko - have led some to question the comedian's credibility as a true "outsider" candidate.
Mr Poroshenko took power in a 2014 election following an uprising that overthrew the previous pro-Russian government. His supporters credit him with bolstering the army, making Ukraine's orthodox church independent of Russia and securing visa-free travel to Europe. However concerns over corruption remain.

Kremlin to watch Zelenskyi, Poroshenko presidential debates


April 19, 2019 (censor.net.ua) Spokesperson of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov does not know whether Vladimir Putin is going to watch the debates of the candidate for the presidency in Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelenskyi on April 19. However, Peskov intends to watch them.

"As far as I know, tomorrow 7 p.m. (the time of the beginning of the debates of the candidates for the Ukrainian presidency) will be 8 p.m. here. I cannot say whether President of Russia Vladimir Putin will watch the broadcasting of the debates. I am going to figure out, where it is possible to watch them. it should be an interesting show," Peskov said. On April 3, Zelenskyi replied to Poroshenko's invitation to participate in debates and put forward his conditions. He wanted to hold debates at Olympiiskyi Stadium. Poroshenko’s team said, "the President does not perform at stadiums". A few hours later Poroshenko changed his mind and agreed to participate in the debates.
On April 7, Poroshenko stated that he waits for Volodymyr Zelenskyi on April 14 at Olympiiskyi Stadium. Zelenskyi stated he wanted to hold the debates with Poroshenko on April 19 at Olympiiskyi Stadium. On April 10, Olympiiskyi Stadium reported that it got two applications for holding debates from two presidential candidates Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Petro Poroshenko.

National Sport Complex (NSC) Olimpiyskiy preparing to political debates between Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky. Facebook Ihor Zhdanov

Presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskyi reported that free tickets for the fan zone at NSC Olimpiysky stadium are now available. Thus, some viewers will be able to watch the debates between Zelenskyi and the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko on the stadium for free. The debates are to take place on Friday, April 19. Later it was reported that Olympiyskiy NSC will not sell tickets for the debates of the presidential candidates Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Petro Poroshenko.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Presidential election in Ukraine: Five reasons Zelenskiy is likely to win the second ballot

April 17, 2019 (neweasterneurope.eu) There is less than a week left until the next and decisive second round of elections which will determine the future president of Ukraine. However, the already available results of the first round of voting, as well as some additional sociological data, give a good reason to assume that the winner of the first ballot – Volodymyr Zelenskiy – will be able to confirm the winning result also in the second round.
Mobile ballot box in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections 

There are at least 5 key reasons which could provide for the respective result of the presidential election in Ukraine.
Firstly, the margin of victory of the first-round winner Volodymyr Zelenskiy (30.24 per cent) over his rival Petro Poroshenko (15.95 per cent) is quite noticeable – more than 14 per cent – and can hardly be bridged in the remaining few days before the final voting on April 21st. A comparable gap between the two main contenders of the first round happened only during the presidential elections in Ukraine of 1999, when then-incumbent President Leonid Kuchma confidently defeated the leader of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko, both in the first and in the second round. The only case in the contemporary history of Ukraine, when the second-placed candidate of the first round was able to win the presidency during the final vote, was the election of 1994. But the margin of victory in the first round during that election was only half of what it is now between Zelenskiy and Poroshenko.
Secondly, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to the pre-election opinion polls, was consistently in the lead in the rating of the “second choice” candidates for Ukrainian voters. Some 8.1 per cent of respondents claimed that they would support his candidacy, if their preferred candidate (“first choice”) does not partake in the election. At the same time, the candidacy of Petro Poroshenko would be preferred as a “second choice” by no more than 3 per cent.
Thirdly, the very logic of Ukrainians’ voting in the second round rather “against” a certain candidate than “for” somebody might play in favor of the candidate Zelenskiy. This logic, also known as the principle of voting for the “lesser evil”, can by itself mobilise quite many voters against a candidate with high disapproval-ratings to prevent him from winning the presidential election. In this paradigm of electoral behavior, the incumbent President Poroshenko has a clearly losing position. The latter, as the most recent opinion polls show, is among the politicians with the highest level of public distrust (69 per cent do not trust him). Besides, virtually half of voters in Ukraine (49.6 per cent) will under no circumstances vote for him, which also significantly limits the potential for him to expand his support base. On the contrary, at least some 43 per cent of Ukrainians claim to trustcandidate Zelenskiy and only 13.3 per cent of voters are definitely not ready to vote for him.
Fourthly, the candidate Zelenskiy has a significantly more uniform geography of electoral support. If Poroshenko managed to come first only in two regions (oblasts) of Western Ukraine (Lviv and Ternopil oblasts), Zelensky gained majority of votes in almost all major macro-regions of Ukraine, with the exception of the regions of Donbas (where he came second) and Halychyna. With such a comprehensive geography of electoral support, Zelensky’s position seems to be much closer to Ukraine’s “middle voter” than that of his rival Poroshenko. It is precisely the proximity of the politician to the “middle voter” position that can predetermine the possibility of obtaining a majority vote during the elections.
Last but not least, the  above mentioned arguments are well reinforced by the results of the latest post-election public opinion poll which clearly shows the continuing and even somewhat increasing lead of the candidate Zelenskiy over his main contender Petro Poroshenko. 71,4 per cent of the respondents (who are planning to attend election on April 21 and decided upon their choice), according to the poll, will support Zelenskiy while Poroshenko is supported by only 28.6 per cent of voters respectively.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ukraine presidential favorite Zelensky skips live TV debate – but it doesn’t matter, experts say


April 16, 2019 (CNBC) The favorite to win Ukraine’s presidential election this weekend caused a stir on Sunday by skipping a live televised debate with incumbent Petro Poroshenko – but even that isn’t expect to damage his chances of winning the upcoming final round of voting.
Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and actor and the favorite to win a run-off round in the election this coming Sunday, had agreed to face the more seasoned politician and incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in a televised debate from Kiev’s Olympic Stadium but the pair had disagreed on a date.
That left Poroshenko to speak on his own for 45 minutes while standing next to an empty lectern for his political opponent. Zelensky had not said that he was going to attend the debate, instead agreeing to attend a televised debate on Friday, April 21.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds a news conference at Olympiskiy Stadium on April 14, 2019 in Kiev, Ukraine. Zelensky, a television comedian making his first run for political office, challenged President Poroshenko to a debate at the stadium ahead of the April 21 vote, but due to a disagreement over dates, Zelensky did not show up to the event organized by Poroshenko. Brendan Hoffman | Getty Images News | Getty Images

It’s not the first bizarre episode in an election race that has enlivened Ukrainians who appear to have tired of the country’s old political guard. Zelensky accepted Poroshenko’s invitation to hold debates with three conditions, one of them being that both candidates take live drug and alcohol tests to, as Zelenksy put it, “show the Ukrainian people that neither is an alcoholic or drug addict.” Experts say Zelenksy’s “no-show” has not affected the likelihood that he will become president at a final run-off vote next on April 21.
“I still cannot see Poroshenko winning - he (Zelensky) is just too far ahead,” Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, told CNBC on Monday. “Poroshenko’s negative ratings are just too high. He lost this election months ago,” Ash added.
Unsurprisingly, Poroshenko used his uninterrupted platform on Sunday to criticize an absent Zelensky and his apparent lack of concrete manifesto. “If he hides from people again, if he is afraid, we will invite him again. We will invite him every day to every live show for the whole country to see who it is going to elect for the next five years,” Poroshenko told the audience Sunday, according to news reports.

Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky seen talking to the media during his visit to the medical center for a test. On April 3, 2019 presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy declared his readiness to go to the debate before the second round of presidential elections with Ukrainian President and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko, however, he voiced a number of conditions, in particular, the debate should be held at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev, and candidates must pass a test for alcohol and drugs. SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Preliminary Results Suggest Zelenskiy Wins First Round of Ukraine Presidential Election

April 3, 1019 (HROMADSKE UA) Showman Volodymyr Zelenskiy rushes into the second round of the presidential election with a comfortable 13.66% lead over the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko. Thus exit polls turned out to be accurate in predicting the final standings. Similarly, most pre-election polls were not far off the mark. As of 09:10 am April 1, 54.70% of the ballots have been processed with 30.23% of the voters supporting Zelenskiy and 16.57% giving preference to the current president Poroshenko. Third place was expectedly taken by the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Batkivshchyna party leader received 13.10% of the votes. 
This year’s election witnessed a relatively high turnout of 63.49%. By comparison, in 2014, 60.29% of the eligible voters made it to the polling stations to fulfill their civic responsibilities. The highest turnout was in the western regions of Lviv and Volyn, whilst Zakarpattya region was the least active. Poroshenko expressed a desire to participate in a debate with his opponent before the second round, which is scheduled for April 21. Zelenskiy accepted the offer. Zelenskiy played up to his reputation by incorporating several quips about his rival Poroshenko in his speech after the exit poll results were announced. To find out more about how things unfolded on the day, take a look at our election day coverage. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry registered hundreds of cases of election violations with the greatest number allegedly happening in Kyiv, the Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk regions. The Central Election Commission (CEC) says no systemic violations were found. Final results are expected in the near future, although, by law, CEC has until April 10 to announce the outcome.

Tennessee Guardsmen visit local Ukrainian orphanage for children with special needs


April 3, 2019 (www.army.mil) Ukraine-U.S. Troops, along with Lithuanian Soldiers visited the local orphanage for children with special needs as part of an ongoing humanitarian support project and celebrated International Women’s Day, here, Mar. 4. The visit included performances from the children, gift exchanges, outdoor games, and a traditional Ukrainian lunch.
It is always nice of you to visit and spend some time with you guys because spending time with our American family is always a precious time,” said the orphanage director, Natalia Frankiv. The Soldiers and children interacted through outdoor games such as tug-o-war, relay races, and soccer.
Later, they toured the orphanage's newly renovated agricultural program, which is an ongoing charity funded project.  Natalia Frankiv plans to incorporate a program which teaches the children the basics of farming and agriculture. This program is intended to prepare children for future job opportunities.

 After the tour, Tennessee Guardsmen, Maj. Terry Bell thanked Frankiv and highlighted the importance of International Women’s Day and the tremendous accomplishments of women in everyday life. “Whatever it is you are doing, whether it be leading in the workforce or leading at home with your families, we love you and appreciate everything you do,” stated Bell. This is the first time Lithuanian Soldiers, who are deployed in Ukraine, joined in visiting this orphanage, and the Soldiers plan to return later this month to view the progress of the agricultural program. The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is currently deployed in Ukraine supporting the development and modernization of the Yavoriv Combat Training Center.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

General Hodges: If West does nothing with annexation of Crimea, Odesa may be next


March 30, 2019 (Ukrinform) Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former commanding general of the United States Army Europe, made a corresponding statement at the conference in Prague dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the membership of the Czech Republic and other Visegrad Four countries in NATO, the Czech news channel STK reports. “If we are not fully united, it will immediately induce them [Russians] to resort to aggression,” the General said, adding that Moscow would use any “cracks” in the Alliance.

Hodges is convinced that NATO needs to build up capacities in the Black Sea region. "It is the area where Russia commits the greatest and strongest acts of aggression. If the West does nothing with the annexation of Crimea, it is quite possible that Odessa and, probably, Romania will be occupied next," he said. According to Hodges, the Alliance must clearly understand the threats it faces in order to continue to be successful. In this context, the General noted that terrorism is “dreadful”, but NATO must also counter potential threats posed by Russia and China.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Ukraine ranks 40th in 2019 Henley Passport Index

March 29, 2019 (UNIAN) Henley & Partners has published the latest 2019 Passport Index, which ranks the countries in terms of visa-free travel, according to which Ukraine is 40th among all countries in the world. According to the report, Ukraine shares the 40th line with Nicaragua and Tuvalu with visa-free travel to 128 countries. 

Vanuatu ranks 39th with visa-free travel to 129 countries. Japan, Singapore and South Korea top the list with visa-free travel to 189 countries. The second place is occupied by Germany, whose citizens may visit 188 countries without a visa or with a visa upon arrival. Denmark, Finland, France, Italy and Sweden rank 3rd, followed by Luxembourg and Spain (both 4th), and Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (all 5th). Afghanistan and Iraq are at the ranking's bottom (104th) with its nationals allowed visa-free travel to only 30 countries.

Russia to Bolster Flanks With New Military Units in 2019


March 29, 2019 (www.themoscowtimes.com) Russia will reinforce its western, eastern and southern flanks this year in response to increased Western military exercises near its border, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Wednesday. Moscow has bolstered its military capabilities since its relations with the United States and the NATO military alliance deteriorated over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.


Speaking at a Defense Ministry board meeting, Shoigu said Russia’s move to bolster its flanks comes in reaction to NATO forces “more than doubling the scope and intensity of [their] exercises” near Russian borders. Shoigu announced plans to create one new division and four new regiments in western Russia in 2019, the ministry’s Zvezda news channel reported. The newly deployed troops there will receive weapons and special equipment as part of Russia’s state armament program, he added. The south will be reinforced with a new division for coastal missile defense, two regiments and a missile brigade, the defense minister said. Another missile brigade and a mixed aviation division will be formed in Russia’s eastern military district, Shoigu said.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A new life of the Poltava airport


March 28, 2019 (LB.ua) The first charter flight on the route Poltava - Sharm el-Sheikh was made by the new Ukrainian company SkyUp Airlines. The Boeing 737-700 with 149 passengers departed on March 26 at 13:10. Local authorities suggest that charter flights from Poltava will soon become regular. The first flight to Turkish Anatolia is scheduled for May 2.

Airport "Poltava" was built in the 50-60s of the twentieth century. The new passenger terminal was built in 1985. The airport is located 7 km south-west of Poltava, near the Kiev-Kharkov highway. The airport has a runway with a length of 2550 m and a width of 42 m, equipped with a light signaling system for landing aircraft. Poltava airport renewed its activity in 2018. 

Not long ago Poltava airport received international status and began to serve tourist charter flights.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Central Election Commission: 2,344 international observers to monitor presidential elections in Ukraine


March 26, 2019 (UKRINFORM) The Central Election Commission (CEC) has registered 324 more official observers from foreign countries for the presidential election in Ukraine scheduled for March 31, 2019.
The relevant decision was approved at the commission´s meeting on Monday evening, an Ukrinform correspondent reported. In particular, the Commission registered one observer from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, one from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, one from Switzerland, one from France, 129 from the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), 13 from the European Parliament, three from the Kingdom of Norway, 32 from the international organization Silba - Initiative for Dialogue and Democracy, three from Slovakia, 76 from the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, 38 from the International Republican Institute (IRI), six from the European Platform for Democratic Elections, 20 from the Committee for Open Democracy.

Thus, on March 25, the Central Election Commission completed the registration of official international observers for the presidential election in Ukraine. A total of 2,344 official observers from 19 international organizations and 17 foreign countries were registered.
As reported, the presidential election campaign started on December 31, 2018. On February 8, the CEC completed the process of registration for the post of head of state in Ukraine's presidential election. A total of 44 presidential candidates were registered. Five candidates later withdrew from the presidential race.

Monday, March 25, 2019

U.S. Ambassador urges Ukrainians to vote in presidential election

March 25, 2019 (UNIAN) U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has urged Ukrainian citizens to cast their ballots on election day a week from today. "If you haven't already made a plan to vote in the Ukrainian presidential elections, I urge you to do so," Yovanovitch said in a video address posted on the embassy website Sunday.

 "Democracy only works with the active participation of its citizens. And elections are how we decide who are leaders will be and tell them what we expect them to do," she said. The diplomat recalled that it was President Barack Obama who had appointed her to head the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and, after Donald Trump was elected in 2016, she continued in the position to "promote and carry out the policies" of the new president and his administration. "This is one of the marks of a true democracy. After the elections, whether an incumbent is re-elected or a new president comes to office, citizens come together and reaffirm their support for the nation and for the will of the voters," Yovanovitch said.
Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/10490580-u-s-ambassador-urges-ukrainians-to-vote-in-presidential-election-video.html