Friday, March 23, 2018

National Bank to replace Hr 1, 2, 5 and 10 banknotes with coins

March 22, 2018 (KyivPost) The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has announced that it will issue new coins worth Hr 1, 2, 5 and 10 by 2020. In a statement published by its press service on March 14, the NBU showed off the designs of the new coins, which will replace the paper bills of the same value that are currently in circulation. The NBU will also stop issuing 1-, 2-, 5- and 25-kopika coins.
The replacement of paper bills with coins will make it possible to achieve the optimum balance between the quality and the number of circulating paper bills and coins, which will meet the needs of the state and the economy today,” Yakiv Smolii, the NBU’s acting head, said in a statement posted on the NBU’s website. The NBU will mint the new coins in two stages: the ones worth Hr 1 and Hr 2 will start to be issued on April 27, while the Hr 5 and Hr 10 coins will start to be issued in 2019 and 2020. The bank will cease producing the paper equivalents of the coins, but they will remain valid tender until they are finally taken out of circulation. The replacement of paper bills with coins is due to the devaluation of the hryvnia and the development of cashless payments. The National Bank of Ukraine introduced the designs of the new Hr 1, 2, 5 and 10 coins.

According to the NBU, over the last five years, the share of cashless payments with cards in Ukraine has increased by more than three times. In 2018, 39 percent of payments were made with cards. Ukraine will be able to save around Hr 1 billion due to the measure, as paper bills wear out faster than coins. The NBU removes from circulation 800 million worn out paper bills every year, with 40 percent of them being bills of low denominations, Smolii said.
The new silver-color coins will be from 18 to 23 millimeters in diameter. Framed with an ancient Kyivan Rus ornament, a new coin’s obverse will feature Ukraine’s small coat of arms and the coin’s denomination. The coins’ reverses will feature portraits of the prominent figures in Ukrainian history, as currently depicted on the paper bills of the same value: Kyivan Rus Princes Volodymyr the Great and Yaroslav the Wise, Ukrainian Hetmans Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Ivan Mazepa. 
As with the low denomination paper bills, the withdrawn 1-, 2-, 5-, and 25-kopika coins will be legal tender until they are fully removed from circulation. Because there will no longer be 1-, 2-, 5-, and 25-kopika coins, the NBU has set rounding rules for cash payments: a sum that ends in 1-4 kopikas is rounded down to the nearest 10 kopikas, and a sum ending with 5-9 kopikas is rounded up to the nearest 10 kopikas. The rules will come into force on July 1. However, those who still have low denomination kopika coins will be able to pay exact sums, without rounding.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

EU doesn't recognize Russian presidential elections in occupied Crimea

March21, 2018 (UNIAN) The European Union does not recognize the illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea by Russia, therefore it does not recognize the Russian presidential elections in the peninsula. "The European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and therefore does not recognise the holding of elections in the Crimean peninsula," the EU spokesperson said in a statement on March 19 on the presidential elections in the Russian Federation, held on March 18.

"The OSCE/ODIHR observers did not conduct any activities in these illegally-annexed territories, participation of EU Member States' diplomats in observation activities within the framework of the OSCE/ODIHR EOM [Election Observation Mission] was also limited to the recognised territory of the Russian Federation. The EU remains unwavering in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," the statement said. According to the preliminary findings of the internationally-recognised OSCE/ODIHR EOM, the elections were conducted in an overly controlled legal and political environment, marked by continued pressure on critical voices. The OSCE/ODIHR EOM recorded restrictions on freedoms of assembly, association and expression, as well as on candidate registration, which limited the space for political engagement, resulting in a lack of genuine competition.
As also noted by the observers, extensive and uncritical coverage of the incumbent by the media resulted in an uneven playing field, efforts to increase the turnout predominated over the campaign of the contestants, and a number of activists who questioned the legitimacy of the elections were detained. Overall, the OSCE/ODIHR EOM recognised that elections were administered efficiently and openly by the Central Electoral Commission and, on the day, conducted in an orderly manner despite shortcomings related to vote secrecy and transparency of counting. During the recent elections, the incumbent Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has been elected for the fourth six-year term.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Russian plane loses almost nine tonnes of gold amid incident in Yakutsk

March 17, 2018 (UNIAN) A Russian An-12 transport plane, which was loaded with nine tonnes of gold, lost most of its freight on March 15 in an aviation incident, which was close to a plane crash. The gold is being collected on the runway and in the nearby areas of the Yakutsk airfield in east Siberia, Russia, the Telegram Channel Mash said. Immediately after the plane took off, its left back door fell off. Several parts of the aircraft fuselage have already been found on the ground. The search for the gold is still under way across the entire surrounding area in the vicinity of the Yakutsk airfield. Some 172 gold bars have already been found. Each of them weighs 20 kg. The press service of Yakutsk Airport said in an official statement on the incident that the plane belongs to Nimbus Airlines. According to the statement, the plane successfully landed at Magan Airport in the village of Magan, a few kilometers at the west of Yakutsk. An investigation into the incident is under way.

Friday, March 16, 2018

World Cup 2018: Ministers & Royal Family will not go to Russia

March 16, 2018 (ChronicleLive) UK government ministers and members of the Royal Family will not attend the World Cup in Russia after a Russian-made nerve agent was used on an ex-spy. Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, are in a critical condition after the incident in Salisbury on 4 March. Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that the relationship between the two countries "cannot be the same". Buckingham Palace said "no plans had been made" for any of the Royal Family to travel for the World Cup in Russia. Prince William is the president of the Football Association (FA).
When asked whether senior FA officials should also not go to the World Cup - which runs from 14 June to 15 July - Mrs May said: "I'm sure they will want to be considering their position. "Attendance at sporting events is a matter for the sporting authorities - it's a matter for them." In a statement, the FA said it will "continue to work closely with the UK government and relevant authorities".
"Our priority for all England matches is to ensure the safety and security of the fans, players and staff. As is standard practice, we will take all travel guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office," it added. On Wednesday, the Foreign Office updated its advice for those visiting Russia. It said UK nationals in the country should be "aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment" due to "heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia". It said the British Embassy in Moscow was "not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time" but recommended UK nationals "remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publically on political developments".
Mrs May, speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, said the government would "look at security and protection of any UK football fans travelling to the World Cup". She also announced the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats and revoke an invitation to the Russian foreign minister to visit the country. Russia denies being involved in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal.

Tensions between the UK and Russia are running high over the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, and Yulia Skripal, 33, were found on March 4 slumped on a bench near a shopping centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and taken to hospital. A police officer who fell ill after attending the incident - Det Sgt Nick Bailey - was also taken to hospital. According to Prime Minister Theresa May , the nerve agent which poisoned them was one of a group of poisons called Novichok, which were developed by Russia. Mr Skripal is a former Russian spy and double agent. He served in the Soviet military, part of an elite airborne troop known as the Desantniki, and was among the first to enter Afghanistan during the invasion of 1979. Mrs May believes it was “highly likely” the Russian state was responsible for the attacks. And following Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mrs May again laid into Russia and expelled 23 diplomats in the largest mass expulsion of diplomats since the Cold War. She announced the suspension of high-level contacts with Russia, including a boycott of this summer’s World Cup by Government ministers and members of the royal family.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sweden and Canada allocate $2 million for restoration of Donbas

March 15, 2018 (UAWIRE) The governments of Canada and Sweden have allocated $2 million for the restoration the Donbas, as reported on the website of the Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine.
"As part of the target fund of many partners, the first $2 million was allocated for the restoration and development of peace in Donbas. The funds were provided by the governments of Canada and Sweden and will be administered by the World Bank in accordance with the priorities defined by the state target program 'Restoration and Development of Peace in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine" the report says.
It is noted that the Target Fund manages the funds of the international donor community, which are directed to support the restoration and development of peace in the Donbas. Grant funds will be used to finance priority projects implemented in pursuance of the state target program ‘Restoration and Development of Peace in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine’, as well as "The Strategy for the Integration of Internally Displaced Persons and the Introduction of Long-Term Decisions on Internal Displacement for the Period until 2020 ".

Last year, Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons launched a portal on projects to restore the Donbas. Local governments are able to contribute to the portal data on their needs, which will allow donors to understand where to send assistance, and later provide the opportunity to report on the use of funds.