Thursday, August 22, 2019

Kremlin comments on possible Putin-Zelensky meeting, Normandy format summit

August 22, 2019 (UNIAN) Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said there are no specific plans so far for a new Normandy format meeting and a possible date for contacts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. 

 "No, there is no date yet," he said when asked about preparations for new Normandy talks, according to Russian news agency TASS.  Speaking about the dates for a possible meeting between Putin and Zelensky, Peskov said: "So far, there are no specific plans for a possible meeting with Mr. Zelensky." The Kremlin spokesman said there were "more questions than answers" regarding possible negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents. "Work is in progress. We will inform you when there are specific agreements," he said.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"River tram" service re-launched in Kyiv

August 19, 2019 (UNIAN) A new Kyiv "river tram" route has been launched along the Dnipro River between the city's Podil and Obolon areas. The route was officially launched on August 10, according to an UNIAN correspondent. Several dozen people have already made their first voyage. 

Kyiv's "river tram" resumed its service after a six-year break, according to the TV news service TSN. It will offer three voyages a day in the form of a city tour, which will be available on the weekend only and will be themed to Kyiv's history.

 "The service has been resumed in a trial mode. If there are people, more routes will open," captain of the vessel Viktor Hrekh said. A two-way ticket for a 90-minute voyage costs UAH 150, or about US$6.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Vladimir Putin joins bikers for a ride in Crimea

August 11, 2019 (Reuters) Russia's President Vladimir Putin attended a biker show organized by the Night Wolves motorcycle club on the peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, amid vast protests in Moscow and several Russian cities on Saturday (August 10). Russian state television showed Putin in a leather jacket shaking hands and hugging with Russian biker club leader Alexander Zaldostanov and riding a Ural motorcycle near the Crimean city of Sevastopol, while tens of thousands of Russians staged what a monitoring group called the country's biggest political protest for eight years, defying a crackdown to demand free elections to Moscow's city legislature.

Police rounded up scores of people after the demonstration in Moscow and at another rally in St Petersburg, and detained a leading opposition figure before it began. But the response from the authorities was milder than the previous week when more than 1,000 protesters were detained, sometimes violently. The White Counter monitoring group said up to 60,000 people had attended the Moscow rally, describing it as the biggest in Russia for eight years. Police put turnout at 20,000.

Russian liberal opposition gather for a rally protesting against unfair Moscow State Duma elections in the center of Moscow, Russia, August 10, 2019. The liberal opposition called their supporters to continue their protest actions against rejecting their candidates for Moscow City Duma elections, which are scheduled for September. (Photo: Yuri Kochetkov, EPA-EFE)

A month of demonstrations over elections for the Moscow city legislature have turned into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013, when protesters took to the streets against perceived electoral fraud. Crowds at the rally in Moscow roared "down with the tsar!" and waved Russian flags. They were demanding that opposition-minded candidates be permitted to run in a city election next month after they were not allowed onto the ballot. Putin and the Kremlin have so far avoided commenting on the unrest over the Moscow city elections.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Chernobyl's 'Sarcophagus' Is Being Taken down Due to Fear of Collapse

August 9, 2019 ( The Chernobyl nuclear disaster is the worst power plant disaster in history. Just 2 months after the disaster, roughly 600,000 Soviet cleanup workers were given the deadly task of covering the plant's exposed reactor with a massive 'sarcophagus' encasing. Now, it has emerged that, 33 years later, the sarcophagus has to be dismantled before it collapses. Thankfully, this was known ahead of time and an impressive undertaking in precise engineering is making sure that the existing structure is safely replaced.
The 'sarcophagus' encasing the contaminated site of Chernobyl reactor 4 was made in order to lock in radioactive materials like corium, uranium, and plutonium. It was erected only two months after the disaster occurred on April 26, 1986.

At least 31 of the workers who constructed the encasing died of acute radiation sickness. The danger of the construction zone is partially responsible for the deterioration happening today. Though the covering was made from 400,00 cubic meters of concrete and approximately 16 million pounds of steel, the conditions meant that it was hastily built, leaving the building's joints unsealed, and openings in the ceiling, as Science Alert reports. Now, 33 years later, the covering has to be replaced: SSE Chernobyl NPP, the company that manages the nuclear plant site, has released a statement online saying the probability the structure will collapse is "very high" if it is left in its current state.
Read the full article at

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Time travel to "post-war Poltava"

August 6, 2019 Please do not think that these two photos were found in some archive. In fact, they were made a few days ago in the center of Poltava. The city authorities have not been able to demolish these buildings for several years, because the issue of ownership of this property has not been resolved.

Probably some local inhabitants, whose documents confirm that they live in these dilapidated houses, are still alive. This means that before demolishing these houses, their residents must obtain new housing. All this led to the existence of such “post-war ruins” in Poltava.

When I pass these buildings, it seems to me that the Second World War ended just a few days ago. At the end of this post, I would like to show you a third photo that was found in one of the German archives several years ago. It was made by a German officer in 1942 on one of the streets of Poltava. 

Don't you think that these three photos look alike?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

President Zelensky cancels Independence Day military parade, gives money to soldiers

July 31, 2019 (Kyiv Post) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that he will cancel the country’s tradition of holding a military parade on Independence Day on August 24. Instead, the money will be spent on bonuses to Ukrainian soldiers. In a July 9 video message published on social media, Zelensky termed the traditional parade “grandiose and clearly not inexpensive.” “It seems to me that, this year, instead of a parade it’s better to allocate that money for our heroes,” he said. Zelensky said that the Ukrainian government would spend Hr 300 million ($11.7 million) on bonuses for Ukrainian servicepeople, both those serving in Donbas and those farther from the frontline. Zelensky said that Independence Day celebrations will take place, but in a “new format.” 
Tanks pass by during the military parade on Aug. 24, 2018, marking Ukraine's 27th Independence Day.
Photo by Oleg Petrasiuk

Before his election as the president of Ukraine in April, Zelensky established himself as a television producer of entertainment shows and a comedic actor. The Independence Day military parade has not always been a tradition in Ukraine. It was held for the first time in 1994 under the presidency of Leonid Kuchma. In the following years, parades were held irregularly or without military equipment. When ex-President Viktor Yanukovych came to power, he canceled the parades entirely. 
It was ex-President Petro Poroshenko who turned the Independence Day parade into a massive annual show. After Russia invaded the eastern Donbas region in 2014, the parade took on a new meaning. It became an occasion to showcase the country’s military power, to commemorate soldiers killed in action, to give awards to heroes, and for the president to address the nation with a patriotic speech. Over the past five years, Ukraine’s allies have sent high-level officials to attend the parade and soldiers from allied countries have marched along with Ukrainian servicepeople. Last year’s Independence Day saw a record number of 4,500 troops marching down Kyiv’s central Khreshchatyk Street. For the first time, servicewomen also took part in the parade. 
Around 250 military vehicles drove down the avenue, including Javelin missile system received from the United States earlier that year. However, the cost of the grand military show has always been concealed. In 2014, the last time Ukraine’s defense ministry reported on the parade’s cost, it amounted to Hr 80 million. Zelensky’s announcement comes just days after the United States held a parade featuring military vehicles in Washington, DC to mark American Independence Day. 
That celebration was criticized as a show of military force more common in authoritarian states. On July 2, Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, wrote on Twitter that the sight of tanks being towed into Washington reminded him of “parades I used to attend in the Soviet Union. Not the right look for the 4th.”

Corgi appears as Kyiv guide in city’s new promo video

July31, 2019 (Kyiv Post) For a corgi named Loyd, living in Kyiv isn’t such a dog’s life. Loyd is the star of a promotional video about Kyiv, published on July 29 by the city administration’s tourism department. In the video, Loyd serves as a guide to Kyiv. The naughty, English-speaking corgi escapes his owner to show the viewer around town. “I’m going to show you the best city in the world! Follow me, my long-legged friends,” Loyd says in the narrator’s voice.
A corgi named Loyd is the star of the new promotional video about Kyiv by the city administration’s tourism department.

The corgi leads the viewer through several sights in Kyiv: Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Sofiiska and Poshtova squares, Andriyivsky Descent and the picturesque new pedestrian bridge. At the end of the video, Loyd is picked up by a police officer on an alley of Shevchenko Park and returned to his owner. The city’s tourism office previously published dozens of video guides with human actors but it’s the first time a dog took central stage. It will likely become their most popular video: just four days after uploading, it had 14,000 views on Youtube. Earlier videos with human actors got from 5,000 to 19,000 views.
Loyd also has a Facebook page administered in his name by the owners. There are pictures of Loyd in Kyiv and photographs from the set of his guide video.1