Ukraine’s Feminist Shock Troops.
Back in her hometown, Alexandra Shevchenko stood by, uncharacteristically calm, as her mother, Lyudmila, laid out her near-total opposition to her daughter’s life choices, bewilderment over why she is still single at age 25, and especially why she persists with Femen, the activist women’s group famous for guerrilla-style, bare-breasted political protests.
Alexandra, a slinky blonde who goes by Sasha, knows how to fight. Her face, with pouty lips and blue eyes, can morph from winsome to fearsome in the seconds it takes to strip off a T-shirt and pump a fist in the air. It is a move she has perfected, most recently in April at a trade fair in Germany where she charged, half-naked, toward Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, cursing him as a dictator.
Video of that protest shows Sasha topless, with profane slogans painted on her chest and back, nearly reaching Mr. Putin and drawing a leer and two thumbs up from him before a guard wrestled her to the ground. Her mother said she can no longer bear to watch.
“You cannot imagine how worried I am for their lives; I cannot sleep,” Lyudmila Shevchenko said in the small fashion shop that she runs in Khmelnytsky, a quiet regional capital. She particularly dislikes it when the Femen women curse and go topless in cold weather. “It’s probably time to form a party, to run for office, to change methods and try to achieve their goals through legislation, because I am sick and tired of these actions.” Besides, she said: “I want grandchildren.”
Nudity as a tool of activism is hardly new. But the women of Femen have elevated it to an Internet-age art form. Based in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, the group now has chapters in nine countries, on four continents. It calls its tactics “sextremism” and its hundreds of mostly volunteer members “shock troops” — frontline soldiers in a global war against patriarchy, and for women’s rights. Its sworn enemies are dictatorship, organized religion and sexual exploitation.
Femen protests often catch the law enforcement authorities off-guard, and can make officers seem silly, as they struggle to contain partially dressed women squiggling in their grasp. In response to their protests, Femen women have been beaten, jailed and threatened with death.
They have been dragged off all over: at the Vatican where they set off red smoke during the papal conclave to condemn “bloody” church history; at the European Parliament in Brussels where they pushed gay rights; on the Berlin Film Festival’s red carpet where they denounced female circumcision in Africa; in Moscow where they tried to steal Mr. Putin’s ballot on Election Day; at the Davos World Economic Forum where they decried income inequality; in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, where Femen has its second base.
They have called for “topless jihad” and a “women’s spring” against Islam’s treatment of women, and were deported from Turkey where they acted against domestic violence. In Belarus, where they protested the autocracy of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, they were arrested, taken into the woods, stripped and told they would be killed. “Remember the smell of your mothers,” one participant recalled a security agent saying. “How happy you were,” the agent taunted, “before you had the idea to come to Belarus.”
In the most recent action, on Wednesday, three Femen members took off their tops outside the Justice Ministry in Tunis, in support of a Tunisian Femen member, Amina Sboui, also known as Amina Tyler, who had faced death threats after posting a topless picture of herself on the Web. She was later arrested on charges related to carrying a can of pepper spray while preparing to conduct a protest action. On Thursday, she was convicted and fined. She remains in prison as the authorities consider additional charges.
Like all Femen actions, the Tunisia event was carefully choreographed. The three activists, two French citizens and a German, were chosen because they were likely to get the best diplomatic assistance after they were arrested.
Femen’s shock troops can be of any age but tend to be young and attractive; the group’s leaders insist that members come to actions well groomed. The topless protests have been so effective at generating attention that they have obscured Femen’s modest beginnings in 2006 as a feminist club focused on patriarchal traditions in Ukrainian society.
Anna Hutsol, then a student at the Khmelnytsky University for Economics, was outside the city’s registration office, watching young brides and grooms arrive to get married and, for the women, start a life in which decisions once made by fathers would now fall to husbands.
Ms. Hutsol herself had grown up mostly in a tiny village, Nova Ushytsa, a two-hour drive south of Khmelnytsky, where her parents still live. A hotbed of feminism it is not. When Ms. Hutsol arrived there one evening last week with visitors, her mother was milking a cow.
Ms. Hutsol’s mother, Nina, said she believed her daughter was trying to help people, but neighbors did not see it that way. “The village people don’t understand it,” she said. “They say that their behavior is uncultured. They don’t think this is a political activity, but I don’t know how to explain it.”
Neither Nina Hutsol nor Lyudmila Shevchenko recalled their daughters being particularly interested in politics. When Anna Hutsol started lamenting the future of Khmelnytsky’s young women at a meeting of the local Center of Youth Prospects, and argued for creating a separate women’s group, Sasha Shevchenko, an 18-year-old in the audience, was alarmed.
“I was really stupid,” she said, recalling that first meeting. “I am just a normal Ukrainian girl. I didn’t even know what feminist meant. I thought a feminist was an ugly woman with a mustache. She is lesbian and she hates men. If you ask girls on the street about feminism, they will tell you the same story.”
As conversation unfolded among about 20 women, the need to fight for rights became clear. Some told of abusive fathers or boyfriends, or mothers who supported families while their husbands were home drunk. And then there was the pervasive prostitution and sex trafficking of post-Communist Ukraine.
Oksana Shachko knew some issues firsthand. Her mother, an orphan who longed for a family, had married, at 18, a man who turned out to be an alcoholic. She quickly had two children — locking her into circumstances shared by many Ukrainian women.
Together, Ms. Hutsol, Ms. Shevchenko and Ms. Shachko set up a feminist club, the New Ethics committee. They wore pink, and held marches, fully clothed. After minor success drawing attention to two women who suffered medical malpractice at a local hospital, they realized they were being ignored.
So in 2008 they moved to Kiev, , where after impassioned debate, they eventually made the decision to take off their clothes to draw more attention, and renamed themselves Femen. They were joined by Inna Shevchenko (no relation to Sasha) who has since left Ukraine because of criminal charges pending from an action in which she sawed down a large crucifix with a chain saw. she wore goggles but not top.
In an interview before she left, Inna Shevchenko recalled the attempt to focus on sexual exploitation. “We were trying to say the truth,” she said. “But no one was interested in it, and we understood that this society, this country, is not ready to listen to women. But everyone wants to look at them, especially if they are naked,” she added. “We understood O.K., if we are not able to talk, we will show.”
“With our protests, we created a new understanding of our nakedness,” she continued. “We said to the world, now, it can be my hands, controlling by me. It’s not anymore in man’s hands.”
Not everyone understands, or agrees. Some critics have accused them of contributing to the same objectification of women’s bodies that they claim to protest, and that their feminist ideology is fuzzy. Others say they are imposing their brand of radical feminism on women in the Middle East and Africa — in cultures where a more subtle approach would be more effective and safer.
In Khmelnytsky, Sasha Shevchenko heard her elementary school principal, Nadezhda M. Orlovskaya, explain why a graduate serving in the army deserved a photo in the school lobby but its most famous alumna did not. Ms. Orlovskaya praised her former pupil for trying to help women but criticized Femen’s tactics and disputed the group’s portrayal of women in Ukraine as oppressed. “What I don’t like is that you show up in public naked, barefoot, etc.,” she said. Adopting a mocking tone, she puffed out her bosom. “I still have something to boast of, too.”
Ms. Orlovskaya and even Lyudmila Shevchenko said they believed that Femen was backed by secret big-money interests, a charge for which there is no obvious evidence. The women say the group is financed by selling Femen souvenirs and by private donations.
Sasha Shevchenko did not argue with Ms. Orlovskaya, and seemed intent on focusing on Femen’s declared enemies, not on critics. She said it may take a revolution, perhaps with some bloodshed, to improve the lives of women oppressed by Islam or by dictators, or who are pressured into prostitution. And to train a new generation.
“I decided for myself to be a woman, to be a girl who will open eyes for other women, for other girls,” she said. “Because I know myself — Ukrainian girls are stupid. We don’t have sexual education in schools. In universities, we don’t have feminist education. We don’t know even what feminism is.”
What Serb refugees stand to lose from Croatia’s EU entry
About 45,000 refugees from Croatia who now live in Serbia will become citizens of the European Union on July 1 when Croatia joins the bloc, but not many of them expect that to change their lives for the better, the Belgrade-based newspaper Vecernje Novosti said on Sunday.
Citing the Serbian Commission on Refugees, the newspaper says that all families from Croatia who have refugee status in Serbia will be entitled to the same rights as all other citizens of Croatia, but will also lose some.
“The new Residence Act which has been passed by Croatia says that refugees will no longer be allowed to have ID cards of both countries, but will have to choose. On the other hand, they will be allowed to keep their dual citizenship and with it their passports,” Commission official Jelena Maric explained.
Maric expects that most refugees will opt for their ID card issued in Serbia “because it is much more useful to them”, while the forfeiture of the Croatian ID card would mean “they will no longer be allowed to vote in local elections, but only in parliamentary and presidential elections.”
“I have both a Croatian passport and a Croatian citizenship certificate, but what use are they to me? There’s no better life for us anywhere,” a refugee from Knin, who identified himself as Gojko S., told Vecernje Novosti. He said he had fled Croatia during a Croatian military offensive known as Operation Storm in the summer of 1995 and taken up residence in a Belgrade suburb. “I left everything behind in Krajina, and all these years I have felt the same — that I don’t belong anywhere,” he added.
Maric says that most of about 350,000 ethnic Serbs who fled to Serbia during the war in Croatia in the 1990s have obtained dual citizenship and most of them have stayed in Serbia, while only some have returned to Croatia or moved away elsewhere.
Of the previous 700 refugee accommodation centres in Serbia with about 60,000 tenants, only 29 such camps still exist, providing accommodation to about 2,400 people, including 450 refugees from Croatia. Serbia plans to close down all refugee centres over the next three years and ensure permanent accommodation for all their tenants. The other refugees from Croatia should be provided with housing over the next five years.
“We can only hope that with its entry into the EU Croatia will start to treat all its citizens in the same way, regardless of where they live, and that, for a start, it will address the issue of tenancy rights as one of the priorities,” Maric said.
The head of the coalition of refugee associations and parliamentary deputy of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, Miodrag Linta, said that Croatia’s accession to the EU “will not in itself resolve the numerous problems of Serb refugees and displaced persons.”
“The key precondition for a fair and lasting solution to our problems is the active role of the Serbian government,” Linta told Vecernje Novosti, urging the chairman of the Serbian National Assembly, Nebojsa Stefanovic, to call a special session as soon as possible to pass a resolution on the human rights of Serb refugees from Croatia. “Only with such backing can we press European Croatia,” Linta said, citing as key problems exhumations and identification of missing persons from the war, property-related issues, housing reconstruction, unpaid pensions and hard currency savings.
Vecernje Novosti says that according to the 1991 census Croatia had 4,784,265 inhabitants, of whom 581,663 or 12.2% identified themselves as Serbs, while the 2001 census showed that Serbs accounted for 4.54% of the 4,437,460 inhabitants of Croatia, about 380,000 fewer than in 1991.
Croatian tourism minister travels to Russia and Ukraine.
Croatian Tourism Minister Darko Lorencin will be in Russia and Ukraine on June 4-5 to meet with leading tour operators that organise trips to Croatia for talks on the current situation on the market and the new visa regime for non-EU countries which Croatia applies as of April 1, the ministry announced on Monday.
The meeting with Russian tour operators will be held in Moscow on Tuesday while the meeting with Ukrainian tour operators is scheduled for Wednesday. The Croatian minister will be accompanied by the Director of the Head Office of the Croatian Tourist Board, Meri Matesic, and the Chief of Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Vinko Ljubicic.
The meetings will be a chance for Minister Lorencin to hear first hand how to simplify and speed up visa issuance procedures for Russian and Ukrainian tourists who wish to visit Croatia.
Ahead of its accession to the European Union on July 1, Croatia has adopted the EU visa regime under which all citizens of non-EU countries require a visa when travelling to the EU. This includes Russia, Ukraine and Turkey from which Croatia has seen a rise in the number of tourists in recent years.
Hungarian and Ukrainian pension funds recorded an increase in voluntary pension contributions, while in Estonia willingness to make extra savings seems to have waned.
According to Hungarian pension fund association Stabilitas, voluntary pension funds increased their assets by around 14% year on year to HUF866bn (€3bn), as of the end of March.
The Hungarian second pillar, on the other hand, is still losing money after assets were effectively nationalised last year.
Assets in private pension funds fell by around 20% year on year to HUF183bn at the end of the first quarter.
In the Ukraine, the number of people voluntarily contributing to the supplementary pension system has now reached the 10,000 mark, according to Valentyna Nykytenko, deputy head of the pension fund board.
In October 2011, a new law had come into effect introducing a mandatory second pillar to the system, with assets going into an ‘accumulation fund’, while in April the law on voluntary contributions was amended.
Ukrainians living abroad can now also pay into the pension funds to increase savings for their retirement.
Meanwhile, figures revealed by the Estonian tax board show contributions to the third pillar continued to fall for the fourth year in a row.
Annual voluntary contributions dropped by around €1m to €29m year on year.
Analysts put this down to a cap on reclaimable contributions introduced by the government in the wake of the financial crisis.
The Estonian government drew fire in 2011 for a new investment law for second-pillar funds.
Meanwhile, the Latvian government is under increasing pressure to resume pension indexing from October.
The indexation of first-pillar state pensions had been halted in the wake of the financial crisis and might continue, as some state-owned companies are still facing financial trouble.
However, last year, the government felt the budget was strong enough to increase contributions to the second pillar.
Memo with CU not contradicts Ukraine’s European integration, Yanukovych assures Barroso
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych assured President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso that new agreements with the Customs Union do not contradict the conditions of Ukraine’s membership of the WTO.
Telephone conversation between Yanukovych and Barroso was held on May 31, the President’s press service reported.
Viktor Yanukovych informed Jose Manuel Barroso about the signed agreements on deepening of cooperation between Ukraine and the Eurasian Economic Commission.
“He assured that this new model of cooperation between Ukraine and the Eurasian Economic Union does not contradict Ukraine’s membership in the WTO and its strategic course towards European integration through the signing of the Association Agreement and creation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area with the EU,” the statement reads.
The message reads that President of the European Commission thanked the Ukrainian President for the explanations provided.
The presidents also discussed the prospects for signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November 2013 and Ukraine’s progress in meeting the relevant criteria.
The two parties agreed to maintain an active and open dialogue on all issues of mutual interest.
Qatar interested in Ukraine’s experience in organizing and hosting Euro 2012.
Doha – The official delegations of Ukraine and Qatar held a working meeting in Doha on Tuesday, during which they discussed bilateral economic cooperation.
An Interfax-Ukraine reporter said that the Ukrainian delegation had been represented by Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko, Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boiko, Defense Minister Dmytro Salamatin and businessmen Victor Pinchuk and Oleksandr Yaroslavsky. The main topics of the discussion were priority sectors for the strengthening of international economic relations – oil and gas industry, aviation and agriculture.
Particular attention was paid to the possibility of using Ukraine’s experience in Qatar’s preparations for the finals of the 2022 World Cup. In particular, Hryschenko introduced President of DCH Group and FC Metalist Kharkiv Oleksandr Yaroslavsky to the members of the Qatari delegation and proposed using his experience of infrastructure construction and management of the key facilities of the Euro 2012 tournament.
In addition, the question of Ukrainian-Qatari cooperation in the sphere of preparations for Euro 2012 was raised at a meeting between Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani and Yaroslavsky.
As reported, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych arrived on an official visit to Qatar on November 27. In Doha, Yanukovych met with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
After the ceremony chaired by the Ukrainian president and the emir of Qatar the delegations of the two countries held negotiations in a broad format.
Yanukovych also participated in the presentation of Ukrainian national projects that are being implemented on the initiative of the Ukrainian president.Yanukovych’s official visit to Qatar will last until November 28.
Ukraine: the $1bn deal that never was.
Ukraine’s government on Monday rolled out the red carpet for a highly-publicised signing ceremony for a landmark energy deal.
But the event, attended by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko, quickly spiralled into a fiasco, with denials and confusion over what has actually been signed – and by whom.
“This is a historic moment… We’ve taken the first really big step in securing Ukraine’s energy independence,” Azarov announced proudly in Kiev, and ordered construction to begin on a project involving the building of Ukraine’s first LNG terminal.
Live video feed demonstrated welders far away in Odessa region at work as they commenced construction on a pipeline that would connect Ukraine’s vast gas transit network with the proposed Black Sea coast LNG terminal.
Minutes later, with Azarov and Boyko looking on, attention turned to a signing ceremony between “investors” and Vlad Kaskiv, head of Ukraine’s state investment agency.
Journalists were told by Kaskiv that the “investors” had signed agreements to lead a newly-formed consortium – still open to other partners – to build the terminal at a cost of $1.1bn.
Upon completion in coming years, Kaskiv said the LNG terminal would allow Ukraine to import 5-10 bn cubic metres of gas shipped by tanker at a cost 20 per cent lower than the price Ukraine is charged by Russia’s Gazprom.
So far, so good.
The lead investor in the new consortium was identified by Kaskiv as Gas Natural Fenosa, the Spanish energy group. Signing on behalf of Fenosa was a Spanish-speaking man that Kaskiv and his subordinates identified as Jordi Sarda Bonvehi (pictured above, left).
Herein lies the problem.
Officials at Gas Natural Fenosa claim they don’t know Sarda Bonvehi. They say he does not represent their company or its subsidiaries. And, the company has not signed any agreement with Ukraine.
Shocked by news reports suggesting Gas Natural Fenosa had signed agreements to join the consortium, and lead efforts to raise financing for it, the company’s press service issued the following statement:
Gas Natural Fenosa has not signed any contract to invest in a LNG plant project in Ukraine, nor is it leading any consortium whatsoever for the development of the aforementioned terminal. Gas Natural Fenosa has nothing under study in this regard, nor does it have representatives working in Ukraine on this issue. We categorically deny the news reports which have been circulating throughout the day in various media.
Here’s where it gets really strange.
Ukrainian officials claim to be baffled by Gas Natural Fenosa’s statement. They claim to still believe that an agreement was reached with Gas Natural Fenosa. Speaking with beyondbrics, Kaskiv said it was the understanding of his state investment agency that Sarda Bonvehi represents the interests of Gas Natural Fenosa. He and other Ukrainian officials claim to have held negotiations with Gas Natural Fenosa, with Sarda Bonvehi playing the role of a negotiator of sorts. Officials at Gas Natural Fenosa steadfastly deny this.
Beyondbrics tried to talk to Sarda Bonvehi at the signing, but he declined to comment.
Describing the turn of events as “disappointing,” a spokesperson for Ukraine’s prime minster stressed that the country would pursue construction of the strategic LNG terminal – with or without Gas Natural Fenosa, or other investors.
But with its 2012 budget deficit widening, with its economy on the verge of economic recession and government cut off from billions of dollars of International Monetary Fund loans due to lacklustre reform efforts, does Ukraine’s government have the financial fire power to bankroll this project alone? Or will it fall into the hands of billionaire oligarchs that have deep pockets, but already have a powerful hold the country’s economy?
EU urges Ukraine to free Prime Minister Tymoshenko.
European Union officials warned Ukraine on Friday that the ex-Soviet nation can’t integrate with the EU as long as former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko remains in jail.
The jailing of Tymoshenko, the country’s top opposition leader and the heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, has strained Ukraine’s relations with the 27-member bloc, which has condemned the move as politically motivated and frozen a key cooperation agreement with Kiev.
“The issue of selective justice needs to be addressed in order to move ahead to a new level of our relations through the association agreement,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said in a joint statement.
The statement dealt a blow to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who vowed earlier in the day that the conduct of October’s parliamentary election will convince the EU that Ukraine is on the right track.
“We are actively moving toward signing an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union,” Yanukovych told a conference devoted to Ukraine’s EU integration in the Black Sea city of Yalta. “At the moment, our partners have some additional questions for Ukraine, but I am convinced that after the current parliamentary elections, all those concerns will disappear and the path toward full integration of Ukraine and the EU will be completed.”
In the elections, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions will struggle to retain its parliamentary majority against the opposition, united and re-energized by Tymoshenko’s jailing.
Bildt and Fule expressed concern that the election will take place without Tymoshenko and another top opposition leader who served in her government and stressed that the legitimacy of the vote will depend on whether it is free and fair.
“Of course, it’s impossible to do everything as fast as we would like to do,” a visibly irritated Yanukovych said. “The path of reform is not a simple path, but we have been following it and will continue following it.”
Tymoshenko, Yanukovych’s fiercest critic, was sentenced to seven years in prison last October on charges of abuse of office while negotiating a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009. She denies all the charges against her and accuses Yanukovych of throwing her in jail to bar her from the election.
Tymoshenko was the heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests, which annulled Yanukovych’s fraud-tainted election victory and brought a pro-Western government to power. However, Yanukovych was able to return to power, narrowly defeating Tymoshenko in a 2010 presidential vote by riding a public irritation over slow reforms and constant bickering in the Orange camp.
The opposition and rights groups accuse Yanukovych of concentrating too much power in his hands and undoing many of the democratic achievements of the Orange Revolution.
Tymoshenko’s top aide Hrihoriy Nemyria said that Ukraine is doomed to isolation as long as Tymoshenko is kept in jail. “It means that Yanukovych does not have an answer, it means that Yanukovych and Europe are still incompatible,” Nemyria told the AP.
Miller Brands Ukraine to up beer output by 15% in 2012.
PJSC Miller Brands Ukraine (Donetsk), one of the largest brewing companies in Ukraine, in 2012 could increase beer production by 15%, including through expanding its product line.
Production Director Vasyl Basmanov told reporters in Kyiv on Friday that the company in 2011 increased beer production by 51.4% compared to 2010, to 16.4 million decaliters (dal).
“It’s not worth expecting that we will increase production the same way this year, as conditions [on the beer market] are rather tough, and the market is falling,” he said.
Basmanov also reported that in January-August this year the company produced about 12 million dal of beer, which is 20% up on last year.
As reported, Miller Brands Ukraine is among the four leaders of the Ukrainian beer market. Until 2012, the company belonged to SABMiller, and in March 2012, as a result of a strategic alliance between two large international groups, international brewer Efes gained control over Miller Brands Ukraine.
Miller Brands Ukraine produces and imports beer under the Miller Genuine Draft, REDD’S, Zolota Bochka, Velkopopovicky Kozel Svetly, Amsterdam Mariner, Sarmat, Zhygulivske, and Dobry Shubin brands.
Efes is an international company, the fifth largest producer of beer in Europe. It has 18 breweries, seven malting plants and 20 plants for bottling Coca-Cola beverages in 16 countries.
Frank Lampard’s late equalizer for host England salvaged a 1-1 draw against Ukraine on Tuesday in 2014 World Cup qualifying. Lampard scored his 26th goal for England in the 87th minute from the penalty spot after Yevhen Khacheridi handled the ball. Ukraine’s Yevhen Konoplianka had scored in the 39th minute, crisply curling the ball from 25 yards into the top corner past goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Spain opened its qualifying campaign with a 1-0 victory at Georgia. Roberto Soldado’s 86th-minute goal earned Spain, the world and European champion, a 23rd consecutive win in qualifying dating to 2007.
Host Italy, the European Championship runner-up, limped to an unconvincing 2-0 win over lowly Malta in World Cup qualifying. Japan took a significant stride toward the World Cup by beating Iraq, 1-0, while Australia’s campaign had a setback when it stumbled to a 2-1 loss to Jordan. Lebanon also stunned Iran, 1-0, to get its qualifying effort on track.
Ukraine Railways to Spend $1.7 Billion on Investments This Year.
Ukrzaliznytsya, Ukraine’s state owned railway company, plans to spend 14 billion hryvnia ($1.72 billion) on capital investment this year.
The investment includes 6 billion hryvnia for rolling stock, Ukrzaliznytsya said in a statement on its website today. Loans will cover 8.4 billion hryvnia of the spending, according to the company, which is based in the capital city of Kiev.
Net income this year will reach 496.4 million hryvnia, Ukrzaliznytsya, said without providing year earlier figures.
Can’t make it without Roo: Ukraine fright shows Hodgson he still needs Rooney.
“The sooner he comes back into our fold the better because we’re short of experienced quality front players” admits England boss.
Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Wayne Rooney remains the heart and soul of his England plans.
Rooney’s sub-par performances at Euro 2012 and the emergence of youngsters Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain led to questions over the Manchester United striker’s England future.
But the need for Rooney’s craft and spontaneity was abundantly clear in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying draw with Ukraine, which he missed because of injury.
And, as Hodgson suggested post-game that Cleverley and Oxlade-Chamberlain must show they have the mental strength to bounce back from their first taste of the “flipside” of international football, the Three Lions chief also conceded Rooney is integral to his vision.
Hodgson said: “We’ll get the best out of Wayne Rooney, because he’s desperate to play for England.
“He’s an excellent footballer and a quality player – and with quality players, the quality is permanent.
“The general view after the Euros – and I’m not certain I totally agree – was he didn’t do well and didn’t play well in the two games.
“I’m not going to stand here arguing and defending and debating that, but I will accept that was the general opinion.
“I still think I’ve a very good player in Wayne Rooney and I know he’s very anxious to do well for England, just as I see Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard still desperate, and John Terry.”
Rooney has been sidelined with a badly gashed thigh he picked up against Fulham last month.
Hodgson added: “I’ve spoken to Wayne, of course. He’s had a nasty injury and we’re hoping he gets over it as soon as possible.
“We’re blessed with quite a few very good midfielders although it’s surprising in this game of football how riches become anything other than riches very quickly.
“But the sooner he comes back into our fold the better because we’re short of experienced and quality front players.”If fit, Rooney has been earmarked to return against San Marino at Wembley next month and the crunch game against Poland in Warsaw four days later.
But Hodgson accepted he may have to take close looks at how Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley respond to discovering international football is not always as simple as it seemed in Moldova last week.
Cleverley missed two great chances and hit a post, while left-back Leighton Baines was occasionally left exposed by the buccaneering of Oxlade-Chamberlain on the same flank.
Both youngsters were substituted before the end.
Hodgson added: “Tom had a very good game, as did Alex.
“Ukraine was always going to be difficult and I’m afraid the flipside of the coin is when the game doesn’t go quite so well the praise is replaced by a bit of criticism.”
Ukraine ex-PM’s tax evasion trial adjourned until October 15.
A Ukrainian court on Tuesday adjourned the tax evasion and embezzlement trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko until October 15, citing her inability to attend the trial due to poor health.
The 51-year-old opposition leader is serving a seven-year sentence on a separate abuse-of-office charge linked to a gas deal she brokered with Russia in 2009 as prime minister.
A Ukrainian high court last month rejected her appeal against that conviction and Tymoshenko’s lawyers now plan to challenge it in the European Court for Human Rights.
Her trial in the city of Kharkiv for alleged tax evasion and embezzlement going back to the 1990s has been put off several times as she refused to attend because of back trouble for which she is receiving treatment in a state-run hospital.
“The court has ruled that it is impossible to hear the case in the absence of defendant Tymoshenko and her attorney Yevgenia (Tymoshenko’s daughter),” Judge Kostyantyn Sadovsky told the courtroom.
Tymoshenko, the main political adversary of President Viktor Yanukovich, has dismissed all charges against her as politically motivated.
The European Union has supported Tymoshenko, calling her case an example of selective justice and shelving key agreements on free trade and political association with Ukraine over the issue.
Tymoshenko led the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that doomed Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency, and has since served twice as prime minister.
Yanukovich, who beat her in a close run-off to become president in February 2010, has refused to intervene in Tymoshenko’s case despite being urged to do so by the West.
A “guilty” verdict in the tax evasion case would keep Tymoshenko behind bars even if the European Court of Human Rights eventually overturns her first conviction.
Ukraine cuts steel output 5% in 8 months.
Ukrainian crude steel production fell 5% year-on-year in January-August to 22.01 million tonnes.
Roll production fell 7% to 19.681 million tonnes and pig iron production was flat at 19.083 million tonnes, Vasily Kharakhulakh, general director of the Metallurgprom association, said at a conference on Wednesday.
Steel mills received 376,000 tonnes of scrap or 84% of their requirement in August, and 3.322 million tonnes or 85% in the 8M. Scrap metal stockpiles fell 20,000 tonnes during August to 130,000 tonnes.
As of September 1, 26 of the country’s 36 blast furnaces, 12 of 16 open-hearth furnaces and seven of 15 electric furnaces were operating. Average daily pig iron output in the first ten days of September was 75,300 tonnes, crude steel – 85,600 tonnes and roll – 68,800 tonnes.
Ukraine plans to produce 2.64 million tonnes of crude steel, 2.37 million tonnes of roll and 2.3 million tonnes of pig iron in September as a whole, and 2.59 million tonnes, 2.37 million tonnes and 2.34 million tonnes in October.
Steel mills will require 575,000 tonnes of sinter ore, 1.44 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate, 310,000 tonnes of sinter, 760,000 tonnes of pellets, 925,000 tonnes of limestone, 1.21 million tonnes of coke and 470,000 of scrap to achieve the October targets.
Kharakhulakh said he thought Ukraine would produce roughly as much steel as last year in 2012 because there were no signs of growth in the markets. “We shouldn’t expect significant changes in the steel market before the end of the year. There has been some price growth for long products and a drop for flat products, but no real fluctuations,” he said.
Ukraine raised both steel and pig iron output 6% in 2011 to 34.689 million tonnes and 28.879 million tonnes, respectively.
Ukraine responds to Russia with recycling fee on cars.
Ukraine has introduced a recycling fee on cars imported from Russia, a decree published on Wednesday showed, escalating a conflict after Moscow took a similar step this month.
Trade disputes between Russia and the former Soviet republic include differences over natural gas as Kiev seeks to revise a 2009 deal on Russian supplies and a clash over dairy imports which erupted earlier this year.
Ukraine’s government published a decree on its website introducing the fee, which starts at about $900 and goes up according to engine capacity.
Russia, traditionally protective of its car industry but forced to cut import duties after joining the World Trade Organisation, introduced similar fees this month to keep the price of imported cars effectively unchanged.
Ukraine and Russia have separate agreements on duty-free car trade and the new measure has made Ukrainian vehicles more expensive for Russians, adding $600 to $20,000 to the price per unit.
Russia, which bought $344 million worth of Ukrainian cars, buses and trucks last year, accounts for 90 percent of Ukrainian car exports and 40 percent of its total output.
Ukraine, in turn, bought Russian-produced vehicles worth a total of $453 million last year.
The two neighbours fought a “cheese war” this year when Russia banned imports of cheese made by a number of Ukrainian producers, accusing them of using cheap ingredients such as palm oil in place of milk fats.
Ukraine then responded by halting dairy imports from Belarus, Russia’s ally and a member of a Moscow-led customs union which also includes Kazakhstan.
Russia has long urged Ukraine to join the same customs union, offering perks such as cheaper energy supplies and improved market access, but Kiev has so far refused to do so.
Analysts say the latest conflict is likely to be resolved soon, however.
“I think that Russia and Ukraine will soon sign a document eliminating these fees,” said Oleh Nazarenko, head of the Ukrainian car importers and dealers’ association.
Lightweight Ukraine Succeeds Among Heavyweight Nations at Paralympics 2012.
Ukraine became the only country with GDP under one trillion to make it to the Top 5 at the Paralympics 2012 in London. Taking into account GDP volume for each country in the 2012 Paralympics Top 5, Ukraine has the highest medal return. One medal won by the emerging Eastern European economy was worth under one billion in GDP count, while for all of Ukraine’s counterparts, the figure stood from over 16 to more than 31 billion.
China took first place in the competition with 231 medals (95 gold), while Russia was second with less than half as much – 102 medals (36 gold). Despite the UK team winning a total of 120 medals, it became third in the Games with 34 gold. Only two gold medals short of the UK result were the Ukrainian and Australian teams, who each scored 32 gold medals.
It was a close call for the Ukrainian team at the Paralympics games, which took place on August 29 – September 9, 2012, as it had beaten the Australians by only one – its 24th – silver medal. Ukrainian footballers got the Eastern European country its final silver in a match against Russia on September 9th.
The Ukrainian team garnered its most medals in swimming – 44 overall, 17 gold. Another 22 medals were won in athletics. Ukraine also won gold in cycling road, judo, rowing, and shooting.
The British media anticipated Ukraine’s impressive performance – The Telegraph and the BBC dedicated feature pieces to Ukraine’s success in Paralympic sports. “[Ukraine] has moved up the Paralympic medals table faster than any other in history,” reckons a BBC reporter, noting that Ukraine took the 44th spot at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics but finished fourth in the 2008 Beijing Games.
The BBC highlights the training system for disabled children in Ukraine that allows for future champions: “There is now at least one school in every region of Ukraine dedicated to introducing … disabled children to everything from volleyball to athletics and swimming to powerlifting … The experience gives them confidence, friends and an element of physical rehabilitation.” The author goes on to say: “Today, this system is recognised as one of the best in the world, despite lower levels of Paralympic funding than in countries such as China, the UK, the US and Australia.”
Ukraine’s wheat exports likely to fall from November.
Ukraine’s monthly wheat exports will fall sharply starting from November or December as traders deplete the agreed quota aimed at ensuring stable local bread prices after a fall in 2012 wheat output, the Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday. “The contracts that have already been signed will be fulfilled and starting from November or December wheat exports will be 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes per month,” Serhiy Kvasha, the head of the ministry’s markets department, told reporters.
Ukraine exported 824,000 tonnes of wheat last month. Ukraine’s wheat harvest fell to 16.3 million tonnes bunker weight in 2012 from 22.3 million tonnes clean weight in 2011. Bunker weight usually exceeds clean weight by 5 to 7 percent. Analysts and traders forecast the 2012 wheat crop at about 14 million tonnes in clean weight. Ukraine consumes about 12 million tonnes of wheat per season.
The ministry and grain traders’ unions earlier this month agreed on 2012/13 maximum export volumes of 19.4 million tonnes of grain, including 4.0 million of wheat. Traders have said the government may limit wheat exports in early 2013 in a bid to prevent a jump in domestic grain prices after the wheat harvest declined this year.
Ukraine to Introduce European Standard of Biometric ID.
A bill concerning the introduction of biometric IDs in Ukraine passed the first reading in the country’s parliament. Biometric documents will contribute to border security between Ukraine and the EU. The draft law provides for the creation of a unified state demographic register, which will contain basic personal information on each citizen. Additionally, the draft stipulates issuing the documents for traveling abroad that have a built-in proximity chip with registry information on the holder.
The new document standard will help eliminate ID fraud and thus increase border security. The registry may become accessible to all the relevant European services and institutions, improving the time and cost efficiency of their work, including the shortened border control procedure.
The Action Plan on visa liberalization with Ukraine was adopted in November 2010. The document stipulates that the government of Ukraine has to carry out a set of reforms regarding document security, illegal migration, internal security, external relations, and fundamental rights. Moreover, the EU plans to assess the effect visa liberalisation would make on illegal migration streams between Ukraine and the EU.
Working towards the goal of visa free regime, in 2010, Ukraine adopted the strategy of integrated border management. Same year the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych created the State Migration Service, responsible for managing citizenship, immigration, registration, and asylum issues. Furthermore, Ukrainian government took steps towards personal data protection necessary to launch biometric IDs, informed the Polish Centre for Eastern Studies.
Another development following the Action Plan is reforming border control system. The State Border Guard Service adopted new standards of recruitment, training and career development, highlights the Polish Centre for Eastern Studies. Ukraine has also been increasing border protection efficiency – through agreements with neighboring Belarus and Russia regarding common borders.
Currently, Ukraine is at stage one of the two-stage visa liberalization process. In July 2012, the EU and Ukraine extended the list of categories of Ukrainian citizens using the simplified visa procedure while travelling to the EU. Notably, the number of visas issued to the Ukrainian citizens demonstrates steady year on year increase, said Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira (the Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine at the time) in August 2012.
Ukrainian court postpones Tymoshenko appeal.Ukraine’s prime minister said Tuesday that his predecessor had been correctly convicted of abusing her powers in signing a gas deal with Russia, and invited European observers to watch her appeal.
On a visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko had been convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison by a judiciary that was free and independent. Tymoshenko’s appeal, however, was postponed in Ukraine on Tuesday on what her lawyers called political grounds.
Azarov invited observers from the European Union nations to Ukraine to watch the appeal process.
“They can review the documents. They can learn more about the procedure and they can listen to the arguments,” Azarov told reporters through a translator.
Azarov said it was already clear she falsified documents that led Ukraine to pay $8 billion a year extra for a gas contract with Russia. Last year, the prosecutor office said Tymoshenko’s actions cost the state 3.5 billion hryvna ($440 million) in damages.
The 27-nation European Union has criticized her sentence as being politically motivated.
Tymoshenko has accused President Viktor Yanukovych, the longtime rival who narrowly defeated her in the 2010 presidential election, of jailing her to prevent her from posing a challenge in October parliamentary elections.
Prosecutors argued Tuesday that the appeal should be postponed because Tymoshenko is undergoing medical treatment for a back condition in a hospital in Kharkiv, the city where she is imprisoned, and would be unable to appear in court in Kiev, the capital.
In ruling in favor of the prosecution, the High Specialized Court for Civil and Criminal Cases set a new date of June 26, which falls near the end of the European soccer championship.
Some EU officials and governments have vowed to boycott the games in Ukraine over Tymoshenko’s imprisonment.
Tymoshenko’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, condemned the postponement.
“Today’s decision is complete nonsense on the level of the country’s highest court,” he told reporters. “Today, Yanukovych has again spat in the face of Europe.”
He said the delay was aimed at preventing Tymoshenko from appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, which can be done only after the appeals process has been exhausted at home, but Vlasenko said they would go ahead and do so anyway.
Azarov insisted Ukraine’s judicial institutions were impartial and invited EU observers to come check it during Tymoshenko’s appeal.
“We are ready to invite to this process the representatives of the judicial services of the european countries. They can review the documents. They can learn more about the procedure and they can listen to the arguments,” he said.
With two goalkeepers ruled out and a third in a race to recover from injury, Ukraine is heading into the European Championship in crisis.
Dynamo Kiev veteran Oleksandr Shovkovskiy is out because of shoulder surgery and Shakhtar Donetsk keeper Oleksandr Rybka has been banned for doping.
That leaves Spartak Moscow goalkeeper Andriy Dykan as the first choice, but he is recovering from facial injuries and may not be healthy in time.
“I can’t say my condition is satisfactory, although it is better,” Dykan said. “As for Euro 2012, I really, really want to play. But time is passing, and I realize that my dream is drifting away.”
The 34-year-old Dykan was hit in the face during a game in the Russian league on March 31, less than 10 weeks before co-host Ukraine opens Euro 2012 against Sweden.
“I hope that Dykan will return to the national team,” Ukraine goalkeeper coach Yuriy Romenskiy said. “Although the chance of that isn’t very high.”
If Dykan joins Shovkovskiy and Rybka on the sidelines, Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin will likely turn to 27-year-old Andriy Pyatov. The Shakhtar Donetsk keeper has made 24 international appearances but has played rarely for his club this season after losing his place to Rybka.
The loss of Shovkovskiy is the biggest blow to the team’s chances of getting through Group D, which also includes England, France and Sweden.
The 37-year-old Shovkovskiy, who has made 92 appearances for Ukraine, injured his shoulder ligaments in a domestic-league game in late April — only five weeks before the tournament. Doctors initially hoped to put off an operation until after the tournament, but had to leave that idea behind two weeks later.
“It’s a cruel world. Circumstances often ruin all our dreams,” Shovkovskiy wrote on his Facebook page. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for tomorrow.”
The 25-year-old Rybka would have been the obvious replacement for the two injured goalkeepers, but he was banned for two years by UEFA in January after failing a doping test. The club said he accidentally took a banned diuretic as a slimming method without informing the team doctor.
The lack of an experienced keeper further weakens Ukraine’s already-shaky defense. The team conceded two goals in a victory over Israel in February and three in a draw with Germany at home in November.
Ukraine: “Londonskaya” Hosts VI International Ports Conference.
On May 14 at the conference hall of hotel “Londonskaya” the VI International Conference “Freight and Ports of the Azov-Black Seas Basin” took place.
Among the participants there were representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Israel, Britain, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Egypt, Norway, Romania, the Netherlands and other countries. Organizers – “Business Forum” company, “Industrial cargoes” magazine, IA “Metal-Courier.” The general partner is the port of Odessa.
Before the beginning of the forum the General Manager of the port of Odessa Yuriy Vaskov welcomed the guests:
“Despite the crisis and post-crisis periods the cargo turnover volumes in 2011 increased in domestic ports,” said Mr. Vaskov. “The credit for increase is shared by both public and private ports and terminals that are currently handle 40 percent of cargoes. Consequently, the market is growing for freight and transport companies.”
“I want to remind that Ukraine is on the threshold of reform of port industry: we expecte adoption of the Law “On Sea Ports” in the nearest future. The main purpose of this Act is not privatization, as many mistakenly believe, but to provide opportunities for investors to enter the Ukrainian ports on terms of concession. This will allow investing in infrastructure development, respectively, in the Ukrainian ports and attracting additional cargoes.”
“Many domestic companies and neighboring countries expect the adoption of the Act, to obtain a concession of port facilities and increase cargo base. For us, the port workers, it means an increase in cargo handling, transport streams, passing through the territory of Ukraine. The prospects on my opinion are positive. The main thing is not to lose time to participate actively in the forthcoming reforms. I wish you all success, share experience, which then can be used in practice.”
The conference program includes analysis of dry cargo market of the Black and Azov Seas basin, the market of bulk, grain cargoes, a review of exports of ferrous metals in the Black Sea, the consideration of the potential of container shipping on the Black Sea and its connection with the container shipping market on the Mediterranean Sea and other issues.
Topless Ukraine activist grabs Euro soccer cup.
A Ukrainian women’s rights activist stripped to the waist and seized the Euro-2012 soccer trophy while it was on public display in Kiev on Saturday in a protest against the forthcoming month-long championship.
The young woman, 23-year-old Yulia Kovpachik, is a member of the Kiev-based Femen women’s rights group which believes the Euro-2012 soccer tournament being played in Ukraine next month will encourage sex tourism.
Kovpachik strode up to the silver, 60 centimeter (two feet) high trophy, which was on display as a tourist attraction in an open air exhibition in central Kiev, ostensibly to be photographed alongside it like hundreds of other sightseers.
But she then pulled down her red T-shirt to reveal the words “Fuck Euro 2012″ scrawled on her torso. As she grabbed hold of the cup with both hands, she was seized by security guards, who appeared to have had advanced warning of the protest.
They covered her with a sheet and took her off to a waiting police car.
The protest appeared to be the first action in a campaign against the championship by Femen which regularly stages bare-breast protests in Ukraine – and sometimes beyond – to highlight what it sees as political injustice, social abuse and the exploitation of women in Ukraine.
Femen says Euro-2012, which Ukraine is co-hosting with Poland next month with the final in Kiev on July 1, will be a magnet for sex tourists – one of the group’s main targets – and will feed a booming sex industry.
About one million foreign tourists are expected in Ukraine for the Euros.
Organisers said the 8 kg (17 lbs) Henri Delaunay cup was undamaged though Kovpachik appeared to topple back under its weight as security guards seized her. It was still on show in late evening.
Femen’s spokeswoman, Anna Gutsol, said Kovpachik, who staged the protest on her 23rd birthday, was released after being told she would have to appear in court on Monday on a charge of hooliganism. The charge carries a maximum fine of 800 hryvnias ($100) and 15 days detention.
Conscious of Ukraine’s growing reputation as a new destination for sex tourism, Euro-2012 organisers say they are taking steps to curb prostitution during the month-long tournament.
After Kovpachik’s protest, Femen activist Olexandra Shevchenko told reporters: “We came here today to stop this Euro fan low-life from making a bordello out of Ukraine.”
City authorities have mounted the trophy in a temporary exhibition area on Kiev’s Independence Square.
Hundreds of sightseers were queuing up under the blazing sun for souvenir photographs alongside it when Kovpachik staged her demonstration.
Independence Square itself will be the centre of a huge ‘fan-zone’ during Euro-2012, capable of holding tens of thousands of football supporters.
Rejection of EU-Ukraine association process would betray people and Eastern Partnership principles, says Fule.
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule has stated that association is a common goal of Ukraine and the EU, and the rejection of this process would “betray the people and principles of the Eastern Partnership.”
Fule said this at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday while summing up the results of a meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council.
The Association Agreement will bring benefits to both Ukraine and the EU, while Ukraine’s territorial integrity will be respected, the EU commissioner said.
“There’s no plan B. We believe that the rejection of the association process would be a betrayal of the people and the principles of the eastern Partnership. But this does not mean that we will compromise on the issues of democratic values, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the supremacy of law, which are a part of this agreement. Ukraine’s commitment to European integration will be assessed on the base of its commitment to reform,” he said.
The EU commissioner once again expressed hope that Ukraine will find a solution to the problems of politically motivated persecutions and selective justice.
While speaking about reforms, Fule noted the constitutional reform in Ukraine and said that the president of Ukraine set up a constitutional assembly. He added that this process should be supported comprehensively and transparently.
“We have positive signals that Ukraine is ready to resume a serious discussion on the modernization of the gas transit system, which could open the way for receiving assistance from the EU and international financial organizations,” he said.
Fule outlined a number of other issues that should be tackled by the sides. In particular, he said that Kyiv and Brussels decided to start an informal dialogue on the business climate.
“This was a serious and sometimes difficult discussion. The measures we are expecting to be taken by Ukraine are absolutely clear, and political association and economic integration are our common goal,” he said.
Ukraine squad faces tough training-Blokhin.
Ukrainian football coach Oleh Blokhin took his 26-man Euro 2012 squad off to training camp in Turkey on Tuesday warning them they were in for a psychological shake-up to give them an outside chance of surviving elimination in the early stages.
This is going to be a holiday only for their wives, he said.
With a goalkeeping crisis that has forced Blokhin to call up two uncapped keepers and a creaking defence, Ukraine’s national team is seen as having only a slim chance of getting through tough Group D matches against Sweden, England and France.
But with the right psychological preparation this was still a reality, he said.
“Euro 2012 can turn out in different ways. However you look at it, Ukraine’s team has got younger and we have now essentially a new team,” he said.
“Our task is to qualify from the group. In 2006 nobody believed we would qualify for the finals of the World Cup. Appetite comes with eating,” he told reporters.
Blokhin, 59, a former European player of the year, led the national team to the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup.
“But if the lads think that this (training in Turkey) will be a stroll, they are mistaken. For their wives maybe. But for the lads it will be twice-daily training, morning and evenings,” he was quoted as saying by Segodnya newspaper.
After training in Turkey, Ukraine, co-host of the Euro 2012 tournament with Poland, will play warm-ups against Estonia, Austria and Turkey before going into their opening Euro clash against Sweden in Kiev on June 11.
Blokhin has brought in young attackers like Andriy Yarmolenko of Dynamo Kiev and Yevhen Konoplyanka of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to boost Ukraine’s striking power.
Veteran striker Andriy Shevchenko also says he is fit enough to turn out for his swansong in the national team, though Blokhin still has to make a final decision over the 35-year-old, an icon of Ukrainian football.
“I can say one thing: some footballers have come along who are forcing us trainers to consider more attacking play,” Blokhin told reporters.
But he said that, apart from his goalkeeping nightmare, the defence generally was a major preoccupation. “The situation in defence has not got any better. It’s good that (Yaroslav) Rakitsky and (Oleksandr) Kucher are scoring goals,” he said referring to their club form.
“But matches against the leading teams of Europe will not allow two flank defenders to play in the other half of the pitch. They are going to have to look after the defence,” Blokhin said.
He acknowledged that Ukraine looked in good shape in midfield, but felt concerns here too.
“How the midfield plays is how the whole team plays. And things are not so smooth here either. I have concerns. Touch wood that injuries do not make the situation worse,” he said.
Special Report has uncovered a worrying culture of football hooliganism in Ukraine – the co-hosts of Euro 2012.
We’ve spent six months investigating a group of Shakhtar Donetsk fans with neo-Nazi links and discovered that they’ll be targeting England fans when the tournament kicks off next month.
Local officials hope that Euro 2012 will be a celebration of football but there remain serious doubts over their ability to safely deliver such a complicated event.
High up on the list of concerns is the threat of hooliganism; Ukrainian police admit that there are nearly 1,500 active football hooligans in the country.
Cass Pennant, a former football hooligan, told Special Report: “It’s dangerous for English fans to go anywhere outside of England; the reputation goes before England fans worldwide when it comes to the word hooliganism.
“That was established in the 70s and the 80s. Through that reputation, the England fan has that as a burden today because it is a different fan-base.
“What you’ve got in effect is the hunter has become the hunted. The Polish and the Ukraine guys – it’s their way of life; they live it. They are on it all week. It’s a big build-up and they want to test themselves.
“If they test themselves against the English, the kudos is massive to them. Suddenly people will look up because they fought England and say ‘what about these Ukraine guys?’”
Our investigative team managed to infiltrate a hard-core gang of ultras, called ‘The Donetsk Company’ at their operational HQ, in their combat gym and during a brutal, organised fight with a company of ultras from Dynamo Kiev.
The Ukrainian police have told us that Tolik, the leader of the Donetsk Company, is at the top of their hooligans’ watch list, but he remains free to attend matches, including those at this summer’s European Championship.
Ukraine unveils the renewed terminal at Donetsk international airport.
Country officials open the renewed terminal at Donetsk international airport in Ukraine just in time for EURO 2012. The renewed airport boasts a seven-storey terminal capable of servicing up to 3,100 passengers per hour (previously – 700), reads the statement by Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry.
Donetsk airport recently introduced an artificial runway suitable for all types of airplanes, including the heavy Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. It boasts the tallest in the country 52 meter control tower. The International Civil Aviation Organization granted the airport the ICAO III A category, allowing it to accept landings at zero visibility conditions.
“At the beginning of the 1930s the constructors of this airport had no idea what a high technology site it would grow into,”said the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych at the opening ceremony on May 14 th. The Airport’s renewed infrastructure will help manage the increasing number of passengers arriving in the eastern Ukrainian city for EURO 2012.
Ukrainian state budget contributed USD 758 million into the Donetsk airport reconstruction. Additionally, private investments and local budget funded the construction. Curiously, in November of 2011 the airport was named after renowned classical composer Serhiy Prokofiev, who originated from Donetsk.
EURO 2012 triggered reconstruction works at Kyiv and Lviv airports, while Donetsk and Kharkiv ones were built from scratch. In 2012 western Ukrainian EURO 2012 host Lviv opened a new terminal. It services up to 2,100 persons per hour. Interestingly, Budapest airport has the channel capacity of 970 persons per hour (8.5 million a year).
The Airport in Kharkiv boasts a new 2.5 kilometer runway (allowing the airport to service Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 landings), renewed infrastructure, and a terminal. New terminal F at Boryspil airport in Kyiv has a waiting zone of 5,670 square meters and capacity of 2,400 passengers per hour. Comparably, the waiting area in Moscow’s Domodedovo airport is 2,900 square meters.
Final renovations are under way at Kyiv airports Zhuliany and Boryspil. In May 2012 Zhuliany will get a new terminal with a total area of 14,270 square meters and channel capacity of 320 persons per hour. In June 2012 Boryspil will open additional terminal D, servicing over 20 planes at a time. Currently, Boryspil operates 62 percent of passenger traffic in the country.
No dictatorship in Ukraine says prime minister.
Mykola Azarov became Ukraine’s prime minister in March 2010. Since then his premiership has come under sharp focus in Europe and beyond with concerns over the treatment of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko who is currently serving a seven year prison sentence on charges of abuse of office. Mykola Azarov spoke with Euronews correspondent, Sergio Cantone.
Sergio Cantone euronews: “Prime minister welcome to euronews. There are a lot of concerns in the EU, especially among the EU leaders about the situation concerning the rule of law in Ukraine, Merkel, the chancellor of Germany compared Ukraine to a dictatorship, compared Ukraine to Belarus, so what is your idea about it?
Mykola Azarov, Ukraine’s Prime Minister: “Just a few days spent in Ukraine, or maybe more, would be enough for anyone to be sure that there’s no dictatorship in Ukraine, and neither is there any political repression. Democratic political parties are active in Ukraine, some of them are represented in the parliament, some of them not. We have total freedom of expression. I personally regard (Mrs. Merkel’s) remark to be politically incorrect. It doesn’t help to strengthen bilateral relations between Germany and Ukraine, and moreover, between Ukraine and the EU as a whole.
Euronews: “Don’t you think that you have to find a way out from this situation that is putting your country in a terrible stalemate vis-à-vis your partners in the west?”
Mykola Azarov: “Mrs. Tymoshenko was not convicted for her political beliefs. She was convicted for forging an official document called the Directive of the Ukraine’s government. Using this forged document she made (her subordinates) sign a very unfavourable and detrimental contract for gas supplies with Russia. Now our country has to pay almost double the price for gas purchases compared to current average European prices.”
Euronews: “So, anyway, you think that the EU leadership is drawing conclusions based on wrong legal information about the situation in this country?
Mykola Azarov: “I’ve asked a simple question about her actions. Was it a political decision or a crime? And I would like the respected European lawyers to answer this question.”
Euronews: “They already gave the answer and it is that this is a politically motivated judgement, they say that the Ukrainian government, the current Ukrainian power wants to get rid of an inconvenient opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, that is their position.”
Mykola Azarov: “I would like to once again point out all the circumstances related to the case. I wonder whether the European leaders have full information about it. We are ready to provide such information. It is an irrefutable fact. So there is a question: was the investigation politically motivated, or was it called for by huge losses sustained by our country because of her actions?”
Euronews:“Prime minister I understand but don’t you think that there is also the fact that there is a lack of trust in the Ukrainian justice system abroad as well as in Ukraine?”
Mykola Azarov: “That’s precisely why we’ve undertaken a huge task of reforming our judicial system. A new Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine will come into effect that would broaden the citizens’ rights. This is why we wage a real war against corruption. The scale of this fight is significantly wider than, say, two years ago. It’s really a huge fight against corruption. We are trying to deregulate the economy because we see the problem and we do our best to create a favourable investment climate in Ukraine. And we will succeed!”
Euronews: “Are you going to surprise, in some way, somehow the rest of Europe by probably letting Tymoshenko go treat her health problem abroad?”
Mykola Azarov: “Let us not jump the gun. She is now undergoing treatment which will enable us to understand whether any further medical help is required. After that, if there is a conclusion by competent and authoritative medical bodies that adequate treatment cannot be provided in Ukraine, but can be granted at some facility outside Ukraine, only then could Ukraine’s leadership can consider such a possibility, based, which I want to stress, purely on humanitarian grounds. It is clear though, that such a decision would require changes in appropriate laws and regulations.”
Ukraine comes under renewed pressure to make reforms.
Ukraine’s prime minister has been told that the European Union is not prepared to sign off a cooperation agreement with the country, in protest at its human rights record.
The EU has presented a progress report, which demands further reforms in the country – including improvements to the justice system.
“There is a deterioration all across the areas that are related to the values of the EU,” said Jose Manuel Teixeira, EU Ambassador to Ukraine.
“We make this report, there is dialogue with the authorities, they must understand that without moving, their expressions of commitment to the EU will not be able to materialise.”
Threatened with a political boycott of the Euro 2012 football tournament next month, Ukraine has now delayed a ruling on an appeal lodged by jailed opposition politican Yulia Tymoshenko – until after the event has got underway.
“It is undoubtebly a political decision, which has nothing to do with the law,” said Sehiy Vlasenko, Tymoshenko’s lawyer.
“This is an attempt to delay the case for political purposes. Namely, in order to continue telling lies to the European Union, saying ‘look, we still have no definitive final decision, so let’s wait and see.’”
Tymoshenko ended a hunger strike last week after she was moved from prison to a hospital to undergo treatment for chronic back pain. She says her jailing is an act of political revenge.
Viktor Yanukovych extends Christmas greetings to Ukrainians
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has wished Ukrainians a Merry Christmas.
“The joy of birth of the Son of God fills our hearts with warmth and hope. Christmas unites and reconciles us. Today, the Savior brings the light of goodness and love to every house,” reads the greeting posted on the president’s Web site on Saturday.
Viktor Yanukovych wished Ukrainians joyful and pleasant holidays, health and happiness. “May every house be blessed with peace, prosperity and harmony. Long live Ukraine and the Ukrainian people!” the president said.
Lviv airport will be ready for Euro 2012 by end of Q1, 2012, according to mass media
The Lviv airport runway is 80% completed, and the entire airfield of Lviv airport will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Aviation of Ukraine portal, with reference to the National Agency on Preparations for and Holding the Euro 2012 European Football Championship Finals in Ukraine.
According to the director of the airport development at Zakhidinfraproekt, Mykola Mahasevych, last year builders had to work “under extraordinary circumstances” as the airport was permanently operating.
“If Lviv International Airport completely ceased its work during reconstruction, the runway would be completed. Today, thanks to the intense and conscientious work of the builders in quite extremely conditions, the major part of work has been performed notwithstanding time limitation,” said Mahasevych.
Ukraine to introduce EU model to control food quality, biosecurity service head says
The Ukrainian government due to the increasing number of poisoning cases and detecting low grade food has decided to create a model for food quality control according to the standards of the European Union, Head of the State Veterinary and Biosecurity Service of Ukraine Ivan Bisiuk has said.
“On the model of the EU states, the veterinary service of Ukraine will be able to fully control food quality and safety from fertilizing, feeding animals, monitoring pesticide residues and veterinary drugs in animal products to processing animal and vegetable goods, supplies to consumers, controlling logistics chains and sales on the whole territory of the country,” the press service said citing Bisiuk.
He noted that the reform of the food industry foresees “the creation of a single authorized body on the basis of the State Veterinary and Biosecurity Service.”
“However, this does not mean that from now on only veterinarians should control herbal products or dietary and baby food. Specialists from other structures will be transferred to the state service with this purpose,” Bisiuk explained.
Daughter defends Oleksandr Tymoshenko’s decision to seek Czech political asylum
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s daughter, Yevhenia, has said that her father, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, applied to the Czech government for political asylum “out of necessity”.
“My father did not want to leave. Even now he is greatly worried about it. But I think that it was a necessary measure, given the situation our family found itself in,” Yevhenia Tymoshenko told the TVi television station, according to Yulia Tymoshenko’s Web site.
Yevhenia said that it would have been much more difficult for her family if the authorities had continued prosecuting Oleksandr Tymoshenko.
“If the authorities had continued their reprisals against him, it would have effected my mother even stronger than in this situation now that she has already been sent to a penal colony,” she said.
Oleksandr Tymoshenko was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic on January 6, 2012.
Vitaliy Klychko UDAR party in talks with Hrytsenko’s Civil Position
Vitaliy Klychko has confirmed that the UDAR party, which he heads, is holding the talks with the Civil Position political party lead by Anatoliy Hrytsenko and said that it is too early to speak about the unification yet.
“Yes, we are holding the talks, comparing our positions, but it is too early to talk about unification. We see that we can work together: we share the same position, we share the same principles, we focus on the same matters, but we have never negotiated this before. This doesn’t matter that we have already agreed, but such talks are underway,” Klychko said in an interview with Channel 5.
Tymoshenko’s husband Oleksandr Tymoshenko to register Batkivschyna international NGO in Prague
Oleksandr Tymoshenko, the husband of jailed former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition Batkivschyna party leader Yulia Tymoshenko, has submitted documents in Prague to register the International Non-Governmental Organization Batkivschyna.
In an interview with Radio Liberty, Oleksandr Tymoshenko said the documents were filed in December 2011. He said that organization’s mission is “to analyze the actions of the ruling government and its criminal activities aimed at robbing Ukraine, provide coverage of the activities of Yanukovych’s government in foreign publications, and monitor observance of human rights and freedoms and democratic principles in Ukraine.
“You have to understand that Yanukovych’s regime is not the Ukrainian people. It is a group of former bandits dressed in Brioni who through lies, by manipulating Ukrainian law, secured absolute power in the country and are cheating and robbing the Ukrainian people,” Oleksandr Tymoshenko said.
According to him, the people did not elect a president of Ukraine with such powers and they did not give parliament such powers.
“The people didn’t elect deputies that were bribed to switch parties, they voted for party factions. Because of the betrayal by certain deputies there was a constitutional coup that allowed the dictatorship of Yanukovych, who has been fighting against Yulia Tymoshenko for all these years,” the ex-premier’s husband said.
“Today Yulia Tymoshenko and other political prisoners are in jail, while Yanukovych sits on a golden toilet with his sons and junta – [Ukrainian business tycoon Dmytro] Firtash, [head of presidential administration Serhiy] Liovochkin, [Chief Security Service of Ukraine Valeriy] Khoroshkovsky, and [Prosecutor General Renat] Kuzmin and their sons – and robs the Ukrainian people,” he said.
GTS reform should be considered after gas talks, says Rada speaker
The reform of the gas transportation system (GTS) of Ukraine should be considered after the completion of the Russian-Ukrainian gas talks, Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn has said.
“The thing is that since the talks are underway, it seems to me that this issue should be considered when the negotiations produce some results – when they agree on something. And then, if needed, the legal basis should be provided transparently, openly and taking into account national interests,” he told reporters on Tuesday when asked when the parliament will consider the government’s bill on the reform of Ukraine’s gas transportation system.
Lytvyn also recalled that he had discussed this matter with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Ukrainian presidential administration, and they had backed this position.
“Everyone conceded that we do not need to rush with the consideration of this matter,” the speaker said.
The speaker said that the parliament would not address the bill this week.
Turchynov: Yulia Volodymyrivna was unconscious for over two hours after taking medicines
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko was unconscious for over two hours in the Kachanivska penal colony (Kharkiv), after she was given unknown medicines, according to the Batkivschyna Party.
“Yulia Volodymyrivna [Tymoshenko] fell unconscious immediately after taking the drugs, although she had no prerequisites for this. She was actually in a state of unconsciousness for more than two hours,” the party’s first deputy head, Oleksandr Turchynov, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
He added that Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko had been given drugs to treat an acute viral infection.
Ukraine’s GDP almost 5% up in 2011, says Ukrainian premier
Ukraine’s real GDP growth in 2011 accelerated to almost 5% from 4.2% in 2010, Ukrainian Premier Mykola Azarov said, opening a cabinet meeting in Kyiv on Wednesday.
He said that the balanced monetary policy of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) and the budget policy of the government allowed reaching a record low inflation level in the country – 4.6%.
“Real wages grew by 8.5%, and this is the largest indicator in the CIS states,” Azarov said.
As reported, in the middle of December the Ukrainian premier said that GDP growth in January-November 2011 came to 5.3%. He said that according to tentative assessment, nominal GDP totaled UAH 1.177 trillion, including UAH 119 billion in November alone.
The State Statistics Service of Ukraine published only information on the quarterly pace of Ukraine’s GDP. According to the service, the growth pace accelerated from 3.8% in the second quarter and 5.3% in the first quarter to 6.6% in the third quarter.
Kyiv, Moscow to resolve gas issue in 2012, says Ukrainian premier Azarov.
This year will be decisive in the settlement of gas supply issues with Russia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has said.
“2012 will be decisive in the so-called gas issue. The Russian partners are not willing to change the terms of the gas agreement, they are fully content with them,” the prime minister said opening the meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday.
Azarov stressed that Ukraine and Russia should develop cooperation in the gas sector based on the terms of strategic partnership.
Prison Service head denies Tymoshenko’s fainting in prison
Head of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine Oleksandr Lisitskov has said that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko did not lose consciousness after taking medicines January 6.
“As far as I know, she did not faint… she felt dizzy after her blood pressure dropped,” Lisitskov told reporters on Wednesday.
According to him, on January 6, Tymoshenko was taking shower for about half an hour after which “she felt unwell and asked her inmate to bring a doctor.”
“A duty doctor and a nurse came within four minutes. They measured her pulse, and found that her blood pressure was really low. They gave her an injection and offered to use a drip. Then, within five to ten minutes, the pressure stabilized to about 100 to 60,” Lisitskov said.
On January 10, first deputy head of the Batkivschyna Party Oleksandr Turchynov said that Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was unconscious for over two hours in Kachanivska penal colony in Kharkiv, after she was given unknown medicines. He added that Tymoshenko had been given drugs to treat an acute viral infection.
Yanukovych returns Customs Code to parliament, suggests postponing its introduction for a year
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has vetoed a law on amending the Customs Code adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on November 3, 2011.
In remarks registered in the Verkhovna Rada on December 21, the president proposes postponing the entry of the document into force for a year – until January 1, 2013.
“The adoption of the new Customs Code of Ukraine requires amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine, and other legislative acts, [and also] requires the adoption of a large number of sub-laws. It is impossible to adopt the necessary laws and regulations during the time remaining before the code enters into force,” Yanukovych said.
In addition, the president proposed amending a number of articles of the document, in particular, to lower the limit for the duty-free import of goods into the territory of Ukraine by individuals from EUR 1,000 to EUR 500, leaving EUR 1,000 for checkpoints at airports.