You Can Learn A Lot About Ukraine By Watching Its Football

Published in Sport
Tuesday, 11 June 2019 11:31

Ukrainian football, which managed to survive shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, embarked on a new model of development beginning from the 2000s. The start of the new millennium in Ukrainian football was marked by wealthy businessmen and oligarchs buying or gaining control over the clubs, thereby reflecting the developments that had been occurring in the socio-political and economic life of the country.

Ukrainian football has become a favourite toy of Ukrainian oligarchs. On the one hand, it gave a short-term boost to football with the impression of a flourishing future; but, on the other hand, it has led to disastrous consequences, with many clubs ceasing to exist, a reducing in the number of clubs able to perform in the national tournament, the Premier League, and huge fall in attendances at games, among other things. So, when you see football declining, this means oligarchs have less money than before.

"OLIGARCHIZATION" OF UKRAINIAN FOOTBALL

In the early 1990s, Dynamo Kyiv, the most decorated Ukrainian football club, came  under the control of Hryhoriy Surkis, a Ukrainian businessman and politician, and then passed to his younger brother, Ihor Surkis. Rinat Akhmetov, reportedly the richest man in Ukraine, laid his hands on Shakhtar Donetsk FC carrying his team to the biggest success in the history of Ukrainian football in independent times -- victory in the 2007/2008 UEFA CUP tournament.

Other oligarchs have taken the path of these two: Oleksandr Yaroslavskiy, a Kharkiv-based business tycoon, bought Metalist FC from the same city;  Ihor Kolomoyskiy, one of the most scandalous oligarchs, became the owner of Dnipro FC, while allegedly keeping the financial influence over the Kryvbas (Kryviy Rih), Volyn (Lutsk) and Arsenal (Kyiv) football clubs. Other clubs have also fallen under the control of oligarchs. Petro Dyminskiy, a Lviv-based businessman, became the president of Karpaty (Lviv), Kostiantyn Zhevaho, a Ukrainian billionaire, became sponsor of Vorskla (Poltava), Yevhen Heller, a businessman and former MP, started financing Zorya (Luhansk), etc. 

Because of this, football has turned into a game of oligarchic nature, with clubs playing the role of toys in the hands of business tycoons and being overwhelmingly dependent on the financial injections of their owners.

Such a state of play reflects developments within the country. The oligarchic and clannish model that has been prevailing in Ukraine's economic and socio-political life has moved to national football. Clubs have become a tool to "do a little muscle-flexing" and play political games between competing rivals. Moreover, they also served, in some cases, as a source to partially legalize revenues invested in football, which had been obtained while committing allegedly corrupt activities. Successful clubs have also showed that there is a lot of "free money" in the economy that oligarchs invested into sports entertainment.

On the one side, backed by some local successes on the international arena, the rising flow of well-skilled foreign players coming to Ukraine and increase in the number of fans coming to games, it provided an imaginary conviction that Ukrainian football has become as wealthy as European football. 

But, on the other hand, this model showed its key weakness too: total non-resilience amid economic and socio-political hardships that the country may face and great losses that the moguls who own clubs may sustain.  

This trend has become most evident after Euromaidan and the start of Russia's war against Ukraine. The harsh economic situation in the country has hit oligarchs as well: they massively began to give up on their football-related commitments by drastically cutting spending on the clubs they owned or even abandoned them. In such harsh circumstances, oligarchs realized that their clubs had become "suitcases without a handle". As a result, just three years on from 2014, and 20 professional clubs in Ukraine ceased to exist, while many others are eking out a miserable existence. Moreover, many people stopped visiting stadiums, which led to  record-low attendances at stadiums.

WESTERN MODEL: FOOTBALL AS BUSINESS

One of reasons that led to such bad consequences is that, over the years of their functioning, national clubs had failed to profit from football. Despite the fact that wealthy businessmen owned Ukrainian clubs, football has hardly developed as a business. Contrary to the Western model, where football and sports is seen primarily as a business activity, in Ukraine it was perceived, to one extent or another, as a way of competition between dissenting business and political camps.

In the West, the understanding of football as a business is common knowledge. According to the 2018 Football Money League report provided annually by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, revenues of the 20 most-generating clubs reached EUR 7.9 billion in 2016/2017, with England's Manchester United securing its position at the top of the rating with more than EUR 676 million revenue in 2017. By comparison, the budget for the whole Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) tournament in 2018 was UAH 13 million (approximately USD 480,000), as former UPL head Volodymyr Heninson said.

The English Premier League (EPL) has best mastered such a business model. Among the TOP-5 European football leagues, it is first in terms of revenues. In 2017, EPL's revenues came to EUR 5.340 billion, followed by the Spanish La Liga (EUR 2.899 billion) and German Bundesliga (EUR 2.799 billion). Out of the EPL's entire amount of revenue, more than half (EUR 2.910 billion) was generated by TV broadcasting contracts and EUR 1.250 billion was earned due to sponsorship deals and other commercial activities.

Thus, the Premier League remains the most intensely marketed football league in the world. The EPL has the biggest representation in the TOP-10 list of the most valuable brands, with six clubs being there, alongside 2 Spanish clubs, and just 1 German and 1 French. The marketable value of all players that play in the EPL is also record-breaking and reached EUR 8.3 billion. By comparison, the total market value of all the players of Ukrainian Premier League in 2018/2019, was according to Transfermarkt, evaluated at almost EUR 285 million.

The poor condition of national football has on many occasions been confirmed by club owners. In 2009, Oleksandr Yaroslavskiy, the then-owner of Metalist FC, admitted that his club is "a non-performing asset," saying, moreover, that there will be no possibility to make money out of national football in the next 10 years.  Nine years later, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, ex-owner of Dnipro FC, confirmed Yaroslavskiy's words, describing his former football club as a project that leads to losses. "Football [in Ukraine] has almost died," he stressed. In an interview with Viktor Vatsko, one of the most prominent Ukrainian football commentators, in early 2019 Ihor Surkis, President of Dynamo Kyiv, answering the question about the business attractiveness of the club he owns, confessed that only if Dynamo was controlled by a true businessman could it have been seen as an asset capable of generating profit.

Such a trend is confirmed by statistical data. The figures presented by a report by UEFA, the body that runs European football, shows that Ukrainian Premier League clubs suffered losses of EUR 60 million in 2017.

WHAT IS THE WAY OUT

The oligarchic model of football management has been dominant in Ukraine for many years. However, the transformations that have been taking place in Ukrainian football since 2014 may finally become a game changer for the whole sector and lead to its future step-by-step revival.

Financial optimization is one of the tools that may, in the long-term, help Ukrainian football to get back on track. Denys Bosianok, a Ukrainian football commentator, even advocates making football salaries match the real situation in the country

Andriy Kovalenko, in his article for Dilova Stolytsia, predicts that full deoligarchisation and drastic changes in deeply rooted approaches of managing football in Ukraine are key preconditions for the game of millions in the country to begin getting up from its knees. This may, first of all, result in the total decadence of the professional football in Ukraine. However, in the long-run, it might open a new window of opportunities for the clubs, which, after years of stagnation, should realize that living within their means is precisely the way it should be done.

After the rehabilitation, new investors, in cooperation with local authorities and communities, as well as professional football managers, should become the force that will provide a helping hand for a club to survive and develop based on internationally-accepted business models. However, in order for this to become true, the overall economic prosperity of the country should also increase significantly. And the transfer from oligarchic and clannish model in the country's socio-political and economic life is paramount in this regard.

The German model of football management may serve as an example in this situation, subject to certain specifics that Ukrainian football has been living with for years. According to the German legislative framework, at least 51% of shareholders in a club, with some concrete exemptions, should constitute sport communities and football fans. It significantly minimizes the possibility for big moguls, including from those outside the country, to come into German football and establish control over its clubs. On the contrary, this, alongside professional football managers that are involved, provides for maintaining sound economic policy, which allows for profits to be earned from  organizing football with further investment in a club's development. Such a model has already confirmed its feasibility: the German Bundesliga ranks third is in the TOP-5 European leagues in terms of revenues it generates (EUR 2.799 billion in 2017), just slightly behind Spain's La Liga.

Thus, the evolution of Ukrainian football from the oligarchic nature of management to the business model, alongside a rise in living standards in the country, may become the factor that will change the rules of the game and contribute to football getting back on track.

KOSTIANTYN ROMASHKO

Analyst and journalist, Internews Ukraine and UkraineWorld

https://ukraineworld.org/articles/ukraine-explained/you-can-learn-lot-about-ukraine-watching-its-football?fbclid=IwAR20Ypi7MOBg7x21ha2Ro-Sdo6cOUA-kTMi2DooV3OEr99vW08KTn4LMXI8

Europe’s Donbas: How Western Capital Industrialized Eastern Ukraine

Published in World
Saturday, 08 June 2019 12:38

Russian aggression in Donbas in 2014 drew Europe's attention to this forgotten region. We would like to remind you, however, that the industrial potential of Donbas was built up in 19th-early 20th century and thanks in the main to Western European money.

In the 15th-17th centuries, these territories, previously known as the Wild Steppe, became part of the lands of the Ukrainian Cossacks(link to "Why Are Cossacks the Key to Understanding the Ukrainian Nation?"). As a result of the Russian-Turkish wars of the 17th-18th centuries, these lands were fully incorporated into the Russian Empire. Donbas began to be industrialized in the second half of the 19th century.

According to historians, in the late 19th - early 20th century, more than 800 million gold francs from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Switzerland were invested in the economic development of this Ukrainian region. It was part of the Russian Empire at that time.

Cities like Donetsk, Luhansk, Druzhkivka, Yenakiieve, Selidove, Mariupol, Kostyantynivka, Horlivka, Debaltseve, Torez, Kramatorsk, Lysychansk and other cities in the Donbas region received an industrial boost from Europeans during that period.

DONBAS: FOUR SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

In the 19th century, which was when the Donetsk coalfield was discovered (the actual name 'Donbas' only became widespread at the beginning of the 20th century), foreign investment flooded it immediately. The Russian Empire needed new technologies and up-to-date heavy industry to re-equip its military-industrial complex. And in the 1890's Belgium became the first country – an official partner – to create an entire network of coal and steel enterprises, a unified system of rail connections, and even the newest fittings.

Belgian investors put 550 million gold francs in this steppe (and almost desert) region. To recalculate this into today's more, this would be more than 5.5 billion Euro.

Following the Belgians, investors from other European countries came to Ukraine's Donbas. Thus, there were four nominal spheres of influence – the so-called "Belgian province" with its centre in the city of Luhanskthe "German land" in the south of Donetsk Region, the "French region" in its eastern part, and the "English region" in the center.

The Belgians and French owned 90% of the foreign capital in Ukraine's Katerynoslav (now - Dnipro city) province, a large part of which was called Donbas. In 1900, there were about 300 enterprises in Donbas; foreign investors owned most of them. In 1913, the share of foreign capital reached 70% of total coal mining in Donbas and 86% of total ore mining in the Kryvyi Rih basin.

BELGIUM: ⅔ OF ALL INVESTMENTS IN THE COALFIELD

Nowadays, Belgium is a small country, but at that time it was the third biggest nation in the world in terms of its industrial capacity. It had also big colonial ambitions (remember Belgium's Congo in Africa). At the beginning of the 20th century, Belgium was fourth in terms of investment in the Russian Empire and had ⅔ of total investment in the Donetsk coalfield. There was a direct train to Donbas from Brussels.

In 1895, the Russian-Belgian Metallurgical Society was organized in Donbas at the initiative of several Belgian businessmen. In 1914, 31 Belgian companies were already operating there. Ten of them operated in metallurgy, seven – in the mining industry, six – in trams, and five – in producing construction materials and glass.

In Belgium, there were nine provinces at the time, and they called Donbas "the 10th province".

The participation of Belgian investors in the region's development was interrupted by the Bolshevik revolution, which destroyed the concept of "capitalist property"for decades. This fact supposedly became one of the reasons why Belgium recognized the Soviet regime only in 1935.

FRANCE: HUGE INJECTION OF FUNDS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION

The fastest French investments penetrated into the sphere of heavy industry before the Russian Bolshevik revolution. For example, in November 1914, at a meeting of shareholders of the Donetsk-Yuriivsk Metallurgical Society, 36,726 shares were presented. 510 of them belonged to the French, 61 – to Germans, 25 – to Belgians, 75 – to American capitalists, and the remainder belonged to domestic industrialists and bankers. The Alchevsk Iron and Steel Works, as founded in 1895, is one of the most famous enterprises of this society.

Before WWI, according to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Empire, 159.1 million rubles of foreign capital were invested in the coal mining industry of the country. The share held by coal enterprises located in the Donetsk coalfield amounted to 118.6 million rubles, i.e. 74%. French capital invested 82 million of the figure, Belgian 24 million, and the capital of other countries of Western Europe reached 12.6 million rubles.

As for the metalworking and machine-building industry of Ukraine, at that time foreign capital reached 44.6 million Rubles there. Among them, Belgium invested 20.2 million, England – 12.2 million, Germany – 6.7 million, France – at least 5 million, and other countries – 0.5 million Rubles.

DONETSK: A BRITISH CITY WITH EUROPEAN SALARIES

The heart of the "English region" was the village of Yuzivka, which was founded in 1869, which turned into an industrial city after the construction of a metallurgical plant there. Nowadays this British-based city is known as the city of Donetsk.

In 1869, John Hughes, a British mining engineer from South Wales, founded the Russian-British Novorossiysk (Metallurgical) Society of coal, iron and rail production to raise a capital. In 1870, he moved to the Donbas region where he started to build a plant.

In 1872, the first blast furnace was in operation, and soon, despite the difficult start, the company demonstrated huge success. In 1910, John Hughes launched a new progressive production technology, based on anthracite. By that time, it was used only in the United States. In 1913, 74% of iron of the entire Russian Empire was produced in Yuzivka. Initially, the plant employed six thousand workers from the locals, and for 25 years their number had reached 50 thousand people.

At that time, salaries in the Donbas were also European level salaries.

In 1959, during his visit to the USA, the Soviet Secretary General Nikita Khrushchev mentioned that he worked as a mechanic of a machine-building plant in Yuzivka in 1914. Its owner was Edward Boss, an Estonian. The 20-year-old Khrushchev earned 40-45 Rubles a month. In today's figures that is more than one thousand Euros.

KOSTYANTYNIVKA: BELGIAN ARCHITECTURE AND CHEMICAL PLANTS

Kostyantynivka was built by immigrants from Belgium. As a result, this city can also boast Belgian architectural monuments from those times. The entire city infrastructure is a sequel of initial constructions.

Unfortunately, one of the most interesting architectural monuments of the city -- the house of the Gomon -- was destroyedrecently. It was built by JSC Belgian Society of Kostyantynivka's glass and chemical plants in 1902 for the manager of the bottle factory named Gomon. Anyway, the stable near this house is still kept in good condition. The Belgian office has also remained.

The secret of preserving architectural heritage is quite simple. If it is used, its owner maintains it in a decent condition.

LUHANSK: GERMAN LOCOMOTIVES

German investment came preferably to Luhansk Region.

For example, one of the most famous Luhansk enterprises – the Luhansk steam locomotive plant – was founded by the German industrialist Gustav Hartmann in 1896as Russische Maschinenbaugesellschaft Hartmann and renamed Lokomotive factory Octoberrevolution in 1918 after the Russian revolution.

LYSYCHANSK: BELGIAN HERITAGE ABROAD AWARD

At the end of the 19th century, a big part of the city of Lysychansk belonged to the village of Verhnie. Here in 1887 the Belgian engineer Ernest Solve launched the production of soda with his Belgian chemical company Solway and a merchant from Perm called Ivan Lyubimov. Unfortunately, the factory is no longer operational – it was destroyed in 2013 before the very beginning of Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

Along with that, company built houses for factory workers, gymnasium buildings, hospitals, and a church. For example, an up-to-date four-floor hospital in Lysychansk was built by the Belgians.

The Belgians built a total of 33 objects in Lysychansk. 30 of them have been preserved to this day.

In February 2018, the architecture of Lysychanskreceived the Belgian Heritage Abroad Award (2017).

________________________________________________________________

Europeans brought not only the technology of industrial productionto Ukraine, but also business skills, management experienceof large enterprises, connections with banking and industrial groups, and the spirit of capitalist entrepreneurship, thereby contributing to the industrialization of Ukraine.

By the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the Donbas, previously known as "Russian America" and the flagship of industrial Europe, was in a state of decline. The economic ignorance of the Soviet authorities had led to Donbas becoming a backward region in ther 1980s with loss-making production. Today, most of its factories are located on territories occupied by the Russian Federation. Some of them are either ruined or still operate using the equipment installed at the end of the 19th century.

Sources used in this article:

Valentyna Lazebnyk, "Steel in the Steppe. View from Ukraine".

Wim Peeters, "Steel on the steppe".

Materials from the exhibitions "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part I: Belgium" and "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part II: France", organized by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Sources used in this article:

Valentyna Lazebnyk, "Steel in the Steppe. View from Ukraine".

Wim Peeters, "Steel on the steppe".

Materials from the exhibitions "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part I: Belgium" and "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part II: France", organized by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

TETYANA MATYCHAK

 

Congratulatory Letter to the newly elected President of Ukraine

Published in World
Wednesday, 01 May 2019 20:48

On the 1st of May 2019, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has sent a congratulatory letter to the newly elected President of Ukraine Vladimir Aleksandrovich Zelenskiy on his election to the high state post.  

5th Ukrainian Film Festival “Ukraine in Focus” is starting in Tbilisi

Published in Culture
Monday, 29 April 2019 10:00

Modern Ukrainian films will be shown in Amirani during May 2-5, 2019 with English and Georgian subtitles

The 5th Ukrainian Film Festival “Ukraine in focus” is starting in Tbilisi on May 2, 2019. Modern Ukrainian movies will be shown in Amirani Cinema (M. Kostava Street No 36/1) during May 2-5 in original language accompanied with English and Georgian subtitles. Poster and event details are available at Official Facebook page of the festival .

The festival “Ukraine in focus” will be opened with a movie “The Wild Fields” (2018) by director Yaroslav Lodygin on May 2, 2019 at 8 pm in Amirani Cinema. Later, during May 3-5, the following movies will be shown in the frameworks of the festival: “The Gateway” (feature film by director Volodymyr Tikhiy, 2017), “Volcano” (Feature film by director Roman Bondarchuk, 2018), Comedy movie “Hero of My Time” (directed by Antonina Noyabrova, 2018), “When the trees fall” (directed by Marysya Nikitiuk, 2018) and selection of short films - winners of Odessa International Film Festival.

As a tradition of 5 years history of the Ukrainian Film Festival in Georgia, the special program for the young audience was prepared. Children and youth can enjoy the following modern feature movies: “Adventures of S Nicholas” (directed by Semen Gorov, 2018) and “Morshyn’s 11” (directed by Arkadii Nepytaliuk, 2019).   

Tickets for the festival movies can be purchased on biletebi.ge, tkt.ge and kinoafisha.ge with a symbolic price of 1 GEL. Therefore, it is highly recommended to buy tickets in advance to secure the available seats.

In addition to the main festival program, an actor’s workshop for kids from famous Ukrainian actors Irma Vitovska and Daria Polunina will take place on May 4, at 2 pm in Amirani Cinema. This activity without any age restriction will involve children in the magic world of cinema and give the possibility to step in actor’s shoes.

Maria Moskalenko, organizer of the event, states: „Ukrainian Film Festival will be held in Tbilisi for already 5th time, and every year this extraordinary event is visited by movie fans of different age and nationality. This year, modern films of various genres were selected and we hope that each attendant will have an opportunity to watch the show in which he/she is interested, familiarize with the world of the Ukrainian films and take something really special from the festival.”

Organizers of the festival are FX Film Georgia and JS Films. The event will be held with the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, State Agency of Cinema of Ukraine, Embassy of Ukraine in Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall, Georgian National Film Center and Odessa International Film Festival.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=380515422541700 

Ukraine says Russian coast guard fired on vessels in Black Sea

Published in military
Monday, 26 November 2018 10:28

By The Associated Press: Two Ukrainian navy artillery boats and a tugboat were transiting from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.

MOSCOW — The Ukrainian navy said Sunday that Russia’s coast guard opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian vessels and wounded two crew members in the Black Sea following a tense standoff off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine's navy said that two of its vessels were struck and that Russian coast guard crews boarded them and a tugboat and seized them. The Russian Federal Security Service, known as the FSB and which is in charge of the coast guard, said that it has evidence that Ukraine was responsible for the clashes.

"There is irrefutable evidence that Kiev prepared and orchestrated provocations ... in the Black Sea," the FSB said in a statement. "These materials will soon be made public."

There have been growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has steadily worked to increase its zone of control around the peninsula.

Earlier Sunday, Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over another incident involving the same three vessels, prompting Moscow to block passage through the Kerch Strait.

The Ukrainian vessels apparently wanted to travel through the strait to other ports in Ukraine, and Ukrainian authorities said they had given advance notice to the Russians.

The tensions began Sunday morning. Russia's coast guard said that the three Ukrainian vessels made an unauthorized crossing through Russian territorial waters, while Ukraine alleged that one of its boats was rammed by a Russian coast guard vessel.

The Kerch Strait is a narrow body of water nestled between Crimea and the Russian mainland.

The incident began after the Ukrainian navy claimed a Russian coast guard vessel rammed one of its tugboats, which was traveling with two Ukrainian navy artillery boats from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, via the Kerch Strait.

"Russian coast guard vessels ... carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships," the Ukrainian navy statement said. It said a Russian coast guard ship damaged the tugboat's engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.

The statement added that Russia had been informed in advance about the planned journey.

Russia then blocked off the strait.

The Kerch Strait is the only passage into the Sea of Azov beyond it. The strait is crossed by the recently completed Kerch Bridge, connecting Crimea to Russia. Transit under the bridge has been blocked by a tanker ship, and dozens of cargo ships awaiting passage are stuck.

Russia has not given any indication of how long it will keep the strait blocked off, but a long-term closure to civilian traffic would amount to an economic blockade of Ukrainian cities on the Azov coast. And Russia's Black Sea Fleet greatly outmatches the Ukrainian navy.

Ukrainian cities on the Sea of Azov include strategically vital centers such as Mariupol — the closest government-controlled city to Donetsk and Luhansk, the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

The FSB told Russian news agencies Sunday after the first incident that the Ukrainian ships held their course and violated Russian territorial waters. The FSB accused the Ukrainian navy of staging a provocation against Russia.

"Their goal is clear," an FSB statement said — "to create a conflict situation in the region." The statement didn't mention ramming a Ukrainian tugboat.

Though a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in an earlier statement that Russia's actions were a violation of the U.N. Charter and international law, and pledged to "promptly inform our partners about Russia's aggressive actions."

"Such actions pose a threat to the security of all states in the Black Sea region," the statement said, "and therefore require a clear response from the international community."

Dmitry Kiselyov, a commentator on the state-controlled Rossiya channel, told viewers of his Sunday evening news program that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko — encouraged by the U.S. — is looking to pick a fight with Russia in the Black Sea.

The talk show host also said that the U.S. talked Poroshenko into staging a provocation against Russia as a means to disrupt the upcoming meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at this week's Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

"What is happening now at the (Kerch) bridge threatens to turn into a very unpleasant story," Kiselyov warned.

-- The Associated Press

https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2018/11/ukraine-says-russian-coast-guard-fired-on-vessels-in-black-sea.html

 

High level meeting between EU climate and energy projects to take place in Ukraine

Published in Economics
Thursday, 06 September 2018 17:23

Participants of two EU initiatives – the Covenant of Mayors East and Mayors for Economic Growth – will meet for a high-level conference on 20–23 November in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

More than 300 participants are expected from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. They will exchange experiences, best practices and lessons learnt in relation to the implementation of energy efficiency measures and harnessing of economic development of their communities.

Representatives of local public administrations, government officials, community activists and EU representatives will participate in the event. They will also discuss decentralisation initiatives, sustainable use of energy and resources, and climate change mitigation initiatives, as well as ways of straightening cooperation between beneficiaries of EU-funded initiatives in the Eastern Partner countries.

***

Covenant of Mayors East is part of the EU4Energy Initiative. EU4Energy covers all EU support to improve energy supply, security and connectivity, as well as to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine). It does this by financing projects and programmes that help to reform energy markets and to reduce national energy dependence and consumption. Over the long term, this makes energy supply more reliable, transparent and affordable, thus reducing energy poverty and energy bills for both citizens and the private sector.

Poisonous Link - Why Russia’s Crimea Bridge Is Dangerous for Ukraine and the Black Sea Region

Published in World
Monday, 25 June 2018 02:36

On 14 March, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited his last destination in the pre-election tour—occupied Crimea. The first thing he inspected there was the Crimea bridge, a project set to link continental Russia with the newly-annexed territory.

Currently, Russians have to deliver goods and people to the peninsula only via planes, ships or ferries, as there is no connection by land. In order to change this, the Kremlin decided to build a 19-kilometer-long bridge across the Kerch Strait which separates Crimea from Russia’s Krasnodar Krai. The project was agreed in January 2015. The contract for the construction worth $3 billion was signed with SGM Group, which belongs to Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, a close friend of Putin.

In May 2015, construction of the bridge commenced; the road bridge is planned to open on 18 December, 2018, while completion of the rail link has been delayed until the end of 2019. Delays have increased the cost of the project significantly. As of 1 March, 2018, the project’s costs had exceeded $4 billion.

Meanwhile, even at the construction stage, the bridge causes irreversible harm to the ecology of the Black Sea and Azov Sea. Additionally, it also damages Ukraine’s economy and puts political pressure on Kyiv. Here are the major reasons why the Crimea bridge is dangerous for Ukraine and for the entire Black Sea region.

 

The bridge damages Ukraine’s economy

As the Azov Sea is the place where Ukrainian and Russian economic interests intersect, this Russian project will inevitably damage the economy of the region and Ukraine as a whole.

First and foremost, the project of Crimea bridge set limits on the number of ships which head to Azov Sea ports through the Kerch Strait. Konstantin Batozsky, the director of Azov Development Agency, explains to UkraineWorld that all ships longer than 160m, wider than 31m, whose draft is bigger than 8 meters, or are higher than 33 meters, will not physically be able to pass under the bridge. Panamax ships, a popular type of cargo vessels, do not fit in these limits.  “This will limit the amount and range of cargo which could be shipped to and from Mariupol and Berdyansk — Ukrainian Azov Sea ports — significantly,” says Batozsky. For instance, metallurgy products and containers will now have to be shipped through Black Sea ports. This fact means that more money will be spent on the transportation of goods by land, while the infrastructure of the ports in Mariupol and Berdyansk will degenerate. Such a scenario could lead to enormous non-receipt of profits, which would add up to those sums caused by the annexation of Crimea.

Additionally, these limits potentially do not allow Ukraine to potentially launch gas and oil field exploration in the shelf of the Azov Sea. Offshore equipment necessary for the exploration is larger than the limits set by the Crimea bridge, Batozsky points out. As a result, this option for Ukraine to strengthen its energy security is closed.

It is an instrument of Russian aggression against Ukraine

The Crimea bridge is first and foremost a political project, which is aimed to achieve several goals with one shot.

First, it is set to secure the annexation of Crimea. “For Putin, the Crimea Bridge is comparable to the Baikal–Amur Mainline [a major railroad built in the Soviet Union to connect Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East],” says Alim Aliyev, the manager of The Crimea House, in a conversation with UkraineWorld. According to him, Putin intends to use the bridge to show people in Crimea that Russia cares about them. Meanwhile, the bridge would allow Russia to move all kinds of cargo quickly to the peninsula, including military equipment, thus securing the annexation.

Second, Russia, will be able to close the Kerch Strait for all ships. Such a move would effectively turn the Azov Sea into a lake and enable a trade blockade of Ukrainian ports. Russia could use this in number of ways. For instance, the blockade could be leverage to make Kyiv resume energy and water supplies to the peninsula.

It should be noted that Russia’s actions violate the previous agreement between Ukraine and Russia on common use of the Kerch Strait. Russia also goes against the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which says that states bordering straits shall not hinder transit passage and shall inform accordingly about any known threats to navigation in the strait. This potentially gives Ukraine an opportunity to sue Russia, but this has not happened so far. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry did not respond to UkraineWorld comment request regarding this.

It is potentially dangerous for the ecosystem of the Black and Azov Seas

Construction works have already had an effect on the ecosystem of the Black and Azov Seas, says Alim Aliev, the manager of The Crimea House, in a conversation with UkraineWorld. When the bridge is finished, the danger will be even more real.

Due to mud volcanoes, seismic activity and a sludgy bottom, the Kerch Strait is hardly suitable for a bridge. Heorhiy Rosnovsky, a Ukrainian architect who has previously drafted two projects of a Kerch Strait bridge, tells Focus magazine in an interview that Russia has chosen the least viable option to implement the project. He says that the current project does not take all the above-mentioned problematic factors into account, so the chance of collapse is rather high.  The collapse of a massive bridge with wide piers would inevitably slow down water flows between the seas through the Kerch Strait. While construction already results in a change of the living environment for all the organisms in both seas, the bridge’s collapse would be a catastrophe. However, the full scale of the bridge’s influence on the Azov and Black Seas cannot be forecast at the present time.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko announced on 12 December, 2017 that Ukraine will submit an appeal to the countries of the Black Sea Cooperation for an investigation to be carried out of the potential damage of the bridge to the ecosystem. However, as of March 2018 no conclusions had been published.

Few considerations, no regards

There is no doubt that the Crimea Bridge will be completed. Pavlo Kazarin, journalist and observer at Krym.Realii, pointed out in a commentary for UkraineWorld that for Putin this project is one of those cases which prove his imperial ambitions. “It does not matter how much money it will cost, as he [Putin] is the one who allocates the funds. The construction could encounter major delays, but it will be completed eventually,” he emphasized.

Putin’s imperial ambitions and vanity have pushed him to rush the Crimea bridge project. Hopefully, haste and corruption during the construction works will not cause its destruction. However, the damage to the region of the Black and Azov Seas, as well as to the Ukrainian economy, has already been done.

Vitalii Rybak is an analyst at Internews Ukraine and at UkraineWorld, an information and networking initiative.

This article has been first published on ukraineworld.org

http://ukraineworld.org/2018/04/poisonous-link-why-russias-crimea-bridge-is-dangerous-for-ukraine-and-the-black-sea-region/

 

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Nationalism Is on the Rise in Ukraine, and That’s a Good Thing

Published in World
Monday, 18 June 2018 02:58

The Euromaidan revolution and ongoing Russian aggression have united the nation like never before. People of various origins, both Russian and Ukrainian speakers, stood up to the pro-Russian regime of Viktor Yanukovych, and now they resist Russia’s efforts to reimpose influence over Ukraine.

As a result, nationalism is a part of everyday life for the first time. Many people feel national pride and willingness to defend the nation; however, these feelings always have a tinge of ambiguity as they fluctuate between ethnic and civic conceptions of the nation.

Before 2013, the boundaries of belonging were blurred. Many were more preoccupied with economic well-being and survival. It was only before elections that politicians artificially sharpened social divisions around such issues as language, regional identification, and geopolitical orientation to mobilize the electorate.

Post-Maidan Ukraine looks different. Many think that you are Ukrainian irrespective of language or ethnic origins; it’s important that one is loyal to Ukraine as an independent state and political project. This nationalism tries to be inclusive. It attempts to promote liberal and democratic values of freedom, tolerance, diversity, and individual rights.

Civic nationalism has become stronger in recent years.

In 2015, 56 percent of Ukrainians considered the Ukrainian nation as a composite of all citizens. This is 17 percent more than in 2007, according to Razumkov Centre surveys.

 

Also, after the annexation of Crimea many Crimean Tatars moved to mainland Ukraine. New Muslim centers were created, and more women wear headscarves in public. All of this is perceived positively, said Vyacheslav Likhachev, an expert at the Ukrainian Congress of National Communities, “because Crimean Tatars support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and oppose Russia. The level of Islamophobia is falling significantly.”

However, not everyone agrees that civic nationalism is on the rise. “During the revolutionary upheavals in 2014 as well as in 2004, there was the impression that a new civic nation is emerging in Ukraine. But this impression soon waned. In general, Ukraine has not experienced any qualitative changes in terms of nationalism,” said Anton Shekhovtsov, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. However, he recognizes that Ukrainians have greater loyalty toward the state and a stronger civil society, though it still lacks real political influence.

Shades of blood-and-soil nationalism 

It’s almost impossible to find pure ethnic or a pure civic nationalism in today’s Ukraine. The emerging Ukrainian nation has some apparent blood-and-soil elements: some are positive, others are not.

Some ethnic elements are reinforced because of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Rejecting Russian culture, which dominated the Ukrainian space for centuries, many Ukrainians are going back to their roots.

Ukrainian culture is thriving as never before. Traditional folklore motives are more often present in modern music, fashion, theatre, and cinema.

Language is an important sign of belonging. According to the Razumkov Centre, 17 percent of Ukrainians consider speaking the Ukrainian language an important element of belonging to the Ukrainian nation, which is 2 percent more than in 2007.

More radical elements are also on the rise, which is worrisome. Far-right movements were visible during the Euromaidan. Many members of the Azov Regiment—initially a volunteer militia fighting in eastern Ukraine and now a part of the national gendarmerie—support far-right ideology. Earlier this year members of the NGO ‘The Natsionalni Druzhyny’ (National Militia Units), founded by veterans of the far-right Azov regiment, marched in the center of Kyiv.

Despite being more visible, far-right movements do not have wide support. No far-right party managed to meet the 5 percent threshold and enter the Ukrainian parliament during the 2014 elections. According to a recent survey, only around 3 percent would vote for the nationalist party Svoboda and 0.3 percent for the more radical Right Sector.

“The voice of far-right movements is now much louder than before 2013. They attract more members, especially youth. Their slogans are more popular. But they are not among decision-makers,” said Maksym Butkevych, a Ukrainian activist, human rights defender, and coordinator with the No Borders non-profit project.

Some xenophobic elements linger in Ukrainian society.  “Radical nationalism is very weak in Ukraine and does not affect the everyday lives of Ukrainians. Although racism, homophobia, and negative sentiments to Roma are quite widespread in Ukrainian society, the main problem is not individual xenophobic sentiment but the lack of responsibility for public expression of such views. At the same time, Western pressure helps to strengthen the imperative of tolerance in Ukraine,” noted Volodymyr Kulyk, head research fellow at Ukraine’s National Academy of Science’s Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies.

Even still, the new nation built after the Maidan shows many signs of inclusiveness. More citizens believe that people from different ethnic origins or those who speak other languages are their compatriots. A new impulse of affection toward their country is what shapes this greater unity. It is important, however, not to let this affection turn into new thinking that pits “us” against “them.” Nationalism can be civic and liberal, but it can easily turn into its opposite.

Ruslan Minich is an analyst at Internews Ukraine and at UkraineWorld, an information and networking initiative.

This article has been first published at the Atlantic Council

http://ukraineworld.org/2018/04/nationalism-is-on-the-rise-in-ukraine-and-thats-a-good-thing/

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From Medieval State to Inter-war Nationalists: the 5 Most Heated Controversies Over Ukrainian History

Published in World
Monday, 11 June 2018 02:16

Ukraine is a young polycultural state with short-term and interrupted experience of nation building. That is why Ukrainian society often lacks mutual understanding in its perception of national identity and culture. One of the consequences of this problem are the numerous conflicts and controversies over the perception of Ukraine`s past and its meaning for the present.

Controversies over history have traditionally had a huge impact on Ukrainian political and cultural life. Ukrainian politicians quite often refer to history so as to blame opponents or legitimize their own political goals. Furthermore, historical issues turn into a tool of political fighting not only inside Ukraine, but also during diplomatic conflicts with other states.

In this article, we will uncover 5 of the most controversial topics in Ukrainian history, which often fuel political and social confrontations inside or outside of Ukraine.

 

Heritage of Kyivan Rus’: pre-Russian or pre-Ukrainian state

Author: Alexostrov

Kyivan Rus’ – a big and influential medieval state (late 9th – mid 13th centuries) of East Slavic tribes. The battle for the political heritage of Kyivan Rus’ started right from the moment of the state`s collapse, while the struggle for cultural heritage of Kyivan Rus’ between Ukraine and Russia is still a current topic right now. Soviet historians used the highly politicized concept of the «old Russian nation» (from which the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian nations were formed later), which created Kyivan Rus’. This concept isn`t accepted now, either by Ukrainian, or by Russian historians any longer. Instead, both countries are trying to insert the ancient state into their own national historical narrative.

For instance, part of modern Russian history textbooks refused from the traditional term of «Kyivan Rus’» and moved to use the term «Ancient Russian state» (Drevnerusskoye gosudarstvo) so as to deprive this term of any associations with Ukraine. In 2016 a big monument was built in Moscow to Kyiv`s Prince Volodymyr the Great. The design and size of the monument are very reminiscent of Prince Volodymyr`s monument in Kyiv, which was built in 1853 (on photo).

In 2017 during a diplomatic speech in Paris, Vladimir Putin said that French-Russian relations date back to an 11th century French queen whom he called «Russian Anna». Ukraine`s official twitter responded to that by saying that Moscow did not yet exist when Anne de Kyiv married French King Henry I in 1051. This funny twitter feud attracted the attention of several international media outlets.

 

Holodomor genocide question

Author: DixonD

Holodomor – massive artificial famine of Ukrainian peasants in the Soviet Union in 1932-1933. The disclosure of information about the famine played an important role in the activities of the Ukrainian national-democratic opposition during the last years of the Soviet Union.

In independent Ukraine, President Victor Yushchenko (2005-2010) held an active campaign to commemorate the victims of the Holodomor and to raise the level of public knowledge about it. The president tried to establish the perception of Holodomor in similar status to the status of the Holocaust in Europe. For instance, he proposed to install the criminal liability for denial of the Holodomor. This idea was met by massive protests from opposition parties and sparked big political discussion in Ukraine. Besides, Yushchenko tried to make the Holodomor internationally recognized as genocide of the Ukrainian people. During 2005-2010, 14 countries proclaimed the famine of 1933 in Ukraine as genocide. It started significant diplomatic conflicts with the Russian Federation. Moscow tried to convince other states that the famine can`t be called genocide, because all Soviet nations suffered from hunger in 1932-1933.

Despite the fact that political conflicts over the Holodomor`s perceptions are not topical in Ukraine right now, they still could return to Ukraine`s political agenda. In November 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed the idea to provide criminal liability for non-recognition of the Holodomor and the Holocaust.

 

Ukrainian nationalist underground of WWII: fighters for independence or Nazi collaborators

Source: Wikipedia

The organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a Ukrainian inter-war right-wing radical political organization, and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), controlled by OUN, seems to be the most noticeable heroes of the political and military struggle for independence of Ukraine in the 20th century. However, their radical nationalistic ideology, episodes of collaboration with the Nazis and participation in interethnic conflicts made their reputation ambiguous.

Soviet historiography portrayed OUN and UPA as «fascists» and «traitors». Appeals to OUN`s legacy are still actively used by Russian propaganda to portray Ukrainians as nationalists. The word «banderovets» (from the name of OUN(B) leader Stepan Bandera) is used in Russian public discourse as a negative label to tar Ukrainians with.

The figure of Stepan Bandera was turned into a cult one in western Ukraine (the main area of OUN`s activity). More than 40 of his monuments were installed in this region in the course of 28 years of independence.

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko promoted the idea of reconciliation of  Red Army veterans with UPA soldiers and UPA`s legal recognition as veterans of WWII. In response to this, opposition parties established monuments and exhibitions to UPA victims in eastern Ukrainian cities (where UPA actually never conducted any activities) and accused the president of nationalism.

The popularity of OUN and UPA in Ukraine rose after 2014. The veneration and honoring of the WWII nationalist underground, as the the most revealing historical example of an armed struggle by Ukraine with Moscow-led forces in the XX century, increased after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian hybrid war in 2014. In 2015, the Ukrainian Parliament legally proclaimed OUN and UPA as fighters for Ukrainian independence. OUN`s greeting of «Glory to Ukraine! – Glory to heroes!» acquired wide popularity in Ukraine after the Euromaidan events of 2013-2014, because it was actively used by protesters.

Starting from the middle of the 2010-s discussion over the nationalist underground unexpectedly turned to the Polish-Ukrainian one. In 2016 the Polish Parliament officially proclaimed the massacres of 1943 in Volhynia region as genocide of Polish people, organized by UPA. Most Ukrainian historians don’t recognize this definition and emphasize that ethnic cleansing in Volhynia was executed mutually by the Polish and Ukrainian sides. In 2018, Poland introduced criminal responsibility for denial of «the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists». As a result, Ukrainian-Polish relations significantly deteriorated.

 

WWII results for Ukraine: liberation or reoccupation

Author: Віктор Полянко

The concept of the Great Victory in the Great Patriotic War and liberation of Europe by Soviet army became a cornerstone of both Soviet and current Russian identities. At the same time, the majority of Central-Eastern European nations perceive their sufferings in WWII as being victims «between the flames of two totalitarian regimes» since the end of the war marked their dependence on the Soviet Union. Both described strategies of memories about WWII competed with varying success in different public spheres in Ukraine before 2014.

The start of the Russian-Ukrainian hybrid war changed the perception of WWII in Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists actively relied on the Soviet memory model of World War II for the legitimization of their actions. For example, the separatist tanks’ markings «To Kyiv!» echoed the Red Army’s slogan «To Berlin!» Moreover, the Ribbon of Saint George, the main Russian modern commemoration symbol of Victory Day, had become a main symbol of «D(L)NR» separatists, who aimed to portray their war against the Ukrainian army as another war against fascism.

This resulted in the rethinking of World War II commemorations in Ukraine. The Remembrance Poppy (British and American traditional symbol of commemoration of fallen soldiers) shaped as a gunsight with the motto “Nikoly znovu” (Never again) became the new official symbol of Victory Day commemorations from 2014. The symbol shows a will to use Europe-wide forms of commemoration and to replace the triumphal perception of the Great Victory in WWII with victim memory forms, more common in Europe. The Ukrainian National Institute of National Remembrance noted that the «perception of the Second World War as the Great Patriotic War, the revival of the Soviet traditions of celebrating Victory Day is used to restore and strengthen the ideological influence of Russia in post-Soviet space». Ukraine also started to carry out most commemorations of WWII on May 8 instead of May 9, in accordance with European traditions.

Thus, different models of the perception of WWII served the identity of belligerents of the Russian-Ukrainian hybrid war.

 

Soviet regime in Ukraine: occupation or common responsibility

De-Sovietization, which in Ukraine was mostly reduced to the fight against object of Soviet cultural legacy (such as monuments, holidays or street and city names), turned into one of the most noticeable trends in Ukrainian politics and culture from the year 2014. De-Sovietization received legislative implementation in March 2015 when the Ukrainian Parliament adopted the law «On Condemnation of the Communist and National-Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and Prohibition of Their Propaganda and Symbols». The law prohibited the use of Soviet symbols, monuments and street names and introduced liability for «public denial of the criminal nature of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991 in Ukraine, the national-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regime».

Experts of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, a body of the central executive and the main promoter of the Law, called de-Sovietization one of the key tasks of democratic transformation. UINP Director Volodymyr Viatrovych defined the Soviet regime in Ukraine as occupational and named his main official task as transforming the Institute into a «national instrument for the overcoming of the totalitarian past».

This approach faced protests among a section of scholars and public figures. For instance, in April 2015, a group of more than 50 influential foreign and Ukrainian scholars wrote a joint letterasking President Poroshenko not to sign the law so as to keep politicization away from history. Critics of the law stressed that it doesn`t provide any recognition of Ukraine`s participation in the formation of the Soviet Union. For instance, historian Georgiy Kasianov notes that Ukraine, in fact, «was one of the builders of this Soviet empire». Critics of the law also noted that the law could complicate the analysis of achievements of Ukrainian industry, education or culture during a 70 year-long period of history, since the law accepts liability for academic works.

Despite the fact that the majority of current de-Sovietization activities didn`t receive considerable protests, conflicts over the re-naming of some cities with Soviet names (for instance, Komsomolsk) or low level of support of UINR`s initiative for cancellation of the holiday on March 8th (tradition with Soviet origin) show that Ukrainian society may not accept the full refusal and alienation of Soviet legacy.

Moreover, an important question remains whether current De-Sovietization is not only a superficial process of the fight against symbols or names, while the deep roots of communist legacies (patrimonialism in political culture; low level of development of democratic institutions; influence of former party nomenclatura; Soviet structures and approaches in science, culture and art, etc.) still remain powerful in Ukraine even today.

Prepared by Andriy Liubarets for UkraineWorld group (ukraineworld.org). Andriy Liubarets is an analyst at Internews Ukraine. 

This article has been first published on ukraineworld.org 

http://ukraineworld.org/2018/03/from-medieval-state-to-inter-war-nationalists-the-5-most-heated-controversies-over-ukrainian-history/

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Fighting For Equality: What Does It Mean To Be a Woman In Today’s Ukraine

Published in World
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 12:25

8th of March is an International Women’s Day, founded 100 years ago by the feminists of New York. Although many positive changes happened since that time, the mere fact that women still have to celebrate it with marches means there are more things to fight for. Ukraine is a unique country regarding the rights of woman: soviet ideology made her socially equal to man (at least on paper, which does not always mean real equality), at the same time private life was shadowed and family became a closed bubble. Ukraine has lower rates for violence against women if compared to average European. Yet the stereotypes do not give an opportunity to see the real numbers, which might be higher. Let us take a closer look at the challenges of Ukrainian women.

In average 33% of women in Europe experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner and/or a non-partner since the age of 15, FRA reports. In Ukraine this percent is lower – 19% woman in the age from 15 to 49 experiences at least one form of physical or sexual violence, UN Women Ukraine reports.

Recent research demonstrate that 80%-90% of Ukrainians do not tolerate gender-based violence and domestic violence. 77% of respondents answered “no” to the suggestion “if husband wants sex, wife has to obey, because it is her duty” (women -88%, men – 73%). 92% of respondents think that women should not tolerate in any way inappropriate touches from strangers, (95% – women, 93% – men). 86% of respondents do not think if a woman complains that her husband is beating her, she is guilty herself (90% – women, 81% – men). 85% do not think that rape is a fault of a woman-victim (81% – women, 90% – men).

According to the same research, militarization, war and numerous acts of violence that happened since late 2013 had effect on the issue: 39% of the militaries that signed the contract after demobilization would not want police to interfere in family fights or acts of violence between the spouses. Meanwhile the majority of the veterans and militaries supported the help of the law enforcers in the violent situations in families and do not think that hursh experience in war zones is an excuse for violence at home.

This year Ukraine made a significant move towards fighting violence against women: domestic violence was criminalized by the new Law “On Prevention and Counteraction to Domestic Violence.” The document provides for the introduction of an integrated approach to combating domestic violence, according changes to the Criminal and Criminal Procedural Codes of Ukraine implement the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). It criminalizes domestic violence, gives a broader definition of rape in line with international standards.

“The new law gives much more powers to the law enforcers, police, in order to protect victims of domestic violence. It also introduces temporary restraining orders, enlarges a membership of the authorities who are obliged to prevent and fight against violence, those are medical and educational authorities, courts, public prosecution service, and others, who never had such obligations before,” comments to UkraineWorld Kateryna Levchenko, Governmental Commissioner on Gender Policy at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. “The new law also has negative parts, I’m pointing out on the Unified Register of Domestic Violence Cases and Gender-Based Violence, as it will become a tool for further victimization and stigmatization. This Register should also be supplied with the contacts of the person who reported on the act of violence, which might result in persecutions.”

So far new law on violence against woman does not include definition “gender”. “So far ukrainian society is far from accepting “gender” even as a word in legislation. MPs see it as a step towards legitimization of sex reassignment surgery, or same-sex marriages. The believe that that all will threat traditional Ukrainian society,” tells UkraineWorld Olga Dunebabina, La-Strada Ukraine representative. “There is an actual fear that gender equality will ruin “traditional ukrainian family”. Unfortunately, church is also on the side of the politicians.”

According to the UN Office in Ukraine 4.4 million of people are affected by the war, 1.6 are internally displaced, 3.4 require humanitarian assistance and protection. Yet, despite the fact of these numerous violations of human rights, Ukrainian women still have not had access to decision-making roles concerning conflict resolution. “Their voices are continuously silenced and marginalized in political peace dialogue process,” states UN Women Ukraine.

Yet, some positive changes do happen even in the war-torn Donbas. Earlier this year first Center for Social and Psychological Assistance to People Affected by Violence or Ill-Treatment was opened in Slovyansk. The Center will become a safe place where women who were affected by various forms of violence will get psychological, social and legal support.

UN Women Ukraine report that it will take over 50 years to achieve gender equality in Ukrainian politics. Although, temporary special measures can help expedite the process, that is positive discrimination like reserving senior positions for women. For now only 12% of MP’s are women. Yet, Ukrainian prominent politicians like Ulyana Suprun, Minister of Health, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice-Prime-Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Liliia Hrynevych, Minister of Education and Science, not only prove the ability for women to get the highest places in society, they also are the promoters for their rights in different aspects of life,  from medicine to education, business and politics.

Just recently magazine “Novoye Vremya” published the list of top-100 women in Ukraine, demonstrating their success in all the industries. Women also play increasingly bigger roles in business, journalism, NGO sector and activism in Ukraine, which is truly inspiring.

On December 22, 2017 Ministry of Health of Ukraine invalidated the Decree № 256 “On Approval of the List of Heavy Work and Work in Harmful and Dangerous Working Conditions Which Forbid the Use of Labor of Women” from December 29, 1993. This granted women’s access to all 450 occupations previously prohibited by the Decree.

The differences in wages, though, does exist in Ukraine. Women receive about 80% of the amount given to men on that same positions almost in all industries. This leads to the further discrimination in pensions.

In February 2018 Ukraine began its three-year chairmanship at the UN Human Rights Council. Ukrainian President tweeted, that this opportunity will be taken to protect human rights around the globe, in Ukraine and specially on the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea. In the meanwhile government and NGOs are doing their job to protect the vulnerable, all of the Ukrainian society has to face the fact of existing violence and discrimination and stand against it.

Prepared by Anna Kyslytska for UkraineWorld group (ukraineworld.org)

This article has been first published on ukraineworld.org  

http://ukraineworld.org/2018/03/fighting-for-equality-what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-woman-in-todays-ukraine/

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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