2015 was a year of contrasts for Ukraine. This year’s journey to fulfilling the promise of Euromaidan was laden with victories and betrayals. Or, to put it in Ukrainian: one year between “Peremoha” and “Zrada.” The Euromaidan Press team took a look at the past year to try seeing what we had of more.
Deadly Russian attack on Mariupol kills 30
In 25th of January pro-Russian separatists forces used artillery against the block-posts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as well as against one of the city districts of Mariupol, in Donetsk Oblast. In the end of the day, 30 people including children were killed, 93 injured. The city was released from “Donetsk People’s Republic” forces in summer 2014, so that the attacks came out of the blue for civilians.
Mariupol is strategically important city for Russia as it is located just on the way to occupied Crimea, so that the corridor to the peninsula can be built through it. Also there is a harbor and several metallurgical plants in Mariupol. The situation bear Mariupol remains
PACE suspends Russia’s right of vote and calls to Free Savchenko
On January 26, PACE demanded that Russia frees all political prisoners, including PACE member from Ukraine Nadiya Savchenko. The Ukrainian pilot was then 44 days into her hunger strike against being kidnapped to Russia and held in detention on trumped-up charges. After Russia’s refusal to do so, PACE suspended Russia its right to vote in the Assembly and extended EU sanctions against Russia.
Ukraine adopted sanctions against Russia and declared the country an aggressor on January 25.
Battles of Debaltseve take lives and lead to loss of Ukrainian territory
The region of the city Debaltsevo became the hottest spot in Ukraine in February. There is an important railway junction in the area. Debaltseve is almost surrounded by occupied territories of “Donetsk People’s Republic” from the one side and “Luhansk People’s Republic” from the other. Since the end of January and in February, separatists actively fired shells to nearby territories using artillery, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems “Grad” and “Uragan”, expecting to make a mousetrap and to capture the international road E-40 between Luhansk and Donetsk which served as a “road of life” for civilians and which was used to provide help to Ukrainian soldiers. In the end, separatists entered the city, they destroyed the railway junction and fired shellings even to civilian areas. In February 18, after fierce fights Ukrainian forces started to leave the city. According to the official data, 179 Ukrainian soldiers die in the fightings for Debaltseve.
In the end, Ukrainian Army evacuated from Debaltseve.
|E-procurement system ProZorro makes government purchases transparent
The first version of e-procurement system ProZorro (the pilot project) launched by the Ministry of Economy appeared. So far the system still works in beta version, however for the moment 2,200 customers have been already tapped into it and 34,000 tenders for $ 6.5 bn have been conducted saving $502 mn. Now the Ministry is working on the law on implementation of the project across the whole country.
|Minsk agreements do not work
The Minsk-2 peace agreement took place in February. A clear list of required actions on resolving the conflict was signed by the sides of the conflict and certified by Russia, Germany and France, and later – the United Nations has gained international status. Now the parties are have a responsibility not only to each other but also to Europe and the United Nations. The text of agreement is putting Ukraine in uncomfortable conditions because of several points. Just after signing the agreement Ukrainian side started reporting on every day violations of the ceasefire regime from the side of pro-Russian separatists forces.
3G Internet launches in Ukraine
MTS Ukraine, Kyivstar and Life, Ukraine’s biggest telecom operators announced their plans on entrenchment in Ukraine as in February they received the license for it.
Pro-Russian journalist murdered, two volunteer fighters accused despite lack of evidence
On 16 April 2015 journalist and writer Oles Buzyna was shot dead at the entrance of his home in Kyiv. A few hours after the attack Russian President Vladimir Putin already knew the details of this murder, as he commented at his press conference broadcasted live. Despite a special plan of interception in hot pursuit, Ukrainian police failed to capture the attackers. Two months later, Ukraine’s police arrested two volunteer fighters, Medvedko and Polishchuk, which are being held despite lack of evidence in what some commentators have called a politically motivated trial.
International experience for the Ukrainian Army
Ukrainian Army started to take part in the the six-month Operation Fearless Guardian, where nearly 300 paratroopers from the US army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade had joint exercises with 900 Ukrainian soldiers in Yaroviv near the Polish border. For the first time, the Ukrainian National Guard received an opportunity to learn from the Western colleagues.
One year later, no transparent investigation of May 2 Odesa fire tragedy
On the first-year anniversary of the tragic fire in Odesa’s trade union building on 2 May 2014, human rights groups accuse Ukrainian authorities of negligence and intransparency in investigating the events leading to 42 deaths in a standoff between pro-Russian and pro-unity demonstrators. The International Advisory Panel of the Council of Europe reiterated those accusations in November, stating that the investigation of May 2014 events in Odesa failed to comply with requirements of European Human Right Convention.
Dnipro football club makes it to European League Final
Ukrainian football team “Dnipro” from Dnipropetrovsk made it to the 2015 UEFA Europa League Final. The final game was held in Warsaw, Poland. “Dnipro” played against Spanish “Sevilla.” Despite the fact that “Dnipro” lost with the score 2:3, all the country was celebrating the high results of the Ukrainian club.
Ukraine celebrates day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for first time
Breaking with the Soviet interpretation of the “Great Patriotic War,” Ukraine, in line with the European tradition, honors the memory of victims that died in WWII. During celebrations, the famous roofer Mustang Wanted crowns the Soviet statue of Mother Motherland with a Ukrainian wreath of poppies, the international symbol of remembrance.
LGBT pride march attacked by far-right thugs in Kyiv
After receiving threats, the organizers of Kyiv’s LGBT second ever pride march decided to hold it far from the center of the city without disclosing the exact location. Nevertheless, they were attacked by far-right militants with gas grenades. Five police officers suffered injuries, one was placed into intensive therapy.
Administrative center in Odesa leads fight against bureaucracy
The creation in Odesa the first in Ukraine Center for providing administrative services of the new format, where citizens are able to get the whole list of administrative services quickly and without bribes was announced. The center started to work in October.
This followed the appointment of Mikheil Saakashvili as Odesa’s governor.
|Conflict in Mukacheve involves volunteer fighters, police, and figures of Ukraine’s contraband market
A shootout took place in Mukacheve, a city in Western Ukraine, between members of the Right Sector and police officers. The commentators say that one of the important aspects of this shootout is a showdown between local clans for the contraband cigarette market. However, similar confrontations are not new in Ukraine. What is new is that a serious conflict has been incited with grenade launchers, the burning of police cars, and other things that create quite an image for mass media — especially the Russian ones.
Ukraine launches creation of National Police as part of law enforcement reform
In the middle of 2015, Ukraine started implementing a law enforcement reform. Since July, the first patrol police in Ukraine started to work in Kyiv, later it appeared in several regions of the country. Replacing the militsiya, a new institution was created – the National Police.
Protests in Kyiv against changes to Ukraine’s constitution lead to fatalities among National Guards
Violent protests took place by the Verkhovna Rada (the building of the Ukrainian parliament) on August 31, three National Guards were killed, and several dozens of servicemen, as well as protesters themselves, were wounded. The 3,000-strong protesters, led by far-right party Svoboda, demanded from the parliament not to endorse amendments to the Ukrainian constitution regarding decentralization and the special status of Donbas. The main point of controversy was the vague definition of amnesty to the (pro)Russian militants of the occupied regions of Ukraine.
Ukraine secures 20% write-down of its debt
After five months of negotiations, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko announced 27 August 2015 that negotiations with Ukraine’s principal creditors have agreed to a $3.8 bn haircut of Ukraine’s debt and extended deadlines for repaying the remaining sum. “This is real money, that today we can put to work to reinvigorate Ukraine’s economy,” Jaresko praised the deal.
Dutch referendum endangers EU-Ukraine association agreement
On 28 September, the Dutch satirical blog GeenStijl managed to collect the 450,000 signatures necessary for putting the question of the EU-Ukraine association agreement on a nationwide referendum. While the arguments of the eurosceptic populists leading the campaign have little to do with Ukraine, the outcome of the referendum could have serious consequences for the country, placing the Association Agreement on a second vote in the Dutch Parliament and potentially leading to disrupting the Agreement and Ukraine’s European aspirations which sparked the Euromaidan.
Crimean Tatars and activists start blockade of Crimea
Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine announced in a parliamentary session in Kyiv that Crimean Tatars would block all trucks carrying goods into Russian-annexed Crimea on September 20.
The food blockade soon turned into an energy blockade, culminating in a total blackout of Crimea on 22 November after power pylons were destroyed in the bordering Kherson Oblast.
On 8 December Ukraine resumed providing electricity to Crimea at a fraction of the pre-blockade quantities. The Crimean Tatar leader Refat Chubarov explained this as a temporary two-week measure until the termination of the electricity supply contract between Ukraine and Crimea.
Henadiy Korban’s detention sparks accusations against Poroshenko of persecuting political enemies
As the fight against corruption gets sidelined by the persecution of Poroshenko’s political enemies, Ukrainians fearfully recollected the Yanukovych regime when on the morning of October 31st, Hennadiy Korban, one of the Dnipropetrovsk-based UKROP party leaders, was detained by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). On the same morning of October 31st, a motorcade filled with around 100 vehicles reached President Poroshenko’s residence. AutoMaidan claims the presidential residence was guarded by “titushkas” (recruited hooligans) and riot police squads, and the road was deliberately blocked by private cars. The significant detail of the case is that Korban has been was detained just in the middle of local election process in Ukraine.
Documentary “Maidan” wins grand prize at International human rights festival
The documentary Maidan, depicting the events of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution, has won the grand prize at the Nuremberg International Human Rights Festival, as reported on the festival’s website. The film director Sergey Loznitsa received the Grand Prix on Tuesday, October 6, along with the cash prize of EUR 2,500.
|Local elections return old powers to administrations
Local election in Ukraine have led to power many old faces from ex Party of Regions (the party of exiled Viktor Yanukovych). Now they are hiding under different political forces. Two cases can describe the situation with elections in Donbas. This year elections were run twice in two cities of Ukraine – Mariupol and Krasnoarmiysk. The results in Mariupol gave victory to the independent candidate self-nominated Vadim Boychenko who is also associated with the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. In Krasnoarmiysk, the victor in the mayoral race was Ruslan Trebushkin, the ex-mayor of a neighboring city in Donetsk the region. Trebushkin previously called the new Ukrainian government a “junta” and spoke about the annexation of Crimea as if he was thankful to Putin “for all that he did.”
Ukraine on Euro-2016
The result 1:1 in game against Slovenia in the play-off of the qualification round for Euro-2016 made the Ukrainian team a participant of continental Championship. For the first time in history, Ukraine won a ticket for European Championship. It participated in Euro-2012 as the country which organized a tournament that year.
Unexpected new faces in local administrations, protests against fraud
Though the local elections saw the return of old powers, there are incidents that give reason for optimism. New faces in local administrations like IT director appointed as mayor of Mykolayiv, Frenchman Mykhailo Tereshchenko appointed mayor of Hlukhiv gave hope for Ukraine’s modernization. Also, protests against election fraud gathering thousands of residents in the central Ukrainian town of Kryvyi Rih show that people in a historically passive region will not settle for an imitation of democracy anymore.
Political fighting in Ukraine gets ugly and funny
In less than a week, Ukraine’s politicians got into two fights: first, on 11 December, PM Arsenii Yatseniuk got crotch-lifted out of the rostrum of Ukraine’s parliament while delivering an annual cabinet of ministers report on anti-corruption, tax reform, energy and next year’s budget. On 14 December, Odesa Oblast governor Saakashvili got into a water-spilling fight with Interior Minister Avakov. Apart from generating loads of negative headlines, these fights signal that Ukraine’s politics are still dominated by clan wars and suggest that a reload of the political elite is inevitable.
Free visa regime for Ukrainians
In December 18th, the European Commission presented the final report on Visa Liberalization Action Plan for Ukraine. Due to the report, Ukraine has fulfilled all requirements for lifting visa regime.
Revolutionary civil service law passed in full
Partially thanks to the efforts of civic activists, Ukraine adopted a law crucial for reforming its corrupt and bloated bureacratic system. If implemented properly, the law could bring lead to reducing political influence on civil servants, and transparent appointments to top positions, boosting the effectiveness of Ukraine’s government and implementation of reforms.