Hello this is Ukraine Calling. A weekly roundup of what’s been happening in Ukraine, with a focus on a main issue, by UDI Associate Marta Dyczok for Hromadske Radio in Kyiv. Here are the headlines that caught Marta’s attention this week.
This week’s news began with Donald Trump’s shocking statement that he might look at recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, his odd commentary that Putin was not in Ukraine, and then blaming Obama for that whole part of the world being a mess. Meanwhile, war continued on Ukrainian territory. Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed over the past seven days, and twenty five were injured.
Last week the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported a 25% increase in hostilities.
Pilot-turned MP Nadiya Savchenko announced that she was going on a new hunger strike this Tuesday. That she would not eat until all war prisoners were released.
Hromadske Radio’s leaders travelled to the area near the war last weekend, to the town Volnovakha. They met with listeners, potential listeners, city officials, and local journalists. CEO Andriy Kulykov said that shelling could be heard, and that while people have adapted, they want peace.
Sadly, war seems to have become the new normal in Ukraine. We’ll bring you more on that with expert commentary by Professor Olexiy Haran and Journalist/Analyst Brian Whitmore later in the show.
Two high level officials from the previous Yanukovych regime made the headlines in Ukraine this week. Oleksander Yefremov was detained in Kyiv’s Boryspil airport on Saturday, as he was attempting to leave the country. He once headed up the Regions Party parliamentary faction, that’s the party of former now fugitive President Yanukovych. Yefremov is facing charges of embezzlement of state funds, inciting hatred, and taking actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The other name from the past that reappeared in the news this week was Mykola Azarov. He was Yanukovych’s Prime Minister from 2010 through January 2014. This week was called in for questioning by Ukraine’s new Prosecutor’s Office. The case is about embezzlement of state funds in the gas sector. It’s unlikely that Azarov will show up in the Kyiv Court, since he fled to Russia along with Yanukovych back in 2014. His international assets have been frozen, Interpol put him on their wanted list. Azarov’s son, Oleksiy, has also been summoned.
Three judges were dismissed this week by President Poroshenko, on the recommendation of the Supreme Justice Council. Natalia Maltseva and Natalia Spasova from Donet’sk, and Vladyslav Oberemko from Kyiv, were all accused of breach of oath.
Single Registry for IDPs created
A new single registry for internally displaced people was launched on the first of August by Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy. The aim is to centralize information about those displaced from Crimea and the Donbass. Until now, lists were kept by various authorities. This led to confusion, and occasional double dipping of state services. Now the Ministry is creating an electronic database to better serve those in need, although this is still in the trial phase.
Stepan Bandera Avenue in Kyiv now Official
And it’s now official – Kyiv has a Stepan Bandera Avenue. You’ll remember in July Ukraine Calling reported that City Council had voted to rename Moscow Avenue, and that the Kremlin protested. But Kyiv’s mayor was away on vacation. This week Vitaliy Klychko returned, signed the decision, and made it official.
Last Sunday US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump made even more waves than usual. In an ABC TV interview he suggested that he might ‘look at’ recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and that he, meaning Russian President Putin, was not in Ukraine. Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, war continues, and appears to be escalating, but is no longer making international headlines. To speak about these issues we have
In studio with us is Olexiy Haran, Professor of Political Science, National University of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and Heard of Research, Democratic Initiatives Foundation.
And joining us from Prague via skype is Brian Whitmore Senior Russia Analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague. He is the author of The Power Vertical Blog and host of The Power Vertical Podcast, both of which focus on Russian affairs.
Thank you both for joining us.
Culture and Music
Something that has struck me about Ukraine since the war began in 2014, is that despite being under attack, people here continue to make music and sing. This week I’d like to share 2 songs with you. Both deal with the issue of war. One was written and recorded by Bohdan Koval’chyn, a young man from Drohobych who was sent to the front. He wrote a song called Seperatiuha and hoped that a musician friend of his would perform it, but ended up performing it himself. The other is by a band called Plotnik82, called ‘Rodiny net vo mne,’ which means I don’t have a homeland. It’s a song from the other side of the front. Both song were played on Hromadske Radio’s weekly music show Pora Roku. http://hromadskeradio.org/programs/pora-roku/pora-roku-efir-za-31-lypnya
Ukraine’s athletes will be competing for gold in Rio in the coming days. Before leaving for the Olympic Games, the 205 athletes held a parade in central Kyiv, and lay flowers in memory of Ukrainian soldiers who have died in the war zone. Ukraine placed 14thin the last Olympic Games in London in 2012. This year they’ll be competing in synchronized swimming, fencing and kayaking events for the first time. We’ll be watching how they do, and all the other news. Tune in next weekend for a new episode of Ukraine Calling. I’m Marta Dyczok in Kyiv. Let me know what you think, our new e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening.