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Ukraine

Yearbook 2016

Ukraine. When Ukraine's free trade agreement with the EU entered into force at the New Year, Moscow halted its import of Ukrainian food. According to countryaah, this in turn led to Kiev banning imports from the Russian Federation of a number of basic foods.

2016 Ukraine

In February, the government crisis erupted, when the Minister of Economy resigned in protest that he had not undergone reforms to fight corruption. A series of scandals had been revealed, involving ministers, among others, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) threatened to withhold large loans unless corruption was fought. The Deputy State Prosecutor resigned on charges that his boss prevented corruption. President Petro Poroshenko intervened and called on both the Prosecutor General and Prime Minister Arsenij Jatsenjuk to step down to restore confidence in the government. Jatsenjuk refused, and when Parliament voted in disbelief, the votes were not enough to cast him.

In March, a Russian court sentenced the Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadija Savchenko to 22 years in prison accused of killing two Russian journalists. She claimed innocence. Later, she was released and exchanged for two Russian soldiers who were arrested and sentenced to prison for war against Ukraine. Savchenko took a seat in the Ukrainian parliament after being elected during his prison term.

In March, Parliament voted for the Prosecutor General. This had been seen from the West as an obstacle to the fight against corruption in Ukraine. In April, Prime Minister Jatsenjuk gave up and left his post.

Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Hroisman, 38, described as Western-oriented and allied with President Poroshenko, was proposed as new Prime Minister. He was approved by Parliament with 257 votes to 50. Hroisman's own party, Petro Poroshenko's block, and Jatsenjuk's party the Popular Front voted for him, but votes were also needed from oligarch-linked opposition parties, which prompted some critics to talk about oligarchs.

The IMF withheld the next disbursement of the $ 17.5 billion aid package pending government action. Three votes were required in Parliament before Hroisman's reform plan was approved. Western allies were concerned that several experts and reformers from the previous government were not left under Hroisman. This was mainly the case with former Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who had a high reputation among international lenders. New Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyljuk, former Chief of Staff of President Poroshenko.

However, Hroisman said he saw corruption, inefficient governance and populism as threats equivalent to "the enemy east of our country". He also promised to continue rapprochement with the EU, despite a Dutch referendum during the year saying no to the EU-Ukraine cooperation and free trade agreement.

The demands were high on Hroisman to crack down on corruption. Shortly before his accession, through the so-called Panama documents, accusations had been made against his trusted President Poroshenko for hiding assets in mailbox companies in tax havens. Poroshenko denied that he tried to avoid tax, but the head of the tax authority said that the information would be examined.

Poroshenko wanted to appoint a politically allied new prosecutor, even though he was not a lawyer. He was criticized for this, including from the EU, and was invited to appoint an independent lawyer who can build confidence in the fight against corruption. However, Poroshenko's candidate, former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, was approved by Parliament.

In May, the OSCE accused both the military and the separatists in eastern Ukraine of extensive violations of the Minsk ceasefire agreements. According to the OSCE, violence had again reached alarming levels, and many casualties were required both among civilians and military. Negotiations for a permanent peace agreement failed again, and in July the death toll was more than one year, according to the OSCE. In August, a new ceasefire agreement was concluded, but it was broken, and in September there were a record number of violations of the ceasefire agreements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, the same month, Ukraine and the separatists signed an agreement to withdraw troops there.

According to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, the killing of civilians in the Donbass region since 2014 can be termed war crimes.

A well-known investigative journalist, Pavel Sjeremet, was murdered in July in Kiev with a car bomb. With its critical reporting, the Sherem had irritated the regimes in both Belarus and the Russian Federation as well as Ukraine. A Deputy Minister of Information resigned and accused the authorities of not doing enough to protect journalists who were exposed to increasing threats. Among other things, a site on the Internet had published information about journalists who were accused of cooperating with Russian-backed separatists and who were then threatened.

In August, President Poroshenko gave the military orders for highest readiness after information on Russian troops reinforcements with advanced anti-aircraft robots to Crimea and increased troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border in the east. Russian maneuvers were carried out in the Black Sea and Crimea.

International investigators found in September that it was a Russian-made missile used against the Malaysian passenger plane that was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. The missile must have been fired from the village of Permovajskyj in eastern Ukraine, controlled by Prorian separatists. Moscow rejected the charges.

IMF demands for greater transparency in management and finances led to a prominent list of politicians' financial assets published on the Internet. Prime Minister Hroisman and other power-holders accounted for huge amounts of money stored in cash in Ukrainian conditions without the knowledge of the tax authorities.

Georgia's former President Michail Saakashvili resigned in November from his post as governor of Odessa, declaring that he would head a new political force that will drive a change of power in Ukraine.

In November, the IMF ruled that Ukraine was not yet ready for a new disbursement of the aid package. In order to gain access to new loans, the government must, among other things, increase efforts against corruption and adopt a credible budget for 2017, it was called.

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