Dismantling of oligarchic economy main goal for 2018, say experts

KYIV – Ukraine can expect to see its economy grow only modestly over the previous year by 2.9 percent, or to $113 billion, if declared, albeit muted, reforms continue, say three Kyiv-based policy centers and an economist in Washington.

Despite Russia’s unprovoked war that Kyiv has managed to contain, the country’s biggest internal national security threat remains corruption from within, they say. It includes existing quasi-monopolies that the oligarch-economic machine has managed to preserve, and a disjointed judicial system that enables the takeover of businesses and land from their rightful owners, domestic or foreign.

Russian shelling from occupied Horlivka damaged a kindergarten in Novoluhanske in Donetsk Oblast on December 18, a day before St. Nicholas Day.

Anti-government protests end in violence

KYIV – Tensions between Ukrainian politician Mikheil Saakashvili and erstwhile ally Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were further strained after the former Georgian leader called on the president to resign in an open letter he published on his Facebook page on December 19.

Canadian Ambassador Roman Waschuk in Kyiv on November 11 stands with his wife, Oksana, and two high-ranking Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who have taken part in helping Ukraine’s police reform, Bruce Kirkpatrick (left) and Orest Hnatkiv (right).

Canadian ambassador draws on all of Canada to boost ties with Ukraine

KYIV – The Ukraine that Canadian Ambassador Roman Waschuk knew while serving as political counselor for his country’s diplomatic corps in 1994-1998 has outlived its legacy.

Back then, Leonid Kuchma was in his first of two terms as president and starting to build the corrupt, oligarchic economic model that the nation’s post-revolutionary government inherited in 2014 and has been replacing incrementally ever since.

Yevhen Fedchenko, director of the Mohyla School of Journalism and co-founder/chief editor of StopFake.org.

Russian propaganda buster Fedchenko keeps going with StopFake group

KYIV – Among the first people to pinpoint that Russia engages in lies on an industrial scale packaged as actual news was Yevhen Fedchenko, 41, director of the Mohyla School of Journalism.

He and his colleagues noticed the practice during the Revolution of Dignity that ended in February 2014. That month, disgraced Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia after leaving behind a dry treasury and a graft-infested, dysfunctional government, along with 100 civilians killed by his law enforcement personnel.

Verkhovna Rada passes more laws to meet IMF and Maidan demands

KYIV – Ukraine’s reformist yet occasionally obdurate legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, moved ahead this week with more bills to further enhance a constantly overdue pro-European agenda on the back of promises of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

A more representative electoral bill was approved in the first of two readings on November 7. It foresees replacing half of the nation’s 225 voting districts, in which single candidates got elected based only on who receives the most votes, with regional political party lists, whereby candidates get elected based on the proportion of votes their party receives.

Odesa-born Amina Okuyeva, 34, an ethnic Chechen, Donbas war veteran and overt critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was fatally shot in the head on October 30 in Kyiv Oblast, allegedly on the orders of the Kremlin. 

Assassinations, abductions show Kremlin’s war on Ukraine extends beyond borders of Donbas

KYIV – A day after an Odesa-born medic and sniper of Chechen heritage who fought in the Donbas war was fatally shot, the Security Service of Ukraine detained the alleged Kremlin-guided assassin of one of their own high-ranking officials.

It was the latest reminder for this war-weary country of 42.5 million people that the conventional battle in the easternmost regions of the Donbas is being waged also nationwide asymmetrically through alleged Moscow-controlled cells of agents, provocateurs and trained assassins.

Acting Health Minister Ulana Suprun reacts in Ukraine’s Parliament on October 19 after reforms she has pushed to overhaul the nation’s health care system were passed by the legislature.

Ukraine’s health care system to get comprehensive overhaul

KYIV – Ukraine adopted a crucial legislative health care package on October 19 that is designed to improve the health of its people and remove Europe’s largest country from the list of nations that have the world’s highest death rates. It is the first comprehensive change to the country’s Soviet-era health care system since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.