KYIV – An independent report by the European Union’s (EU) independent outside auditor of finances said the 27-member state body’s reform assistance to Ukraine has proven ineffective “in fighting grand corruption” and establishing the rule of law.
The damning report, published on September 23 by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), stated that the 12.2 billion euros in various forms of assistance and loan guarantees provided to Ukraine since 2014 have “not delivered the expected results.”
KYIV – Two Ukrainian corruption-fighting agencies are reviewing the asset declarations of the president and head of the country’s main counterintelligence agency, as well as the financial transactions of a bank related to them following the biggest leak ever of offshore financial records.
A trove of 12 million files from 14 corporate service providers who cater to clients in financial secrecy jurisdictions was leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which show that 38 Ukrainian politicians use the providers to conceal their wealth and assets. The leak has been dubbed the Pandora Papers.
On September 22, someone fired shots at the car of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s first aide, Serhiy Shefir. The attack unfolded near the village of Lisnyky, outside Kyiv. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, more than 10 bullets hit Mr. Shefir’s vehicle, wounding the driver, but Mr. Shefir himself escaped injury (Ukrinform.net, September 22). Anton Geraschenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian internal affairs minister, asserted that those who organized and executed the attack on Mr. Shefir’s car planned to kill everyone in the vehicle (Zn.ua, September 23).
Interest in privatizing space operations by Western companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic has now reached the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, which, for the moment, is focused on technological payloads rather than manned spaceflight. Unfortunately for advocates of Ukraine’s aerospace capabilities, on September 3, a Ukrainian-American rocket exploded two minutes into a test flight launch from Vandenberg Space Base in California (Channel 9, September 3).
KYIV – In what at first appears to be a recreational park in the northwestern part of Ukraine’s capital, lined with tree-canopied serpentine trails, as well as a nestled playground for children, is the site of one of the biggest atrocities of the Holocaust in the country. Nearly 34,000 Jews were executed in the sprawling area of about 200 hectares (494 acres) in the span of just two days on September 28-29, 1941, by invading German military personnel during World War II. The Nazi administration of Kyiv had issued a directive that infamously ordered Jews in the city and the surrounding area to gather their valuable belongings and identity credentials to assemble near the site, called Babyn Yar, or in English Old-Woman’s ravine. They were to arrive by 8 a.m. on September 28 of that year near the Lukianivka freight station “according to rumors for deportation,” historians Vladyslav Hrynevych and Paul Robert Magocsi wrote in “Babyn Yar History and Memory” that was published in 2016. By the time Soviet forces retook Kyiv in fierce battles two years later, approximately 100,000 people had been murdered at the sites, the majority of whom were Jews, who were targeted solely because of their ethnicity.
LVIV – With new COVID-19 cases once again surging in Ukraine, the government announced the country was now in a “yellow” epidemic level. The move, which imposes limits on public gatherings and large events and includes mandates for wearing masks and social distancing, came after a special sitting of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies on September 21.
On September 17-19, elections to Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) were unlawfully staged in the Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine’s east (Donetsk and Luhansk) as well as in annexed Crimea. Elections to the Russian Duma were also held unlawfully in Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia – territories seized from Moldova and Georgia, respectively. The voting demonstrated Moscow’s systematic use of illegal “passportization” of citizens of other countries in territories forcibly seized from those countries. Russia uses mass-passportization as a form of annexing populations without necessarily declaring the annexation of the territory to Russia (see accompanying article in Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 23).
There are two competing projects for a memorial at Babyn Yar, the site of a mass murder of Jews and others during the Nazi occupation. One of these projects, the Russian, is heavily funded by Kremlin allies and seeks to use the memorial to blame Ukrainian anti-Semitism for this crime against humanity.
The other, less well-funded and lacking even the enthusiastic backing of the current Ukrainian president, is being developed by a group of Ukrainians, Jewish and otherwise. Its purpose is not some information war with Russia, but rather a respectful memorial to the victims of this tragedy.