November 26, 2020



New ambassador to U.S. is nominated

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba has confirmed that he proposed the candidacy of ex-Finance Minister Oksana Markarova for the post of Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, but stressed that there were no complaints about current ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko. “Facts, not confused rumors, about the new ambassador of Ukraine to the United States. Firstly, the current ambassador of Ukraine to Washington, Volodymyr Yelchenko, is a classic of Ukrainian diplomacy, and there are no complaints about his work, but no one canceled the principle of rotation in diplomacy. Secondly, the minister of foreign affairs submits the candidacy of a new ambassador for the president’s consideration. Having weighed all the arguments, I proposed the candidacy of Oksana Markarova,” Mr. Kuleba wrote on his Facebook page on November 20. He added that the procedure for her registration has already been launched, but it takes some time. “If appointed, Ukraine for the first time will have an ambassador to Washington who is well-known both in the U.S. administration, in particular in the Department of State and in the Department of Treasury, and in the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. … The fact that Markarova will be the first ever madame ambassador of Ukraine to the United States is also notable.” Mr. Kuleba noted. (Interfax-Ukraine)


Ukraine reports new COVID-19 cases

According to the Public Health Center of Ukraine, as of November 24 there were 12,287 officially confirmed new cases of COVID-19 (including 533 children and 570 health-care workers). The number of active cases is 337,355. During the previous 24 hours, 1,403 persons were hospitalized, 188 patients died and 8,298 persons recovered. (Ukrainian Canadian Congress Daily Briefing)


Minister proposes two-week lockdown

Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko on November 24 proposed that the government schedule a two-week lockdown, tied to the New Year holidays, and also to prohibit mass events for Christmas and the New Year. “According to the current plan of the Health Ministry, the last weekend quarantine awaits us. Everyone who cannot work under the conditions of coronavirus bans and restrictions, is waiting for this. We are talking about the creative economy and tourism, and small and medium-sized businesses, and others,” Mr. Tkachenko wrote on social media. According to Mr. Tkachenko, in recent days the daily number of people infected with COVID-19 has decreased, but the further developments could be predictable. “My personal opinion is that the predictable lockdown is better than long-term uncertainty. Therefore, I would suggest, firstly, schedule a two-week lockdown tied to the New Year holidays. Surely the government should help everyone who financially suffers in the face of unemployment. Secondly, give up on Christmas and New Year mass events and celebrate the holidays online, for example via Zoom. At least there will be something to remember,” the minister said. (Interfax-Ukraine)


Two soldiers killed in Ukraine’s east

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported on November 24 that in the previous 24 hours one Ukrainian soldier was killed in action. During that same 24-hour period, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front six times in total. The next day, the ministry announced that another soldier was killed in action and that enemy forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions four times. (Ukrainian Canadian Congress Daily Briefing)


More countries impose Belarus sanctions

Seven European countries that are not members of the European Union have aligned themselves with the sanctions imposed by the 27-member bloc on Belarus in response to a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests triggered by a disputed presidential election in August. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on November 20 that the seven countries included EU candidates North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Ukraine. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, has faced almost daily protests calling for his resignation since the August 9 presidential election, which the opposition says was rigged and the West has refused to recognize. Several protesters have been killed and thousands of people arrested since authorities declared the Belarusian strongman the landslide winner of the vote. There have also been credible reports of torture during a widening security crackdown. Most of the country’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to flee the country, while dozens of reporters have been incarcerated, including contributors to RFE/RL’s Belarus Service. The EU has slapped visa bans and asset freezes on Mr. Lukashenka and more than 50 senior officials over their roles in the crackdown on protests and the rigging of the vote. Noting that previous measures failed to halt repression in Belarus, Mr. Borrell said on November 19 that EU foreign ministers agreed to expand the bloc’s sanctions to include “institutions, entrepreneurs and firms.” The European Commission is also recommending the EU scale back cooperation with Belarus, including in trade, justice and security. Meanwhile, EU member states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia added 28 Belarusian individuals to their own blacklists already containing Lukashenka and more than 100 officials, AFP reported on November 20. Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevicius told the French news agency that Belarusian Information Minister Ihar Lutski, who is blamed for Internet shutdowns to prevent protests, was among those newly blacklisted. Sports Minister Syarhey Kavalchuk was also sanctioned for putting pressure on athletes who have spoken out against Mr. Lukashenka. (RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, with reporting by AFP)


Ukraine-Israel FTA to go into effect

A free trade agreement (FTA) between Ukraine and Israel will take effect beginning on January 1, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. “FTA between Ukraine and Israel will take effect on January 1, 2021! This is a new level of relations between the countries and the ‘green light’ to the growth of Ukrainian exports, closer cooperation in the fields of high-tech, engineering, investment. Great news, [Prime Minister of Israel] Benjamin Netanyahu,” Mr. Zelenskyy posted on Twitter. The Israel-Ukraine Free Trade Area Agreement was signed by the parties back on January 21, 2019. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified it in July 2019. In August 2019, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law ratifying the FTA with Israel. (Ukrinform)


Zelenskyy appoints envoy to UNESCO

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Ukraine’s ambassador to France, Vadym Omelchenko, as the permanent representative of Ukraine to UNESCO. The appointment was made by presidential decree on November 23. As previously reported, on June 11 Mr. Zelenskyy dismissed Oleh Shamshur from the concurrent posts of the ambassador of Ukraine to France and the permanent representative of Ukraine to UNESCO, and appointed Vadym Omelchen­ko to the post of ambassador to France. Born in 1963, Mr. Omelchenko is an Honored Lawyer of Ukraine, and the founder and president of the Gorshenin Institute. In 1996-1998 he headed the group of advisors to Vice Prime Minister for Economic Reforms Serhiy Tigipko, and in 2005-2006 and 2008-2009 he was an advisor to the speakers of the Verkhovna Rada. (Interfax-Ukraine)