UkraineAlert

After the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution, hopes were high for the introduction of the rule of law in Ukraine.

But five years later the demand for justice is still unfulfilled.

Judges implicated in corruption and political cases have tended to be promoted, and those few known for their integrity and independence have been demoted and fired.

To create an island of justice in Ukraine’s corrupt judiciary, civil society and the nation’s Western partners have demanded the creation of the High Anti-Corruption Court, whose members are being selected now.

But members of the Public Integrity Council, the judiciary's civil society watchdog, say the authorities have all the tools at their disposal to block the selection of the most professional, independent, and impeccable candidates.

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Eight-year-old Nina never wanted to be a star on Russian state television. Nevertheless, the Kyiv native was the subject of a one-hour discussion on Russia’s First Channel, a popular national show. The topic was hot: a Ukrainian family wanted their daughter to be taught music in Ukrainian.

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Ukrainians were granted the most residence permits of any non-EU nationals in the EU last year. Approximately 662,000 Ukrainians received such permission in 2017 alone. Ukrainians are now integrating into Europe at an annual number roughly equal to the population of Montenegro, an official EU accession candidate and new NATO member.

For hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, European liberties such as the freedom to work legally and the ability to live long-term and sell their services in the EU are becoming reality. These rights include the right of residence for persons of independent financial means.

However, this type of European integration is still largely a one-way street. There is very little movement of people from the EU into Ukraine.

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The parliament renewed Ukraine’s highest election body, the Central Election Commission, ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections.

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In response to Russia’s aggressive actions in the Sea of Azov, Ukraine has gone on high alert to boost its coastal defense positions and build up its naval presence.

Since April 2018, under the pretext of protecting its illegally constructed Kerch Bridge and fighting what it calls Ukraine’s “state piracy,” Russia has been brazenly conducting ad hoc inspections of merchant vessels headed to and from Ukraine. The unreasonably low clearance of the bridge combined with inspection delays hurts Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, already costing the economy over a billion hryvnias ($36 million). In addition, Russia has increased its military presence there to about 120 patrol boats and ships.

This has caught Ukraine off guard.

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On November 4, 33-year-old anticorruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk died from injuries caused by an acid attack. Handzyuk had been attacked three months earlier outside of her home in Kherson, Ukraine, and had undergone eleven surgeries to recover from the burns.

Since 2017, at least 55 activists, journalists, and one opposition politician have been attacked. UkraineAlert asked activists and observers the following: What’s it like to be an activist in Ukraine today? Have you been threatened or attacked? Do you think the situation is getting better or worse? Who is responsible?

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Media outlets everywhere face challenges ranging from shrinking advertising budgets to getting consumers to pay for content. In Ukraine, however, they may soon face a different kind of challenge.

A draft law currently being considered by Ukraine’s parliament would require all media published in other languages to produce an identical Ukrainian version both online and in print. Radio and TV are also required to be in Ukrainian, with programs in other languages being dubbed. If passed, the law would threaten the existence of several excellent publications and potentially alienate some segments of the population.

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Since illegally annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia has drastically increased its military presence in the Black Sea region. The Kremlin’s dominance may be temporary given NATO’s greater capacities, but so far, NATO’s response has been limited.

“Russia has practically covered all of the Black Sea region,” says Hryhorii Perepelytsia, the head of the Kyiv-based Foreign Policy Research Institute. “It can destroy targets—for instance, NATO ships—right at the entrance via the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles.”

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Having illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, Moscow lost no time in seizing Ukrainian energy assets in and around the region. The Kremlin is now conducting another experiment in economic and military operations, but this one has profound implications beyond Ukraine.

Before the seizure of Crimea, both Ukraine and Russia agreed to regard the Sea of Azov as the internal waters of each state. Thus, the states had shared sovereignty over that body of water; in the case of disputes, they would resolve them jointly.

This result held until the invasion of Crimea.

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On November 1, the Russian government imposed severe economic sanctions on 322 Ukrainian individuals and 68 Ukrainian companies. These are the most extensive sanctions imposed by any country in the tit-for-tat confrontation between Russia and Western countries over Ukraine.

Curiously, these sanctions are explicitly only economic, declaring that any assets on the territory of the Russian Federation belonging to these individuals and enterprises will be frozen, though one would presume that none of these people will be allowed to enter Russia and no trade with the sanctioned companies will be possible.

The sanctions focus mainly on two groups, politicians and businessmen.

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