Ukrainian newsletter #1: Russia murders Ukrainian prisoners of war

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Ukrainian parliament passes a law on special guarantees for Polish citizens in Ukraine

On 28th of July 2022 Ukraine’s parliament Verkhovna Rada passed the law granting special status for Polish citizens residing in Ukraine. It offers them and their families a legal stay in Ukraine up for 18 months. It also guarantees Poles employment without need to get a work permit, obtaining a local tax identification number and the same rights for economic activity as for Ukrainians. It also includes social guarantees and benefits, including refunds in case of full or partial disability, unemployment and loss of a breadwinner, medical care and studying in Ukrainian educational institutions with full government scholarship.

President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed to provide a special status for Poles in Ukraine as a sign of gratitude to the Polish people for their solidarity and support of Ukraine.

The law will come into force after Zelensky signs it and it is published.

 

New anti-corruption prosecutor appointed

On July 28 Oleksandr Klymenko was finally appointed as the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) after he won the job contest back in December 2020.

SAPO has been operating without its head since August 2020 because pro-government members of the election commission tasked to select the new head of SAPO have been reluctant to select an independent anti-corruption prosecutor.

Klymenko, 35, is an experienced detective who led many high-profile investigations. He investigated some of the most scandalous corruption cases, including those against ex-State Fiscal Service chief Roman Nasirov, ex-lawmaker Oleksandr Onyshchenko, ex-deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council Oleh Hladkovsky and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s current deputy chief of staff Oleh Tatarov.

The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is an independent unit of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General. It oversees all the investigations launched by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the main anti-corruption body of the country.

The appointment of an independent anti-corruption prosecutor was one of the main EU conditions for Ukraine’s status as a candidate country for accession to the European Union.

 

Russia slaughters Ukrainian POWs

More than 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) were killed and nearly 130 injured in the prison camp of Russia-occupied Olenivka village in Donetsk region on July 29. According to the Security Service of Ukraine, Russians allegedly used thermobaric weapons and planted the explosives in the camp.

Russia accused Armed Forces of Ukraine saying it hit the prison camp with HIMARS rockets. Ukraine denied it and called for international investigations and punishment for those guilty of mass murder.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine says that Russians committed the war crime to cover up torture and executions of the Ukrainian POWs. Ukraine’s defense intelligence says the execution was made to force Ukraine into peace talks with Russia on Russian terms.

Many prisoners of the Olenivka filtration camp are part of the Azov regiment, a unit of Ukraine’s army. They have been transferred there after surrendering at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in May.

Andriy Biletsky, the founder of the Azov regiment, announced a hunt for everyone involved in the mass murder. “Wherever you hide, you will be found and exterminated,” he said.

 

Ukrainian parliament appoints president loyalist as new prosecutor general

On July 27 Ukrainian parliament appointed lawmaker of pro-presidential Servant of the People party Andriy Kostin as prosecutor general. He is believed to be an ally of Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff. Kostin comes the office after former Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova was dismissed on July 19.

Kostin, 49, has been accused of trying to sabotage judicial reforms and involvement in the cover-up of one of the most notorious Ukrainian judges Pavlo Vovk who was charged with corruption and obstruction of justice. In addition, in 2019-2021 Kostin failed to declare some of his assets in his annual income declaration.

In 2021, Kostin applied for the position of chief anti-corruption prosecutor but failed to be selected because he did not meet ethics and integrity standards.

 

Zelensky announces the clean-up of the country’s security service

In July Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the clean-up in Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) after dismissing Ivan Bakanov, his childhood friend, from the position of the head of SBU earlier the same month.

According to sources close to the president, Bakanov lost his job because SBU in Kherson failed to blow up bridges across the Dnipro river which allowed Russian forces to quickly seize the city in early March. Many believe the officers responsible for it were committing a treason.

“More than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU remained in the occupied territory and are working against our country,” Zelensky said in his daily video address on July 17 adding that a total of 651 investigation into treason and collaboration activities were launched.

Bakanov agreed he had failed to clean up the intelligence service form Russian spies however added he had little time for that. Zelensky appointed Vasyl Malyuk, Bakanov’s first deputy, an acting head of the SBU.

On July 18 Zelensky announced the dismissal of 28 SBU officials. He also changed heads of SBU departments in some Ukrainian regions.

 

Russia attempts to disconnect Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Ukrainian grid

Russia aims to steal Ukrainian production capacity of electricity as the aggressor started connecting Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) to the Russian power system and disconnecting it from the Ukrainian system, says Petro Kotin, president of Ukrainian state company Energoatom that unites Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. However, the Russian and Ukrainian energy systems are not synchronized, so when trying to reconnect ZNPP, there will be an accident, he explains.

ZNPP was seized by Russian forces in early March. Russian forces that sized the plant said that they mined it. “There will be either Russian land or a scorched desert here,” Valeriy Vasiliev, head of the Russian forces at ZNPP said.

ZNPP’s capacity is over 6GW. It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Before the Russian invasion in February ZNPP produced almost a quarter of Ukraine’s electricity. The occupiers damaged the domestic sewage pumping station and radiation monitoring sensors. One of the power units of the ZNPP is disconnected from power system.

On August 11 UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres and UN Security Council called on Russia to demilitarize the plant and grant IAEA experts access to the site.

Nearly 100 Ukrainian personnel continue to work at the ZNPP.

 

Ukrainian grain export underway

Despite the war Ukraine is advancing its grain export as two ships with a total cargo of 70 thousand tons left the port of Chornomorsk on August 9, Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure wrote on its Facebook page. One vessel will deliver 5.3 thousand tons of sunflower oil cake to Turkey and the other 65-thousand-ton cargo of corn will be delivered to South Korea.

Earlier on August 7 a group of four ships carrying almost 170 thousand tons of grain and processed products left Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk and Odesa.

Ukraine resumed its grain shipment on August 1 when the first ship carrying 26 thousand tons of corn departed from the port of Odesa.

Since late February Russia has been blocking shipments of Ukrainian grain and agricultural products from leaving Ukraine’s ports. It caused rapid increase in food prices and fears of a global food crisis as Ukraine accounts for 10% of the global market for wheat, 15% for corn, 13% for barley and 50% for sunflower oil.

In late July Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN reached the agreement to resume Ukrainian grain export in the Black Sea.

In 2021/22 marketing year Ukraine exported 42.6 million tons of grain. On 1-25 July, the export dropped by 39.5%, or 705 thousand ton, to 1.1 mln ton from the same period last year, Ukraine’s Agro ministry reported.

Ukraine expects to receive at least $20 billion for grain exports in the current marketing year, Infrastructure Ministry says.

 

Ukraine halts Russian oil transit via Druzhba pipeline

On August 4 Ukraine halted Russian oil shipments through Druzhba pipeline as the payment could not be processed because of Western sanctions against Russia sanctions, cutting it off from international financial institutions. Ukraine cut off the transit flows as it operates on a full prepayment basis.

The shipments were suspended through the southern branch of the Druzhba oil pipeline which flows through Ukraine to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Russian oil transit flows through the northern branch of the Druzhba pipeline which goes though Belarus to Poland and Germany remained uninterrupted.

On 10 August, the flows via Ukraine resumed to Hungary and Slovakia that decided to cover the transit fees, but the flows to the Czech Republic have not resumed.

 

Ukraine to have sufficient gas stocks for winter

Ukraine is projected to have sufficient gas inventories for this winter because of a decrease in domestic gas consumption. Russian invasion provoked mass migration, closure of local businesses and large industrial consumers in the east and south of the country. As a result, in the first half of 2022 gas demand fell by approximately 25-30%. This means that this year Ukraine would need around 20 billion cubic meters, says Volodymyr Hnoyevy of Association of Energy Resources Suppliers.

In 2021, Ukraine consumed 26.8 billion cubic meters of gas. Domestic gas production fell by 6.6% (1.3 billion cubic meters) compared to the previous year and Ukrainian companies plan to produce 18.5 billion cubic meters this year. Thus, Ukraine has strong chance cover its gas needs in the current year with minimal import flows.

According to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, as of 15 July Ukraine had accumulated 11.3 billion cubic meters of gas in its gas storages. Almost 3 billion cubic meters have been pumped this year. Ukrainian government tasked state-run energy company Naftogaz to pick up storage injections to have 19 billion cubic meters in stocks before the start of the heating season in mid-October.

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