Cat

В Приморье договорились охранять диких кошек.

Во Владивостоке завершился Шестой международный экологический форум «Природа без границ».
Как сообщила пресс-служба краевой администрации, по итогам работы форума его участники приняли резолюцию, в которой содержатся обращения и рекомендации в адрес органов исполнительной и законодательной власти РФ, региональным администрациям стран Северо-Восточной Азии, администрациям муниципальных образований Приморского края. Главная рекомендация экспертов – усилить международное сотрудничество в области обмена ресурсосберегающими технологиями, сближения подходов в области нормативного правового обеспечения.
Проект резолюции был рассмотрен на заседаниях секций форума и принят на итоговом пленарном заседании.
Еще одним итогом форума «Природа без границ» стало заключение соглашения о сотрудничестве между российской рабочей группой по тигру и леопарду и центром изучения кошачьих государственной лесной академии КНР. Проект предполагает объединение усилий двух государств по мониторингу популяции и охране этих редких хищников.
Подводя итоги форума, и.о. начальника управления природных ресурсов Приморского края Алексей Почекунин вручил нескольким участникам форума почетные грамоты и благодарственные письма от имени губернатора Приморья Владимира Миклушевского. Большинство награжденных – ученые Дальневосточного отделения Российской академии наук, которые внесли большой вклад в дело изучения и сохранения окружающей среды.
Напомним, что в работе Шестого международного форума «Природа без границ» приняли участие свыше 300 делегатов. На площадках форума состоялись семинары и «круглые столы» на темы «Трансграничность и сохранение биологического разнообразия», «Природные опасности и риски, трансграничные экологические проблемы и угрозы Азиатско-Тихоокеанского региона», «Контроль и предотвращение загрязнения морских акваторий». Также в ВДЦ «Океан» состоялась приуроченная к форуму акция по очистке морского побережья от мусора.На сайте mainecooncats.info всегда можете купить котёнка породы мейн кун.Питомник кошек YanikaCoon предлагает котят мейн кун от титулованых производителей.

7 Kilometre

Fake Euro 2012 goods thrive on Ukraine’s “7 Kilometre” black market.

The products Tayo Abraham sells today made the same voyage the Nigerian trader did five years ago. They came over the Black Sea.
Five years ago, Abraham, 28, left his wife back in Africa and headed to Europe, the distant land of promise. He ended up on its outer edge, here, in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa.
Abraham plies his trade in what must be Europe’s largest open-air market.
It stands on the outskirts of Odessa and is known as “7 Kilometre.” This labyrinth of shipping containers covers an area the size of 110 soccer fields, and it would be easy to get lost if the metal containers weren’t painted blue, green or orange to identify their sector.
Every day, this city of sheet steel attracts some 200,000 shoppers who buy €20 million ($25.8 million) worth of goods.
The market’s management says some 60,000 people work here and that the place gives the entire region an important economic boost.
But the container mall is also a hub for product pirates and smugglers.
It is regarded as the biggest black market on the European continent.
Traders sell fake Adidas shoes and €15 knock-offs of Louis Vuitton luxury handbags.
Tayo Abraham takes a pair of sneakers from one of his boxes. With their three stripes, they are the spitting image of Adidas brand shoes.
“In truth they come from China or Turkey,” says Abraham. A pair costs the equivalent of €12. He also sells shoes bearing the exclusive Lacoste crocodile for an affordable €15.
Demand is strong. Abraham rents two containers piled on top of each other. He has turned the lower one into an improvised shoe shop with shelves and a cracked mirror. The container above is filled with boxes of merchandise for wholesale customers who buy bulk and smuggle the goods westward into the rest of Europe.
The 2012 European soccer championship, co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, is big business for the traders of “7 Kilometre.”
Abraham fishes a box of flip-flop sandals from his container. They are adorned with the brand name “UEFA Euro 2012” and the logo of the championship, a soccer ball framed by two flowers in the national colours of co-hosts Poland and Ukraine.
“I’m selling crateloads of them,” says Abraham.
He’s also making a pile in Euro 2012 felt hats and stuffed toy mascots of the tournament, Slavek and Slavko, the rights to which are owned by U.S. media giant Warner Bros.
The body that governs European soccer, UEFA, is losing merchandising revenue as a result. “We don’t know how much counterfeit stock is on the market,” says UEFA’s sales manager Thibaut Potdevin. “So it is hard for us to estimate the damage.”
There isn’t much that UEFA can do about it. Ukraine passed a law before the championship to protect UEFA’s trademark.
But black markets like that in Odessa have influential allies among the police and local authorities. Market director Anatoly Berladin used to be deputy head of the local militia force. Oleg Kolesnikov, one of the bazaar’s backers, is a member of Odessa city council. “So far, no one has managed to disrupt our business,” he says.
No one has made a serious effort to do so. It’s an open secret in Odessa that Ukrainian authorities are knowingly letting counterfeit merchandise from Turkey and China get through the customs controls.
Abraham said the wholesaler who supplies him bribes the port authority.
“It is clear that the customs authority is getting a share of the proceeds from the smuggling,” says an employee of Warner Bros. who did not want to be named.
When traders come to buy whole crates of trainers and Euro flip-flops, Abraham knows where they’re headed. The smugglers transport the goods to the breakaway territory of Transnistria some 80 kilometres away. The strip of land between Moldova and Ukraine isn’t internationally recognized and is regarded as a bastion of smugglers. From there, the counterfeit goods are taken to Moldova and then on to Romania — in the EU.
The market administration of “7 Kilometres” charges about $300 rent per container per month, and the lease on a store on the site costs about $1,000.
But it’s worth the money, even for small traders.
Abraham earns about $1,200 per month.
Market director Berladin denies there is any black market trading or product piracy. “Everything here is above board,” he insists.” But he adds that it’s impossible to check each one of the 14,000 traders.
While thousands of cars cram the giant parking area, a short distance away stands a branch of Epicenter, a chain of DIY stores that is sponsoring the tournament and is entitled to sell official fan merchandise.
There’s no shortage of parking spots there — the difference is they are all empty.

Next step

Ukraine wants to take next step against France.

Andriy Shevchenko cemented his status as a legend for Ukraine years ago, and the 35-year-old striker reached an even more elite status in the team’s Euro 2012 opener.
Shevchenko scored a pair of goals to lead Ukraine to a win over Sweden, taking his career scoring total to 48 goals in 109 international matches. Now, he can raise his status one more notch, if he takes his country to knockout play.
In its first-ever Euro finals, as a co-host, Ukraine surprised Group D when it defeated Sweden, 2-1. Shevchenko scored both goals to lead the comeback win.
Ukraine will try to ride the emotion of its huge victory, and its home crowd – “Thanks to all the supporters,” Shevchenko said – into its game against France at Donbass Arena on Friday, when a win would seal a quarterfinal berth.
“I have so many emotions right now,” Shevchenko said. “This is fantastic. It’s the European Championship, playing at home, the opening game, and we win 2-1.”
Shevchenko realized nothing has been accomplished yet, as France – which tied England 1-1 in its first match – will provide another challenge. As fast as it lifted the nation to beat Sweden, the excitement could weaken with a loss.
For Shevchenko, that makes the approach simple: Play each match like it is the last. For the veteran, that is almost true. He will retire after the event.
“Each game we approach like a final. (Monday) it was the opening game at home, we won and showed outstanding football qualities. We will be preparing for the next game the same way,” Shevchenko said.
Even with the attention on Shevchenko, it was a team performance that fueled a win over Sweden and coach Oleh Blokhin was aware there were “good moments and bad moments.” And all that matters now is France.
“We still have two games left; (Monday’s) result puts us in a good position,” Blokhin said.
France will enter its second game as the clear favorite, even with a nation in its opponents corner. The favorite to win the group and erase its poor outings in Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, the French still have something to prove.
Samir Nasri scored in Monday’s 1-1 draw with England, but coach Laurent Blanc admitted “we have mixed feelings.”
Blanc felt France could have won the game, but also admitted “the draw as fair for both teams.” He cannot approach the second match content with a draw, even though it would keep France in position to advance.
“I hope we’ll be ready from the first minute in the next game,” Blanc said.

Cultural Leaders Convene in Kiev

International Religious and Cultural Leaders Convene in Kiev for Historic Interfaith Forum.

Amidst a period of widespread social and political changes which have swept the globe in recent months, a delegation of top religious leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist faiths met in Kiev over April 25-26 to discuss the developing role of religion during these dramatic times.

With phenomenon such as the ‘Arab Spring’ and flaring economic crises pushing global affairs into new realms, many observers are questioning the position that religion holds in effecting these changes. To address this pressing issue, the Kiev Interfaith Forum, supported by the Ukrainian Jewish Committee and the Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia, presented the outlooks of some of the world’s most distinguished clerical and cultural leaders within the framework of a conference titled Global Winds of Change: Religions’ Role in Today’s World & the Challenges in Democracies and Secular Societies.

Hosted by Ukrainian Member of Parliament and President of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Oleksandr Feldman, conference sessions took place at the Intercontinental Hotel and the Ukrainian Parliament. According to MP Feldman, the program explores issues of importance to the global, religious community: “Today, perhaps more than ever before, organized religion is facing major challenges in understanding its place in shaping the course of international events. This faith-inclusive conference helps enable us to better understand global conditions and forces at work with the aim of fostering unified responses by the religious community with an eye toward what the future may hold.”

At a special session held in the Parliament of Ukraine, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Lytvyn said, “I don’t want to see a situation where certain religious groups turn into political parties since politicians can exploit a pervasive ‘with us or against us’ mentality. I am therefore prepared to support legislation which fosters improved relations between faiths and religious denominations throughout the country.”

Included in the program was a panel featuring international hip-hop artist Shyne, known for successfully pursuing a career in music while embracing the lifestyle of an ultra-orthodox Jew. “Shyne’s story is reflective of religion in modern society by demonstrating how faith can co-exist – and even flourish – with almost any medium and how one can thrive in the professional arena without compromising one’s personal value system,” commented MP Feldman. “He is an inspiration to young people throughout the world.”

The two-day program explored numerous facets which focused on the intersection between religion and contemporary society. The conference welcomed the participation of numerous leading public figures from around the world including His Most Godly Beatitude Teophilos III, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Dr. Mohammed Shujauddin Shafi, of the Muslim Council of Britain and Avraham Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset of Israel, among many others. Various media personalities spoke at the event, including Izzy Lemberg, former Senior Producer for the CNN Bureau in Jerusalem, and Boris Lozhkin, CEO of Ukrainian Media Holding.

Naftogaz reform

Yanukovych signs law on Naftogaz reform
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a law on pipeline transport regarding the reform of the oil and gas industry, which allows the Cabinet of Ministers to reorganize the national JSC Naftogaz of Ukraine.
At the same time, the privatization of Naftogaz and companies that will be created as a result of its reorganization has been banned. As reported, the Verkhovna Rada introduced amendments to Article 7 of the law on pipeline transport, banning the privatization of state enterprises and subsidiaries of Naftogaz that are engaged in transportation through trunk or distribution pipelines, storage in underground storage facilities, as well as Naftogaz itself. The Verkhovna Rada decided that the reorganization of these enterprises would be conducted in line with a decision of the Cabinet of Ministers. Naftogaz reform is being conducted in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Energy Community and the need to bring Ukrainian legislation into line with EU energy legislation.

Yanukovych promises

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovichon Saturday promised a swift investigation into Friday’s bomb blasts in the city of Dnipropetrovskthat injured 30 people just weeks ahead of the European soccer championship which Ukraineco-hosts.
Four bombs planted in trash bins in various downtown locations exploded at short intervals in the city of 1.3 million on Friday afternoon, in what prosecutors said was an “act of terrorism”.
“We understand well that we must find the criminals as soon as possible and they must be punished,” Yanukovich said after meeting top law enforcement officials inDnipropetrovskwhere he arrived on Saturday.
“We must understand what motivations and goals this crime had.”
Yanukovich said city authorities would pay 2 million hryvnias ($250,000) for any information that would help find the bombers.
The president and other officials declined to say what direction the investigation was taking.

The attack, a rare event in the peaceful ex-Soviet republic, has unsettled authorities who are preparing to host the Euro-2012 soccer championship together withPoland.
Dnipropetrovsk, an important industrial and technological hub and the birthplace of many ofUkraine’s political elite, is not a championship venue itself. It is located about 150 miles (241 kms) away from Donetsk which will host several games.
The bombings have also added to political tension inUkraine, already high following last year’s conviction of Yanukovich’s opponent, former prime ministerYulia Tymoshenko, on abuse-of-office charges and a fresh tax evasion trial against her.
The government and the opposition have traded accusations of seeking to exploit the blast for political purposes.
InDnipropetrovsk, where regular police have been reinforced by interior troops and large-scale public gatherings have been barred, many were recovering from the shock.
“I live inIsraeland such explosions are not new to me but I was shocked to see a familiar picture here: a blast-hit tram and bloodied people,” said 50-year-oldAlexander Mogilyev.
Ukraine’s healthcare ministry said in a statement on Saturday 22 people were still in hospital, three them in grave condition.

Agence France-Presse

Agence France-Presse: Ukraine’s Euro 2012 dreams turning dark.

Explosions and Western anger over the alleged prison beating of hunger-striking ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko have turned Ukraine’s Euro 2012 dreams into a nightmare just weeks before the kick-off.

The former Soviet nation of 46 million had been hoping to use its first major showcase to charm and impress the European fans who plan to trek beyond co-hosts Poland and visit Ukraine’s three gleaming new football venues.

But things took a tense turn in mid-April when European football boss Michel Platini — a suave Frenchman who has backed Ukraine’s cause from the start — accused its “bandits and crooks” of hiking up hotel prices to exorbitant rates.

Tymoshenko’s bruises appeared

Ukrainian prosecutors say Tymoshenko’s bruises appeared after bumping into blunt solid objects.

The results of an investigation conducted by the Kharkiv Region Prosecutor’s Office have not confirmed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s claims of violence, Vadym Horan, the director of the law enforcement department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, told TV Channel Five on Sunday evening.
“The Code of Criminal Procedure gives us ten days to carry out an inquiry and reach a decision,” he said.
“Multiple checks have already been conducted and almost all participants in the events have been questioned, including doctors, penitentiary system employees, the ambulance team who transported Yulia Volodymyrivna [Tymoshenko], hospital doctors and other people who could have witnessed these events,” the official said.
“The facts mentioned by Yulia Volodymyrivna in her statement have not been confirmed,” Horan said.
Court doctors have concluded that Tymoshenko’s bruises could not have appeared on April 20, as she claims, he said.
“Furthermore, the mechanism and localization of these bruises indicates that they appeared as a result of pressing against blunt solid objects or bumping into them. But they could not have appeared as a result of being hit in the stomach, as she claims. They could have formed as a result of the use of insignificant physical force,” he said.
Following Tymoshenko’s rejection of a forensic medical examination, such an examination was conducted “based on medical documents, as well as the act compiled by prison doctors, who documented the presence of bodily harm she [Tymoshenko] showed them,” Horan said.
During the check, experts did not use the photographs taken by former commissioner for human rights Nina Karpachova because they “were obtained in violation of the rules,” he said.
Karpachova’s conclusion was not taken into consideration either, he said.
“This document cannot be called official because it was not compiled by the specialists in charge of these issues,” Horan said.
Photographs showing Tymoshenko’s bruises were published in the media last Friday. The photographs were taken on April 25. Tymoshenko claims that these bruises were inflicted by prison guards who took her to the hospital against her will on April 20

Foreign Ministry says Kyiv

Foreign Ministry says Kyiv would not like to think Berlin trying to make sport a hostage to politics.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry hopes that German news reports claiming that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is allegedly considering a “political boycott” of Euro 2012 in Ukraine in response to the imprisonment of the country’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are not true.

“We would like to believe that it is just a newspaper hoax. The same happened in the situation with the German president, who initially did not plan to attend the Central European Summit, but did not cancel his visit for political motives, as some media outlets alleged last week,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn told Interfax-Ukraine.

“We would not like to think that state officials of Germany are able to revive Cold War-era methods and try to make sport a hostage to politics,” he said.
Several years ago, when serious doubts were voiced over Ukraine’s ability to prepare for Euro 2012, media reports were awash with discussions that Germany would like to host the championship in the event of UEFA’s refusal to hold it in Ukraine, Voloshyn said.
“What is noteworthy is that no matter what disagreements German political figures have with the governments of other countries in our region, none of them has even hinted at a boycott of major athletic events due to take place in these states within the next few years,” he said.
German media reports claimed earlier that Chancellor Merkel was considering a “political boycott” of Euro 2012 in Ukraine if Tymoshenko was not released before the start of the championship.

EBRD invests

EBRD invests in first wind power project in Ukraine.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is making its first ever investment into wind power generation in Ukraine by organising a €13.3 million financing package to Eco-Optima, a Ukrainian-Italian joint venture company, which will operate a wind farm in Staryy Sambir region of western Ukraine.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is making its first ever investment into wind power generation in Ukraine by organising a €13.3 million financing package to Eco-Optima, a Ukrainian-Italian joint venture company, which will operate a wind farm in Staryy Sambir region of western Ukraine.
The loan will consist of two parallel tranches: a 10-year EBRD loan of €9.5 million and a 15-year loan of €3.8 million from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).
The loan proceeds will be used to construct and operate a wind farm with a total capacity of 12.5 MW. It will consist of 5 wind turbines and is expected to generate at least 25.5 GWh every year. The project will improve the quality and reliability of power supply in the Lviv region and will secure electricity supply to more than 10,000 households. The wind farm, which will be operational by the end 2012, should bring total annual reduction in carbon emissions to about 26,000 tonnes.
This is the first project to receive funding under the EBRD’s Ukrainian Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF), an investment facility of €70 million (€50 million from EBRD and €20 million from the CTF) designed to provide finance to private local enterprises wishing to invest in renewable energy projects in Ukraine. Technical assistance on projects preparation, regulatory framework development and strategic environmental review is funded by the Global Environmental Facility. It helped the Ukrainian authorities introduce necessary regulatory changes to make renewable energy projects commercially viable and attractive for investors.
Olivier Descamps, EBRD Managing Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, said: “Ukraine has a great potential in developing renewable energy generation and this project is our contribution to this good cause. We are committed to support the development of wind, solar, small hydro and biomass energy projects in Ukraine through our own funds and by providing technical assistance to them”.
Maxim Kozytskyy, Eco-Optima Director, added: “We appreciate EBRD’s catalyst role in the Ukrainian renewable energy sector. Our project was made possible thanks to the USELF programme which combined both the EBRD and the CTF financing as well as consultants’ support”.
Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, said: “This new investment is a stellar example of how public private partnerships can leverage public funds and encourage private sector investment in clean energy and other environmentally sound technologies. We are committed to working with EBRD and other financial institutions to create many more of these successful partnerships.”
CTF was established to provide developing countries with positive incentives to adopt technologies that have a high potential for minimising long-term greenhouse gas emissions. The CTF finances programmes in 12 countries and one region.
The EBRD’s Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) was launched in 2006 to address the challenges of energy efficiency and climate change. In an attempt to make Ukraine more energy efficient and energy independent, the Bank has already invested €1.3 billion in 60 sustainable energy projects for the total value of almost € 6 billion.
The EBRD is the largest financial investor in Ukraine. To date, the Bank has committed over €7.4 billion (US$ 9.76 billion) through 293 projects.

Poland

Poland fears Ukraine bomb blasts may mar Euro 2012.

Poland is concerned that a series of bomb blasts in Ukraine which injured 30 people, in what the authorities there described as an “act of terrorism”, will mar the approaching Euro 2012 soccer championships, Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski has said.
Amid fears over the security of the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans expected to attend the soccer tournament, which Poland and its eastern neighbor Ukraine are jointly hosting in June and July, Komorowski said: “Of course this causes concern, including in Poland because of the approaching Euro 2012 tournament, (about) a worsening atmosphere… in a country with which we are organizing this great sporting event.”

Poland’s Internal Security Agency said that for now it was not recommending that the authorities in Warsaw should warn of an increased level of terrorist threat. It added in a statement that “there is no reason to link the attacks on Ukraine with the current level of terrorist threat to Poland.”

Four bombs left in trash cans in various locations in Dnipropetrovsk, an industrial center of over one million inhabitants in eastern Ukraine, exploded in quick succession around midday on Friday, injuring 30 people, including 11 children.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich promised a swift probe into the blasts, which the country’s prosecutors said were an “act of terrorism”. Media in Poland have speculated that the explosions may have been the work of feuding criminal gangs.
Ukrainian soccer federation chief Hryhory Surkis said that those who planted the bombs were “accomplices to an attack on the image of our country ahead of Euro 2012.”
Euro 2012 matches will not be played in Dnipropetrovsk itself.
UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, said it remained confident that security measures taken by Ukraine would ensure a “smooth and festive” tournament, despite the bomb blasts.

EU-Ukraine

EU-Ukraine: from fatigue to irritation.

Ukraine’s favourite foreign policy game is called ‘multi-vectorness’ – a constant process of ‘eschewing choice‘ as this recent study explained. For years Ukraine sought to extract concessions and be treated nicely by both Russia and the EU or US not because it was sticking to its promises, but because it played sometimes skilfully and sometimes brazenly on contradictions between external actors. A simplified version of the rule of rules of the game, in its Ukrainian version, looks the following way:

  1. Promise both Russia and the EU everything they might want to hear (usually integration into some Russian- or EU-led initiative);
  2. Ask for something in exchange (market access, lower gas prices, financial assistance, opportunities for lucrative but opaque deals etc).
  3. Get what you asked and drag your feet on delivering on your promises.
  4. If either the EU or Russia is upset for not getting what they were promised – threaten that you will intensify cooperation with the other external partner.

The truth is that this has mostly worked. (Not just for Ukraine, but also for Moldova under Voronin and at times Belarus’ Lukashenko or a whole series of Central Asian states, not to mention a plethora of historical case from Italian city-states in the Middle Ages, to Nasser’s Egypt and Tito’s Yugouslavia.) The EU has long been quite lenient with Ukraine not because it was impressed by Ukraine’s reforms performance, but because it had to be nice to such a geopolitically important country. Ukraine, at its turn, whenever felt the heat of potential pressure from Brussels, would start tickling Brussels nerves with positive noises about integration with Russia; and vice-versa, whenever Russian demands on Ukraine became too assertive, Kiev was thrown into accesses of declarative pro-Europeanness (and pro-Atlanticism).

This has been going on for most of the last two decades. But the problem with the game is that the more you play it the less credibility you have, the less likely your partners are to play by your rules and the more likely they are to toughen their demands and ask for concrete deliverables (by following the dogma of one of the heroes of Ilf and Petrov – ‘if you give me the money in the evening – you get the chairs in the morning; or if you give me the money in the morning – you the chairs in the evening’). So with each new round of the game your room for manoeuvre is smaller and smaller and the usual Ukrainian foreign policy recipe works less and less well. Both Russia and the EU are tired of the game, and much less interested in playing it.

This explains why the EU is now more than ever in a non-blinking mood over the signature of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, put on hold because of the imprisonment of former prime-minister Timoshenko (and three former ministers) and other questionable ways in which Ukrainian domestic politics has been evolving. In usual fashion, the Ukrainian prime-minister tried to hint that Ukraine might join the Russia-led Customs Union. But EU’s resolve which at better times would have melted at such a threat, remained solid.

One of the more interesting episodes of these games is taking place in Kiev. Usually, it is American or Russian diplomats using straight talk to make a point and have the full backing of powerful states behind. EU’s diplomatic modus operandi is usually different. The EU has long been known for the fact that most of its diplomats are soft-spoken and controversy-shy project managers happily disbursing EU assistance, but avoiding tough political issues. Not least because their backing from ‘home’ can be less straightforward since the EU itself is so affected by many different, if not conflicting, member states preferences. In any case the EU has usually been a nice diplomatic pet, much easier to ignore than US or Russia. But not anymore (as argued in a recent post on EU is showing its teeth). The last few months saw some sharp diplomatic exchanges between the Ukrainian MFA and the EU delegation in Kiev. First, the EU ambassador to Kiev said that Yanukovich is not delivering on his promises to fight corruption. This provoked a strong rebuke from the Ukrainian MFA which accused the EU ambassador of behaving like a ‘ukrainized’ political analyst. Then the EU diplomat said his job is to say what he thinks about the situation in Ukraine and that the Ukrainians should not count on his fake smiles and praise of a non-improving business climate and that he is now someone’s ‘puppet’.

What was a few years ago called ‘Ukraine fatigue‘ in the EU, a feeling of disappointment with the failure of pursuing long-promised reforms by Yushchenko and Timoshenko, has now turned into active irritation with Yanukovich’s administration. Not a very good mood to attend the forthcoming football championship for Ukraine. By the way, attending EU leaders might want to start thinking now how to behave then. One option is to stay home, like Angela Merkel. The other is to go, but spoil the party and visit Timoshenko. And the third, is to go and enjoy it. The bet is on EU’s different political leaders going for all three options undermining what until now has been a semblance of EU unity.

Moody’s

Ukraine Bank Reserve Rules Are Credit Positive: Moody’s.

A planned change in reserve rules for banks in Ukraine are credit positive for the lenders, according to Moody’s Elena Redko.

“On April 18, the National Bank of Ukraine, the country’s central bank, declared its intention to allow banks to unblock up to 100 percent of non-interest bearing mandatory reserves — up from 40 percent — for use in intraday liquidity management,” Redko wrote in the rating company’s weekly credit outlook published today. “Despite easing a prudential measure, we consider this action as credit positive for Ukrainian banks.”

“While the NBU will still maintain daily supervision of unblocked reserves, the measure will increase the banks’ intraday liquidity positions by $1.8 billion (1.4 percent of system assets) and improve profitability, as a portion of these funds are reallocated to interest-yielding assets,” she said in the note.

Dnipropetrovsk

Three men sought over Ukraine blasts

Dnipropetrovsk: Ukraine on Sunday published the descriptions of three men who are wanted over the series of blasts that wounded at least 26 people in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk.

“Three men are being sought” for their alleged implications in the four “terrorist attacks”, said the eastern city branch of Ukraine’s secret service in a statement seen by a news agency.
The suspects are aged between 30 and 45, the statement said, while no official information has emerged about what may have motivated Friday’s attacks.
An Internet user calling himself Eurobomber posted a message on Saturday on a local news website, claiming to have organised the four successive attacks with an accomplice.

The user also said he had left a letter claiming responsibility for the crime at a post office and threatened to commit more attacks if his demands were not met.
It was not immediately clear what demands the letter contained.
“The police are checking this information,” an Interior Ministry source told the agency, declining any further comment because the investigation was under the country’s security service.
Ukraine is investigating a suspected terrorist attack after four bombs triggered within an hour in a busy area of the city on Friday injured 26 people, according to the Emergency Situations Ministry.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych visited victims in hospital on Saturday and announced a USD 2,50,000 reward “for information that will help solve the crime”.
The message claiming responsibility was not believed to be from the real attackers, 1+1 television channel reported on its website, however, citing official sources.
Investigators favour the theory that the attack was carried out by someone with mental health problems, wrote the Liga.Net news website.
Fourteen victims were still in hospital on Sunday, three of them in a serious condition, the Interfax agency reported, citing local authorities.
The attack has raised fresh concerns about the politically troubled former Soviet state’s ability to guarantee security six weeks away from the opening of the Euro 2012 football championship.
The event is co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, and while no matches are to be played in Dnipropetrovsk itself, the organisers will take the UEFA cup to the industrial city in May as part of a tour.

Merkel to boycott Ukraine football tournament

German Chancellor Angela Merkel could cancel her visit to Ukraine during the Euro 2012 football tournament in June if jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is not released by then, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported yesterday (29 April).

“If Tymoshenko is not released by the start of the Euro in June, the German footballers will then most likely have to play without Merkel being in attendance,” the magazine said, without naming any sources.

Last October, the European Union saw Tymoshenko’s jailing as politically-motivated and has criticised her conviction (see background). Ukraine is co-hosting the June 8-July 1 tournament together with neighbouring Poland.Merkel usually travels to attend important matches involving the German national team, Reuters reported. Der Spiegel said if Merkel refused to attend, other cabinet members were likely to follow suit. A spokesman for the German government declined to comment on the report.German President Joachim Gauck said last week he had cancelled a planned visit to Ukraine next month. The former human rights activist had been due to attend a meeting of central European heads of state in Ukraine’s Black Sea resort of Yalta.

On Friday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said a decision on whether the chancellor would attend matches in Ukraine depended on the situation.”Obviously further developments in Ukraine and the Tymoshenko case would play a role in the decision,” he said.Other EU nations have also been alarmed. On Sunday, Italy’s Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said he was following the case with “growing concern”.”The news…that Ms Tymoshenko was said to be recently faced with physical violence during a transfer from prison to hospital can’t help but raise serious alarm,” he said in a statement.Berlin has repeatedly offered to treat Tymoshenko, who suffers from back pain, in a German hospital.A poll by German newspaper Bild am Sonntag found that 52% of Germans are in favour of Merkel and her ministers staying away from matches in Ukraine.The poll also found 50% of Germans were opposed to Euro matches taking place in Ukraine in the first place.

Series bomb

Terrorism threat?

A series of bomb explosions in Ukraine added to the tensions. Four bombs left in trash cans in various locations in Dnipropetrovsk, an industrial center of over one million inhabitants in eastern Ukraine, exploded in quick succession around midday on Friday, injuring 30 people, including 11 children.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich promised a swift probe into the blasts, which the country’s prosecutors said were an “act of terrorism”.

Polish president Bronisław Komorowski voiced worries for the football championship his country is co-hosting with Ukraine.

“Of course this causes concern, including in Poland because of the approaching Euro 2012 tournament, [about] a worsening atmosphere… in a country with which we are organising this great sporting event,” Komorowski said, as reported by the Voice of Warsaw.

Poland’s Internal Security Agency said that for now it was not recommending that the authorities in Warsaw should warn of an increased level of terrorist threat. It added in a statement that “there is no reason to link the attacks on Ukraine with the current level of terrorist threat to Poland.”

Media in Poland have speculated that the explosions may have been the work of feuding criminal gangs.

Ukrainian soccer federation chief Hryhory Surkis said that those who planted the bombs were “accomplices to an attack on the image of our country ahead of Euro 2012.” Euro 2012 matches will not be played in Dnipropetrovsk itself.

UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, said it remained confident that security measures taken by Ukraine would ensure a “smooth and festive” tournament, despite the bomb blasts.

Studio Kvartal-95

MY Tupelo Takes Ukrainian Mass Dancing Format ‘Go Dance!’ For U.S.

The show features teams of hundreds of dancers competing for the title of their country’s dance capital.

COLOGNE, Germany - Michael Yudin’s MY Tupelo Entertainment has acquired North American rights to the hit Ukranian mass dancing format Go Dance!, in which teams of hundreds of dancers from different cities compete to be named their country’s dance capital.

Ukrainian producers Studio Kvartal-95 and Russia’s Star Media Group inked the deal with My Tupelo to develop the format for the American market. It is the first time a Ukrainian format has been picked up for the U.S.. Yudin and Star Media’s William Peck and Maria Grechishnikova negotiated the deal, with help from CAA.

My Tupelo, whose on-air formats include Pros vs. Joes on Spike TV and Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, plan to co-produce the U.S. version of Go Dance! with Nigel Lythgoe Productions.

The original Go Dance! show airs on Inter TV in Ukraine. On the show, teams of dancers, often numbering up to five hundred each, prepare and rehearse a dance number with a professional choreographer. The teams then face off in a two-hour live dance competition, staged every week in Maydan, the main square in the Ukranian capital, Kiev. A jury and viewers at home vote on the winners, who receive a cash prize and win the title of dance capital for their home town.

Go Dance! is a dance show unparalleled in scale. The show is close in style to flash mobs, so popular nowadays, and I’m confident of its further success,” said Vladimir Zelenskiy, general producer for the show on Inter TV and creative director at Studio Kvartal-95.

Go Dance! has been a ratings hit in Ukraine, which has a long tradition of folk dancing.

Star Media said it is in negotiations for a French deal for Go Dance! and will be shopping the format to international broadcasters at the MIP-TV television market in Cannes in April.

Naked FEMEN

Naked FEMEN Activists Arrested in Istanbul.

Four Ukrainian FEMEN activists staged one of their trademark bare-breasted protests in Istanbul today, to demonstrate against domestic violence in Turkey. The four women wore make-up on their faces and bodies to make them appear battered, bruised and disfigured by acid. Standing in the midst of busy downtown Istanbul, they held up signs and banners and were quickly dragged away and detained by police. According to FEMEN’s Live Journal site, the activists are still in detention and have yet to be charged with a crime. They have not been allowed to talk to lawyers.

The FEMEN demonstation occurred only hours after a Turkish man reportedly shot a female relative, 40-year-old Diyar Bengitay — a mother of three — dead, according to the Associated Press via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The purpose of the FEMEN protest was to address violence against woman by making the “governments of Muslim countries in South Asia recognize the reality of genocide against women, to publicize such cases and severely punish the perpetrators.”

The FEMEN protest on International Women’s Day coincided with the Turkish government announcing a bill to “improve its image” by addressing domestic violence. The new bill would introduce “tough measures against abusers and provide improved protection for victims,” says the Hürriyet Daily News. The bill would also seek to stop “honor killings” and the murders of women deemed to have tarnished theirs and their family’s reputation due to a premarital relationship or to having a child out of wedlock.

Ukraine Eurovision

Ukraine Eurovision Selection Marred by Right-Wing Racism.

In the opening bars of “Be My Guest” — Ukraine’s entry for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest — the Ukrainian surma horn suggests that something highly traditional is about to unfold. Within 15 seconds, however, strains of folk music and visions of stiff-jacketed, strutting Cossacks give way to decidedly modern pop. There’s an electronic synthesizer. There’s a distinctly European house beat. And more than anything else, there are the powerful R&B vocals of Gaitana — the only Afro-Ukrainian celebrity in her country.

Born to a Congolese father and Ukrainian mother, Gaitana has pioneered R&B music in Ukraine. The genre didn’t exactly flourish in the Soviet Union while the 32-year-old was growing up. “I found out about R&B thanks to my foreign friends, who brought me high-quality music from abroad,” she tells TIME. “I’ve been visiting closed R&B parties since I was 15 … I was lucky, because in the U.S.S.R., such style of music wasn’t available to everyone.”

Fast-forward to Feb. 18, when Gaitana used her vocals to blow away 20 competitors in the country’s national selection contest for Eurovision, the pan-European music contest that is the world’s most watched nonsporting event. Set up in the aftermath of World War II, it allows countries to duke it out through songs rather than bombs (think of it as a combination of the Olympics and American Idol) and counts Abba and Celine Dion among its past winners. For many countries — especially those in new Europe, where fans follow the contest with a particular enthusiasm — it’s a rare chance to share the stage with Europe’s traditional powers and perhaps win. National broadcasters, like the BBC in the U.K., pour big bucks into their contestants, hoping promotional campaigns and European tours in the run-up to the contest will bring glory to the motherland.

But while Gaitana won the support of Ukrainian voters — and the honor of representing Ukraine at the Eurovision final this May — she hasn’t won over Yuriy Syrotyuk, a high-ranking member of the ultranationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party. He doesn’t object to her upbeat song or her spilling cleavage. He objects to her race. “Gaitana is not an organic representative of the Ukrainian culture,” he told the Kyiv Post at the end of February, adding that he preferred Gaydamaky — a Ukrainian group that performs Cossack rock, which draws inspiration from Ukraine’s rich musical heritage. “As we want to be accepted to the European Union, it could be our opportunity to show the Europeans that we are also a European nation. We need to show our originality.” As part of his xenophobic rant, he also suggested that Gaitana “will provoke an association of Ukraine as a country of a different continent.”

Gaitana, who performed at Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, says Syrotyuk’s words brought tears to her eyes. “The Svoboda Party insulted not only me personally but also all those foreign sportsmen who represent Ukraine and those people who consider themselves Ukrainians in spite of their skin color,” she says. “People should not be afraid of giving birth to their kids here or feel that they need to leave in order to find a better life.”

The response from Gaitana’s fellow celebrities and musicians has been swift, as has the response from the public. A number of NGOs have suggested publicly that Gaitana has recourse to laws that criminalize hate speech, though the chances of Syrotyuk being successfully prosecuted are slim. “We do have legislation on racism and xenophobia,” Yana Salakhova of the International Organization for Migration told EuroNews. “But it is not being used to sentence those who are guilty and to develop a culture where people are held responsible for their actions and their words.”

Syrotyuk’s ultranationalist invective seems even more vulgar when Gaitana speaks of the pride she feels in being Ukrainian. “In my childhood I played table tennis professionally,” she remembers. “I represented Ukraine together with an Asian girl at different competitions. Nobody told us that we shouldn’t represent this country. People always rejoiced at our victories. All my achievements both in music and in sport are devoted to my beloved motherland – Ukraine!” The message of inclusiveness present in Gaitana’s Eurovision entry, “Be My Guest,” will make xenophobes cringe: “Welcome/ Stay with me/ Be my friend/ You are free/ To live your life/ To share your love with the world.”

Gaitana didn’t set out to problematize identity at Eurovision. But the very nature of the contest — with the singer being a symbol of the nation — frequently forces the issue. Sometimes it is explicit and conscious. Last year, Homens da Luta (Men of Struggle) dressed as working-class protesters and sang “The Struggle Is Joy,” a song calling on the Portuguese to fight austerity measures Portugal’s parliament was discussing at the time. Ahead of the contest, demonstrators sang it in the streets, making it their unofficial war anthem.

At other times, identity rears its head as a result of pressure from conservative forces. Orthodox Jews were aghast when Israeli voters selected transsexual Dana International for the contest in 1998. As conservative MPs pushed for Israel to withdraw from Eurovision, Dana’s single “Diva” transformed into a battle cry for the transgender community: it suggested they, like Dana, could find strength through struggle: “She is all you’ll ever dream to find/ On her stage she sings her story/ Pain and hurt will set her heart alight/ Like a queen in all her glory.” European voters were moved by her performance at the Eurovision final and crowned her the winner. “My victory proves God is on my side,” she said afterward. “I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness … I am part of the Jewish nation.”

Whether right-wing politicians like it or not, Gaitana is part of Ukraine. In the coming years, she says, she wants to create a women’s high-heeled soccer team and has plans to launch her own line of aprons devoted to world cooperation and unity. But for now, she has her eyes locked on Eurovision, which takes place in Azerbaijan from May 22 to May 26. “I’ve always dreamed of people living in peace and harmony so that they could be friendly toward each other and have an opportunity to visit foreign countries without obstacles and know that they would be welcomed,” she says. “I decided to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest not in order to present myself as a singer but because I want people to share my idea.”

Given the backlash Syrotyuk now faces, it looks like Gaitana is well on her way.

Yevheniya Tymoshenko

Tymoshenko’s three-day visit with her daughter ends

A three-day visit to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is imprisoned in the Kachanivska penal colony in Kharkiv, by her daughter, Yevheniya Tymoshenko, has ended.

An Interfax-Ukraine reporter said that the younger Tymoshenko left the colony at about 09.40 on March 12.

She was met by about 20 supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko, who decorated the fence around the prison with the portraits of the ex-premier. The supporters gave Tymoshenko’s daughter flowers and asked her how the visit went.

“Well. We communicated… My mom feels not bad, she’s standing firm. She’s now in better mood,” Tymoshenko said.

She confirmed that ombudsperson Nina Karpachova had visited her mother on March 11.

“Karpachova visited [the ex-premier]. She also supported my mother,” Tymoshenko said.

As reported, the leadership of the Kachanivska penal colony granted permission for Yulia Tymoshenko to have a three-day visit from her mother from March 9 to March 11. However, her mother could not take this opportunity due to poor health.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

Yanukovych invites parliament’s chairman and faction leaders for meeting

A meeting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych with Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn, his deputies and the leaders of parliamentary factions, including opposition ones, is scheduled for 14.30 on Tuesday, March 13.

According to the president’s press service, invitations to meet at the presidential administration were sent out on Monday.

A number of issues, including those raised by the leaders of the BYT-Batkivschyna and Our-Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense factions, Andriy Kozhemiakin and Mykola Martynenko, in their letter to the president dated Feb. 21, are to be discussed at the meeting.

As reported, the opposition insisted on a meeting with the president without the presence of representatives of the parliamentary majority.

“We would like the president of Ukraine to listen to our statement and find time for a meeting in the president-opposition faction format. We have something to discuss with the president of Ukraine,” Kozhemiakin stated on Monday during a meeting of the conciliatory council of the Ukrainian parliament.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Tymoshenko refuses to wear prison robe

Jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has sent a letter to penitentiary officials saying she refuses to wear prison robe and work while in detention.

“I refuse to comply with all prison regulations, including obligatory work, because I already have a job, I’m the chairman of the Batkyvshchina party,” she said, reports RIA Novosti. “I also refuse to wear a prison robe.”

Inmates of the women’s jail in Kharkov where Tymoshenko is being held are allowed to wear casual clothes in their cells, but must put on blue prison robes while working at the jail’s garment factory.

Head of Ukraine’s State Penitentiary Service, Oleksandr Lysytskov, said in late February that under the Ukrainian law, work in penal institutions “is provided for all inmates” except those who can’t work for reasons of age and health.

The former prime minister, however, may be exempt from working in prison for medical reasons. Tymoshenko’s supporters claim her health has deteriorated since her pre-trial detention began in August 2011 and that she is no longer able to walk due to back problems.

Tymoshenko was convicted of exceeding her powers as prime minister by railroading through a gas deal with Russia in 2009 which the Yanukovych leadership says saddled Ukraine with a huge price for gas that has become a millstone for the economy.

Kyiv and Tokyo

Kyiv and Tokyo should strengthen partnerships, says Ukrainian speaker

Ukraine wants to strengthen the dialogue with Japan with a view of further developing their partnerships, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Volodymyr Lytvyn has said.

At a meeting with Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihiko Noda, the Ukrainian speaker thanked the head of Japan’s government for the reception of the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation.

“We have had many high-level meetings and an interesting dialogue, which I hope will allow us to deepen our relations and give a real meaning to the idea of global partnership,” Lytvyn said.

Kyiv is looking forward to the visit of Noda because it will be the first visit in the history of bilateral relations, he added.

The speaker also expressed the hope that this year, when Ukraine and Japan celebrate the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations, the conditions will be created for the visit of the foreign minister of Japan to Ukraine.

“Ukraine seeks to comprehensively strengthen the dialogue with Japan aimed both at further development of partnership and friendly relations and the cooperation in the international arena,” Lytvyn said.

Turkmen president visit to Ukraine

President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov will make a state visit to Ukraine on March 12-14, head of the Ukrainian president’s administration Serhiy Liovochkin said.

Liovochkin said that this visit will be the first visit of the Turkmen leader to our country after a decade pause, according to the official Web site of the Ukrainian president.

“The visit is expected to promote the intensification and deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation between Ukraine and Turkmenistan, in particular in trade, economic, industrial, construction and other areas,” the press service quoted Liovochkin as saying.

The Ukrainian president’s chief of staff said that the two presidents are expected to sign a Ukrainian-Turkmen communiqué, which will reflect the principal agreements on enhancing cooperation in specific areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.

A number of bilateral documents are to be signed during the visit. These are the interstate program of trade and economic cooperation between Ukraine and Turkmenistan for 2012-2015, intergovernmental and interagency agreements aimed at expanding the Ukrainian-Turkmen cooperation, in particular in the fields of science and technology, health, sports, government communications, and inter-regional cooperation.

Ukraine and the European Union

Ukraine, EU to initial association agreement shortly, says Rada speaker

Ukraine and the European Union will initial the Association Agreement soon, and it will be ratified after a number of issues are settled, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Volodymyr Lytvyn has said.

“We have completed the work on the agreement on political association and the establishment of a comprehensive free trade area,” Lytvyn said during a lunch given by Ken Matsuzawa, President of the International Friendship Exchange Council on Friday.

“This document is ready for initialing and I expect that it will be initialed in the near future,” Lytvyn said.

The speaker noted that there were a number of issues which had to be resolved prior to signing this document. “As for the signing (of the Association Agreement), there are a number of issues on which we need to agree with the EU,” he said.

Penitentiary service

Penitentiary service: Ombudsperson confirms European level of Tymoshenko’s prison conditions

The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada’s Human Rights Commissioner Nina Karpachova has said the conditions at the Kachanivska prison in Kharkiv are up to modern European standards.

The ombudswoman visited the prison on March 11 where she spoke face to face with Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian State Penitentiary Service said.

“After the visit to the institution, Karpachova concluded that the institution and its staff, as well as the prison conditions are proper and meet the modern European standards,” the penitentiary service said.

The ombudsman was shown the main prison facilities, the prison conditions, and how meals and medical services, as well as work and leisure, were organized for female prisoners.

Lutsenkos wife

Lutsenko’s wife files appeal against Pechersky District Court verdict

The Lutsenko’s wife and defense lawyer of former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, Iryna, on filed an appeal against the verdict of Kyiv’s Pechersky District Court, according to a statement posted on the Web site of the People’s Self-Defense Party.

In her complaint, Lutsenko emphasized the characterization of her client as an individual and the health of her husband, rather than on the legal technicalities of the verdict.

She also submitted the copies of all conclusions of medical commissions of the Health Ministry that examined Lutsenko during his stay in the Lukyanivsky pre-trial detention center.

As reported, on Febr. 27, 2012, the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv found Lutsenko guilty of committing official crimes and sentenced him to four years in prison, ruling to confiscate his property.

In early March, lawyer Oleksiy Bahanets challenged Lutsenko’s verdict at the Court of Appeal of Ukraine.

He said that the court registered the appeal but found it difficult to forecast when it will be considered, as the document is lengthy, and examining it and Lutsenko’s case materials will take time.

BYT-Batkivschyna

Opposition lawmakers reject Yanukovych’s invitation for meeting.

The BYT-Batkivschyna parliamentary faction will not attend a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday.

“We will not take part in this meeting with the president on Tuesday,” Vice Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Mykola Tomenko (who was elected under BYT party list) told Interfax-Ukraine on Monday.

Tomenko also said that Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense faction also refused to attend the meeting with the president.

As reported, the opposition insisted on a meeting with the president without the presence of representatives of the parliamentary majority.

A meeting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych with Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn, his deputies and the leaders of parliamentary factions, including opposition ones, had been scheduled for 14.30 on Tuesday, March 13.

Yanukovych

In Ukraine, ‘how little has changed’ even after Orange Revolution

The heroes of the Orange Revolution — the man nearly poisoned to death and the beauty in traditional braids — inspired the world in 2004. I covered this non-violent protest and stood, with half a million others, many nights in a frigid Kiev square to hear Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko denounce the country’s corrupt regime.

Their grassroots movement overturned the rigged election of Viktor Yanukovych. Yushchenko became President and appointed Tymoshenko to be Prime Minister. Hopes lifted throughout the country, and elsewhere that Ukraine would overthrow their Soviet-style autocrats.

But today the country lurches toward bankruptcy and toward becoming a Russian vassal again. Six million have fled and the IMF has cut off credit.

Tymoshenko occupies a jail cell in a penal colony, 300 miles east of Kiev, after being sentenced for seven years on trumped up charges. Polling shows that she is Ukraine’s most popular politician.

Yushchenko, booed wherever he appears these days, occupies a Presidential palace he designed for himself, paid for by taxpayers, even though he was thrown out as President in 2010.

And Yanukovych, whose 2004 election was overturned, won in 2010 after the Orange Revolution’s heroes destroyed one another politically. He and his insiders live like Playboys in a country riven by poverty and corruption.

Those of us who followed events there wonder what happened to Eastern Europe’s Arab Spring and to the magical couple who risked everything and inspired a nation of 45 million people and the world.

These and other questions were debated and discussed at a conference this week in Ottawa, sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Experts appeared before a Parliamentary committee and before a series of influential plenary sessions to discuss issues around the theme “Ukraine at the Crossroads”.

Ukraine and Canada

Ukraine and Canada are enmeshed. The largest Ukrainian diaspora lives here, an estimated 1.5 million, and Canada was the first western nation to recognize Ukraine’s independence in 1991.

“Canada’s soft power is important in Ukraine and the country must work with the Poles and Americans and target the middle class,” said Danylo Bilak, a Canadian-Ukrainian lawyer who has lived in Kiev for 20 years.

That is what Oleh Rybachuk is doing. He worked for both the Orange Revolution’s leaders as Yushchenko’s campaign chair, Chief of Staff and Tymoshenko’s assistant. He is disgusted with them for their actions and devotes his time to developing grassroots organizations, NGOs, throughout the country to restart the Orange movement. He explained what happened.

“In August 2005, one year after the Orange Revolution, the two were fighting and I tried to broker a deal between them. Each agreed to fire three antagonistic people from their teams, hold a press conference the next day and promise not to oppose one other. It was a truce,” he said.

Tymoshenko reneged on the agreement and that night tried to muster support to remove Yushchenko. He found out and it has been war ever since between the two.

“I blame them both,” he said. “Politics is cold blooded, not a marriage. If you are seen together like they were they had no right to do this,” he said. “I resigned because the President and Prime Minister were behaving like teenagers. It was embarrassing to the country and they embarrassed Ukraine in front of NATO and the European Union which wanted to accept Ukraine in as members but needed to hear from one voice.”

In Ukraine

In Ukraine, political terms last four years, with Presidential elections alternating every two years with Parliamentary runoffs. The next one is in October and the Ottawa conference attendees intend to muster international support and recruit thousands of observers to insure that the elections are fair. After the Orange Revolution, the Canadian government and Canadian-Ukrainian community sent more observers than any other nation.

But even fair elections won’t save the day. The concern is that the country’s opposition parties are so preoccupied fending off the government’s assault on human rights, activism and press freedoms that they have been unable to organize.

“In 20 years, how little has changed. Ukraine has had various shades of democrats as leaders and now we have crooks,” said Bilak. “We have the institutionalization of a kleptocratic government.”

The only hope, and one backed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is to partner with civil society, young people and international organizations.

“It’s frustrating,” said Tom Melia, deputy assistant Secretary of State in Washington. “We talk to them [the Ukrainian government] all the time, but they’re not hearing us.”

What’s important is that Rybachuk, the Orange Revolution insider, and his colleagues are “optimistic”.

“People are not afraid. We now have 150 NGOs in all the major cities in our ‘clean up Parliament campaign’ to elect and find better parliamentarians,” he said. “People don’t watch the propaganda in the media. Facebook had 300,000 members a year ago and now has two million. The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a massive peaceful protest that worked. We want to do that again and we think we will.”

Orange Revolution

The heroes of the Orange Revolution — the man nearly poisoned to death and the beauty in traditional braids — inspired the world in 2004. I covered this non-violent protest and stood, with half a million others, many nights in a frigid Kiev square to hear Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko denounce the country’s corrupt regime.

Their grassroots movement overturned the rigged election of Viktor Yanukovych. Yushchenko became President and appointed Tymoshenko to be Prime Minister. Hopes lifted throughout the country, and elsewhere that Ukraine would overthrow their Soviet-style autocrats.

But today the country lurches toward bankruptcy and toward becoming a Russian vassal again. Six million have fled and the IMF has cut off credit.

Tymoshenko occupies a jail cell in a penal colony, 300 miles east of Kiev, after being sentenced for seven years on trumped up charges. Polling shows that she is Ukraine’s most popular politician.

Yushchenko, booed wherever he appears these days, occupies a Presidential palace he designed for himself, paid for by taxpayers, even though he was thrown out as President in 2010.

And Yanukovych, whose 2004 election was overturned, won in 2010 after the Orange Revolution’s heroes destroyed one another politically. He and his insiders live like Playboys in a country riven by poverty and corruption.

Those of us who followed events there wonder what happened to Eastern Europe’s Arab Spring and to the magical couple who risked everything and inspired a nation of 45 million people and the world.

These and other questions were debated and discussed at a conference this week in Ottawa, sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Experts appeared before a Parliamentary committee and before a series of influential plenary sessions to discuss issues around the theme “Ukraine at the Crossroads”.

Ukraine and Canada are enmeshed. The largest Ukrainian diaspora lives here, an estimated 1.5 million, and Canada was the first western nation to recognize Ukraine’s independence in 1991.

“Canada’s soft power is important in Ukraine and the country must work with the Poles and Americans and target the middle class,” said Danylo Bilak, a Canadian-Ukrainian lawyer who has lived in Kiev for 20 years.

That is what Oleh Rybachuk is doing. He worked for both the Orange Revolution’s leaders as Yushchenko’s campaign chair, Chief of Staff and Tymoshenko’s assistant. He is disgusted with them for their actions and devotes his time to developing grassroots organizations, NGOs, throughout the country to restart the Orange movement. He explained what happened.

“In August 2005, one year after the Orange Revolution, the two were fighting and I tried to broker a deal between them. Each agreed to fire three antagonistic people from their teams, hold a press conference the next day and promise not to oppose one other. It was a truce,” he said.

Tymoshenko reneged on the agreement and that night tried to muster support to remove Yushchenko. He found out and it has been war ever since between the two.

“I blame them both,” he said. “Politics is cold blooded, not a marriage. If you are seen together like they were they had no right to do this,” he said. “I resigned because the President and Prime Minister were behaving like teenagers. It was embarrassing to the country and they embarrassed Ukraine in front of NATO and the European Union which wanted to accept Ukraine in as members but needed to hear from one voice.”

In Ukraine, political terms last four years, with Presidential elections alternating every two years with Parliamentary runoffs. The next one is in October and the Ottawa conference attendees intend to muster international support and recruit thousands of observers to insure that the elections are fair. After the Orange Revolution, the Canadian government and Canadian-Ukrainian community sent more observers than any other nation.

But even fair elections won’t save the day. The concern is that the country’s opposition parties are so preoccupied fending off the government’s assault on human rights, activism and press freedoms that they have been unable to organize.

“In 20 years, how little has changed. Ukraine has had various shades of democrats as leaders and now we have crooks,” said Bilak. “We have the institutionalization of a kleptocratic government.”

The only hope, and one backed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is to partner with civil society, young people and international organizations.

“It’s frustrating,” said Tom Melia, deputy assistant Secretary of State in Washington. “We talk to them [the Ukrainian government] all the time, but they’re not hearing us.”

What’s important is that Rybachuk, the Orange Revolution insider, and his colleagues are “optimistic”.

“People are not afraid. We now have 150 NGOs in all the major cities in our ‘clean up Parliament campaign’ to elect and find better parliamentarians,” he said. “People don’t watch the propaganda in the media. Facebook had 300,000 members a year ago and now has two million. The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a massive peaceful protest that worked. We want to do that again and we think we will.”

Highland woman loves Ukraine

‘No Wal-Marts, no movie theaters … no restaurants’: Highland woman loves Ukraine.

Ashley Greve is a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine.

“I live in a small town called Kvasyliv, which is approximately the size of my hometown, Highland,” wrote Ashley, 23, in response to emailed questions. “We have no Wal-Marts, no movie theaters and no restaurants. It’s a very simple place with a school, a post office, a handful of cafes and some small locally-owned shops.

“I love Kvasyliv. It’s small enough that everyone knows me and looks out for me, and still I’m only a 20-minute bus ride from the regional center, which is considerably bigger and has lifesaving foreign products like Oreos and Haribo gummy bears.”

Ashley, a 2006 Highland High School grad, became interested in the Peace Corps during her junior year at Washington University in St. Louis.

But the seed of helping others abroad was likely planted much earlier.

“I don’t know if Ashley would admit it,” said her mom, Elizabeth Schwarz, “but part of the reason she went into the field is I was a flight attendant when Ashley was growing up. She got to see and learn about other countries from very little on.”

A junior high assignment required Ashley to research a foreign country. Elizabeth took her daughter on a three-day trip to Barcelona, exchanged money, picked up newspapers and bought souvenirs.

“Of course,” said her mom, “she got an A on the report.”

Ashley accepted her 27-month Peace Corps assignment in 2010 after earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature with a minor in Japanese languages and culture.

Eastern Europe wasn’t her first choice.

“Looking back,” wrote Ashley, “it seems that phone conversation in which I had to confirm my commitment to the cause and not the location — to the Peace Corps and not some other program — was a defining moment in my life.”

Ashley is the daughter of Jon Greve, and has a sister, Shandy Greve Penrod, who lives in Collinsville.

Ashley is due back later this year.

“My dream is to attend the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in Denver to get my M.A. in Human Rights,” she wrote.

We asked her about life in the Peace Corps.

What do you do in an average day? “I wake up at 7. I teach three to six 45-minute English lessons per day, and then I go home for a late lunch around 2 or 3.

“In the evenings, I plan lessons or other community projects or call friends and family on Skype (I do have Internet, just fast enough to use Skype if I don’t utilize the video option and if it isn’t raining). This is sometimes tricky because the time difference is eight hours.

“Other times, I hang out with nearby American friends, or with my Ukrainian friends and colleagues, many of whom have accepted me into their homes and families. When I spend time with my Ukrainian friends, we usually go for walks around town. That way you can be together, get some fresh air and exercise, and you don’t spend any money.”

What kind of food do you eat? “Dinner I make from scratch, so I’ve learned how to make everything from Chinese fried rice to cinnamon rolls. I also eat Ukrainian foods. … Last night I had kotletta, which is chicken cutlet dipped in egg and fried, with mashed potatoes and a grated beet salad.”

What reaction do you get when people learn you’re in the Peace Corps? “A wide variety of reactions. Some think it’s wonderful. Many feel proud to have an American in their community. A few have disliked me from the moment they heard English coming from my mouth, but most just want to know why I’m here. …”

Biggest challenges? “Struggling to learn the language is a big one, as is accepting the fact that I can’t always express myself the way I would like to. I’ve also had to develop a sense of humor about my life. If the bus you’re on stalls every quarter-mile and the driver just keeps restarting the engine to go another quarter-mile, you have to laugh about it.

What do you tell others interested in the Peace Corps? “The challenges will be many, but so will the rewards. I can almost guarantee that you will reach new emotional lows when you’re homesick and everything is going wrong and you don’t understand why or have the language to ask.

“On the other hand, I can definitely guarantee that you will learn new things and gain a completely new way of looking at the world. Sure, I’ve had some rough days, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

What’s the most fulfilling project you’ve been part of? “A series of day camps focusing on gender issues such as healthy relationships, self-esteem and body image, human trafficking and more. These topics are very important to me, and I am honored to be in charge of this project.”

What do you miss? “I miss the way people shake your hand when they meet you for the first time. I miss hot sauce. I miss having a car and roads without potholes. I miss being surrounded by people who believe in their own political efficacy — no matter your political stance.

“I miss my friends and family. Care packages really help with this; when my family sends me a new jar of peanut butter or a bottle of my favorite shampoo, I get really excited.

“(But) the longer I’m here, the less I miss home. A big part of my life is here now. I have my favorite cafes, students that I love, meaningful projects, and friends that will be with me in one way or another for the rest of my life.

“I didn’t choose Ukraine, and my time here hasn’t always been easy, but Ukraine is a part of me now, and I like to think that in some small way, I am also a part of Ukraine.”

Ukrainian children

Summer camp auction benefits Ukrainian children.

In his former life, Lloyd Cenaiko was a commercial real estate developer in Saskatchewan and Arizona.

“In 1994 I made a trip to Ukraine with my parents to see the birthplace of my father and to visit our relatives,” says the president of HART (Humanitarian Aid Response Teams). “I was shocked at the level of poverty my relatives were living in and after returning to Canada, I gave up a lucrative real estate practice in Arizona to focus on helping the country of Ukraine.

“In the past 18 years our little organization has grown to the point where we are affecting thousands of children and families each year through our relief aid, micro-finance, medical-dental, anti-human trafficking and missions projects, mostly in Ukraine but also in Belarus, Moldova and Romania.”

HART’s 10th anniversary summer camp auction takes place Friday at the Centre Street Church, 3900 2nd St. N.E., with doors open at 5 p.m. for the silent auction, and dinner beginning at 6 p.m.

The purpose of the auction is to help HART send 3,000 underprivileged children from Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus to summer camps.

“Attending a summer camp can be a life-changing experience for these children . . . truly an oasis from their otherwise difficult lives,” Cenaiko says. “Who goes to camp? Street kids, boys from prison, kids with special needs, kids from families living in poverty, children from Gypsy villages. It is a great cause and the best part (is that) 100 per cent of the funds raised are used to send kids to camps.”

The fundraising evening features silent and live auctions; Ukrainian dinner; a video-photo presentation; a guest speaker from Ukraine; live painting performance by Lewis Lavoie; and Ukrainian dancers.

Tickets are $30 each or $240 for a table of eight.

For more information and tickets, contact the HART office at 403-230-8263 or e-mail tickets@ hart.ca.

Ukraine “is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Every facet of life there’s corruption. People steal,” Cenaiko says. “And the people we work with in those countries are so incredible as they’re trying to change their country. The whole objective of sending these thousands to kids to summer camps, if we’re going to change these countries, we have to change the hearts and the souls of the people.

“That’s where the faith element comes in,” he says. “We know that if we can raise a generation of kids that are growing up with morals and ethics and just biblically based faith, we’re going to be able to change that country someday.

“Protestant churches are invited into the high school systems all over the country to talk to the teenage kids about drugs and alcohol and HIV and anti-human trafficking. And part of what we do is to facilitate those volunteers going into the high schools. Tens of thousands of high school kids are hearing about issues like this from a biblically based foundation,” Cenaiko says. “Our objective is just to impact the thousands of children and eventually somehow kind of change the hearts and minds of the people in that country.”

David Haye Vitali Klischko

David Haye vs. Vitali Klischko ‘Show’ Begins

By Vitali Shaposhnikov: David Haye has recently announced that Vitali Klitschko has finally agreed to fight in some time in the summer. “Vitali has just finally agreed to fight me in a live RTL interview!!! He told me I will be his next fight!! Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!!!” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/mar/04/david-haye-vitali-klitschko)

“Yes I would be happy to fight David Haye. I understand David Haye had to defend himself. It’s not just street fighting. It’s very important to have respect,” was what Vitali commented regarding the prospective bout and his challenger.

After his lackluster performance against Vitali’s brother Wladimir, most people are not too enthusiastic about seeing Haye back in the ring. At the same time, a whole lot of people believe that the older brother will achieve what the younger was unable to accomplish” knock David Haye out.

I assume that the fight build up will be impressive, and Haye will be his old self, talking like a pro. He will make promises and try to convince the public that he will do to the older brother what he promised to do to the younger one, a knockout. The fight, if ever comes to fruition, will undoubtedly be of interest just for its recent historical development, and financially it will be successful.

Of course as most fights go, claims of avoidance and unjust conduct will fly.

“I have offered Dave Haye the opportunity to fight for the world title. I need Haye to say ‘yes,’” said Vitali Klitschko in a recent interview.

Still, Haye believes that team Klitschko will do everything to prevent the fight from happening: “I think Vitali wants to fight me, because he has got a lot of pride. But I think he’s had a lot of money invested in him to become the mayor of Kiev, and potentially the president of Ukraine, and his advisers, and the people who do his negotiating aren’t going to let Vitali’s ego get in the way of something that could potentially cost him tens of millions of pounds. There is so much riding on his political career, he wants to fight guys like Dereck Chisora, who he can guarantee a victory over. Fighting me is not in his interests. The word in Ukraine is that his people cannot afford for him to lose against me, or not knock me out, as he has told the Ukrainian people he will do what his brother could not do and knock me out.”
(http://www.worldboxingnews.net/2012/03/haye-advisers-may-divert-vitali-from.html)

“I’ve already agreed the finances for the fight. But all of a sudden I am asking for too much money and supposedly making crazy demands. I have agreed to one of my lowest purses for a heavyweight title fight. I understand I’m not the champion now so I can’t demand the type of money I would as champion,” mentioned Haye.

Money talks, and money walks: there is no way Haye was perfectly fine with getting ripped off in any fight. He, just like most other athletes, is mostly interested in maximizing his payday. To do this, he has to create public interest in the fight, thus make emotional waves for the media. Slowly, this ‘show’ is picking up, and I assure you we will start seeing a ton of coverage on this fight.

While I don’t think that Haye will be more competitive against Vitali than he was against Wladimir, I still would like to see this fight happen. Who knows maybe Haye could perform better and provide his fans with an entertaining fight?

Tymoshenko

The daughter of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko says her mother’s life is now at risk after President Viktor Yanukovich “crossed a fine line” when he rejected all early chances of compromise to free her.

In an interview, Yevgenia Tymoshenko urged the West to consider applying personal sanctions against officials of the Yanukovich leadership, such as visa bans, to stop it driving Ukraine further into isolation in Europe.

Tymoshenko, Yanukovich’s arch-rival who was twice prime minister, is serving a seven-year jail sentence for abuse of office following a trial widely seen as a settling of scores between rival groups of influence in the ex-Soviet republic.

The United States and the European Union say the trial was politically motivated; in December the EU withheld completion of agreements on political association and a free trade zone with Ukraine in protest over her jailing.

But despite diplomatic pressure from EU countries for her release, fresh criminal cases have been opened against her by justice officials and she has been moved from police detention in Kiev to a remote prison camp some 500 km (310 miles) east.

“It (the situation) is unpredictable now … They have crossed the line where my mother’s life now is at risk,” said Yevgenia, speaking in English in Kiev at the riverside headquarters of her mother’s party, Batkivshchyna.

“This line is a kind of fine line and once the regime crossed it we do not know now what could be the consequence of this war … against political opponents. The regime is doing all it can to break her morale, to break her psychologically.”

Tymoshenko’s husband, Olexander, took asylum in the Czech Republic earlier this month out of fear he also was about to be arrested, leaving the English-educated, 31-year-old Yevgenia the only close relative left in Kiev.

Yevgenia

Yevgenia, who is married to a British rock singer, now makes a six-hour car trip from Kiev to the prison in Kharkiv twice a week to see her mother, whose health and conditions are the subject of an information battle between her lawyers and officials.

Yevgenia says her mother is in constant pain from a recurring back problem and has not been able to get up unaided since early November.

“The health ministry denies this. They say she does not require medical treatment, that she needs exercise. When I see her, I have to pick her up. I have to move her, to help her stand up and it is evident that any slight movement causes very sharp pain,” she said. “She is much paler and weaker.”

The family has also complained that she is under constant surveillance from a video camera with a light on in her cell round the clock.

“The video camera is a microscopic one that can see what she is writing in bed. Whatever she writes they can see and this causes a lot of psychological, moral strain …,” said Yevgenia.

The charismatic 51-year-old Yulia Tymoshenko, a political power-house, was the field marshal of the Orange Revolution street protests which thwarted Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency in 2005.

Though self-confident and equally stylish, Yevgenia is far less forceful than her mother and denies media reports that she has ambitions to step into her mother’s shoes.

“I am far from being a public person. I see my mother continuing her political career … She is the one in our family who is going to continue this,” she said.

Yanukovich

All the same, she does not shy from criticizing the Yanukovich leadership’s record, repeating the mantra of her mother that its policies are alienating Ukraine within Europe.

“It seems like there are deliberate attempts by the Yanukovich regime to isolate Ukraine from the European Union,” she said. “Only some direct action now can signal to the Yanukovich regime that they are going in the wrong direction.”

She urged the West to restrict access to visas and foreign bank accounts for senior Ukrainian officials and investigate high-level corruption. “The only way to change the way the regime is acting now is by direct sanctions … some sort of personal pressure,” she said.

Tymoshenko was convicted of exceeding her powers as prime minister by railroading through a gas deal with Russia in 2009 which the Yanukovich leadership says saddled Ukraine with a huge price for gas that has become a millstone for the economy.

Political insiders say her prosecution was driven by Yanukovich who has been Tymoshenko’s political enemy since the Orange Revolution overturned his election as president.

He later made a comeback and narrowly beat Tymoshenko for the presidency in 2010 after a bitter campaign.

Ukrainian hockey 4

An elite Ukrainian hockey coach accused of fondling a teen attending clinics in the U.S. frequently traveled with his charges, transporting them from city to city for camps and tournaments, according to court documents.

Ivan Pravilov, a mentor to several NHL and college players, will spend a week in detention before a Jan. 27 bail hearing, a federal magistrate ruled Friday.

Pravilov, 48, voiced concerns for the 20 or so players visiting the U.S. this month to train with him and asked for an earlier hearing date.

Ukrainian hockey 3

The players stay with host families and are being cared for, according to a team assistant in the courtroom who declined to give his name.

Pravilov was charged Tuesday with fondling a boy at his Philadelphia apartment as the 14-year-old slept near a teammate. The teammate, also 14, was slapped and threatened by Pravilov for later publicizing the Jan. 3 incident, according to court documents. The allegations reached authorities when a host parent reported it.

The charges come less than a month after Maxim Starchenko, one of Pravilov’s former players, published a book alleging the coach regularly abused team members physically, mentally and sexually.

Pravilov faces six to eight years in prison if convicted of taking a minor over a state line for sexual purposes. He had taken the two teens to his apartment from the home of a host family in Wilmington, Del. A public defender will be appointed for him based on his financial need, the magistrate said.

The website for the coach’s hockey school, Ivan Pravilov’s Unique Hockey School, says it held camps throughout the East Coast last summer.

New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus is one of his more famous proteges. Zubrus left his native Lithuania as a boy to play for Pravilov in Ukraine and made the NHL by 18, according to his mother, Irene Zubriene. She and her son, now 33, remain close to Pravilov, and the coach uses her Cherry Hill, N.J., home as a mail drop, she said.

Pravilov brings young hockey players to the U.S. for about a month at a time to train, play in tournaments and perhaps catch the eye of a college or NHL scout, Zubriene said Friday. She said she has often had a dozen or more players stay in her downstairs living area, while Pravilov slept in an upstairs bedroom.

Ukrainian hockey 2

She said she doesn’t believe the allegations and suspects they stem from lingering rivalries in the Ukraine.

“It’s not true. It’s not true,” Zubriene, 60, who saw Pravilov last week, told The Associated Press during an interview Friday at her home. “He’s a good man.”

Starchenko, 33, tells a different story. In a phone interview from suburban Detroit, he said people feared Pravilov. Now, Starchenko said, he hoped his book “Behind the Iron Curtain: Tears in the Perfect Hockey ‘Gulag’” would spur other players to come forward.

“I think it’s going to start snowballing like crazy,” Starchenko told The Associated Press.

Starchenko played for Pravilov’s Druzhba 78 team from the time he was 8 until he was 17.

Pravilov lost his job at a school in Kharkov several years ago and came to the U.S., Zubriene said. He has a U.S. visa through June despite an Interpol warrant seeking his arrest over a 2007 assault in the Ukraine that involved several men, according to court papers.

Pravilov last entered the United States in June 2007, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss details of the case. The Interpol alert was issued later in 2007.

Ukrainian hockey

Ukrainian hockey coach held in Pa. fondling case

Pravilov had been holding practices with Ukrainian boys at The Rink at Old York Road in Elkins Park since November, rink general manager and hockey director Justin Adamski Sr. said Thursday.

Pravilov coached at rinks throughout the area in exchange for free ice time, Adamski said.

Adamski said he never saw anything inappropriate going on between Pravilov and the boys, who were mostly between the ages of 12 and 15.

“We were giving him ice time to skate,” Adamski said.

Pravilov’s school had about a dozen players practicing at the same rink on Friday. A coach working with the players declined comment, saying he did not speak English.

Two vans bearing the school’s logo were parked outside the rink.

Rink officials declined to discuss the matter on Friday, referring questions to a management company.

A woman who helped host families in the United States said she knew Pravilov well, having volunteered her time for the boys.

“It’s still very hard to comprehend everything,” Denise Reid said. “We’re devastated. We’re worried for the boys.”

A coach at Pravilov’s school in Ukraine declined to give his name and wouldn’t comment. The Interior Ministry, which oversees the Ukrainian branch of Interpol, had no comment.

Ukrainian Coach

Ukrainian Coach who visited Medford arrested on sex charges

A Ukrainian hockey coach, whose team played an exhibition hockey game against Medford High at LoConte Rink last month, has been arrested accused of allegedly committing sexual acts with a 14-year-old boy, federal investigators say.

According to the Associated Press, Ivan Pravilov, head coach of the Druzhba 78, a U16 Ukraine Elite boys hockey team, is alleged to have committed sexual acts with a boy visiting in the United States and attending hockey clinics, according to a criminal complaint.

Pravilov was arrested on charges of traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with a minor, the AP reported.

Pravilov and Druzhba 78 faced off against Medford High boys hockey team in an exhibition game Dec. 17 at LoConte Rink. The game was part of the Druzhba 78s tour of the United States, playing against a number of American teams as part of a Friendship Exhibition series.

“It’s a special time of year,” Pravilov told the Transcript at the time. “This is a national team and there are not many opportunities to play at this level. [It was a] good opportunity, if you don’t have good opportunities you can’t grow, you can’t improve, which is why we came here.”

Ukrainian

Ukrainian sex pest could face deportation

AN illegal immigrant has been found guilty of sexually touching a women without her consent in a city street.

Yuriy Narovskiy, aged 31, denied the attack outside the Co-op in Angel Street, Worcester. However, magistrates said they believed the victim who said he touched her intimately as she was walking along the road.

Narovskiy, of Alma Street, Worcester, had claimed he only touched her hip after mistaking her for an acquaintance called Anastasia.

Narovskiy was sentenced to three months in prison – which he had already served on remand.

At Worcester Magistrates Court, the tearful victim said she was out in Worcester with friends on Saturday November 26, and had been to the Courtyard, Lloyds No 1 and Tramps.

She said she had drunk two or three glasses of wine and was wearing a dress, a long cardigan and no tights.

The court heard the friends were walking towards McDonald’s at about 1.30am when they passed a group of men with shaven heads.

She said: “One of the men went behind me and put his hand up my dress, touching me. It felt like it went on forever, it was probably seconds.” The women said she turned to confront Narovskiy.

She said: “I could see his face and his friends laughing and sneering. I asked him who he thought he was to do that.”

Police officers on patrol in Angel Place drove the victim around the city and arrested Narovskiy in Foregate Street.

The court also heard from a friend of the victim, who did not see the attack but described the victim’s reaction.

Another friend said he saw the attack but Laura Culley, defending, called his evidence “tainted” after he admitted talking to the victim before giving his statement.

Both witnesses said the group of friends were drunk.

Under oath, Narovskiy said he touched the victim but not as she described. He said he had drunk three or four pints of Stella but was not drunk.

He said: “I would not allow anything like that to happen or even think about it. I have a wife and child.” Miss Culley claimed the victim may have “overreacted” because she had been drinking.

Narovskiy had been in Britain for four years working on building sites and had no previous convictions here or in the Ukraine. He will have to sign the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

However, he was due to be returned to prison to face immigration officials.

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