Ukraine. The corruption in the Ukrainian judiciary came
into focus when the lawyer and human rights lawyer Iryna
Nozdrovska was murdered in January. According to
Countryaah.com, Nozdrovska had long
worked with a case involving her sister, who was killed by a
drug-affected driver, related to a high judge. The driver
had been sentenced to seven years in prison but appealed,
and his father had threatened Nozdrovska. The country's
foreign minister described the murder of Nozdrovska as a
challenge to the state and a test of justice.
The fighting in eastern Ukraine flared up again and again
during the year. In January, three Ukrainian soldiers were
killed and in May about ten casualties were reported. In
June, an armistice was entered into between Ukrainian forces
and the Prorean separatists, and it was motivated by the
fact that the grain harvest must be sustained. Despite the
ceasefire, fighting again broke out in August, when five
Ukrainian soldiers were killed and several wounded. During
the fall, there were also fights with casualties.
The fighting made life difficult for the population in
many ways. At the beginning of the year, close to 2 million
people lost their mobile connection after a cable was
damaged. The risk of strikes prevented repairs.
In January, the Kiev Parliament adopted a resolution
calling for the war in eastern Ukraine to be a temporary
Russian occupation. President Petro Poroshenko said that the
areas occupied by Russian-backed separatists should be
reintegrated, prompting Moscow to accuse Ukraine of
preparing for a new war. At the beginning of the year,
Ukraine received clearance from the United States for the
purchase of more than 200 anti-aircraft missiles, among
Georgia's President Micheil Saakashvili was deported from
Ukraine to Poland in February. Saakashvili, who was for a
time governor of Ukrainian Odessa, had led an opposition
movement against President Poroshenko.
In March, Russian Gazprom held promised gas deliveries to
Ukraine, which created major problems in the severe cold
with closed schools and industries. Ukrainian Naftogaz
received extra gas supplies from Poland, Slovakia and
Hungary, which solved the crisis. During the year, the EU
extended its sanctions against individuals and companies in
eastern Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The sanctions
were imposed because of the Russian annexation of Crimea in
Before the Russian presidential election, Vladimir Putin
visited the annexed Crimea to speak. According to official
data, Putin received over 92% of the votes in Crimea and 90%
in the naval base Sevastopol. The fact that the Russian
elections were conducted in annexed territory caused the EU
to react with sanctions against those responsible for the
Crimean electoral authorities.
In March, in coordination with the EU, Ukraine expelled
13 Russian diplomats after the British government accused
the Kremlin of being behind the nerve gas attack against a
former Russian spy and his daughter in England.
In May, President Putin inaugurated a bridge linking the
Russian mainland to the annexed Crimea. The bridge, with its
19 kilometers, is Europe's longest. Putin described the
bridge building as a miracle when he drove a truck across
the bridge at the head of a construction caravan. Ukraine's
Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman, in turn, described the
bridge building to the occupied and annexed Crimea as a
violation of international law. The EU and the US have
imposed sanctions on those responsible for bridge
construction, including the oligarch and Putin friend
Arkadij Rotenberg, whose companies were allowed to build the
bridge. According to
Digopaul.com, Kiev is the capital of Ukraine.
The Russian news agency Ria's office in Kiev was searched
by Ukrainian authorities in May and the head of the office
was arrested accused of leading a Russian information war.
Several journalists had previously been arrested or deported
on similar charges. Later, Ria was banned from working in
Ukraine for three years.
Moscow-critical journalist and Russian citizen Arkady
Babchenko was reportedly murdered in Kiev in May. The next
day, he appeared alive at a press conference and said he had
been subjected to a murder threat and that it was the cause
of the fake murder.
Ukrainian journalist Roman Susichchenko was sentenced in
June in Russian court to 12 years in prison accused of
spying on the Russian military on behalf of Ukraine.
Susitchenko, who has been detained for two years, had
reportedly criticized the Russian war against Ukraine.
In June, the Ukrainian parliament decided on a special
corruption court, but at the same time voted against the
anti-corruption finance minister Oleksandr Danyljuk. He
claimed that influential politicians tried to get him to
approve grants that would be used to get votes in the
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, convicted in the
Russian Federation accused of terrorism, hunger strikes
during the year close to five months in prison. During the
autumn, Sentsov was awarded the European Parliament's human
rights prize, the Sakharov Prize.
In August, the State Prosecutor of Ukraine pleaded for 15
years in prison to former President Viktor Yanukovych. He
was charged with treason by assisting Moscow in annexing
Ukrainian territory when he was deposed as Ukrainian
president in 2014. Yanukovych is in exile on Russian soil.
In August, the World Health Organization designated
Ukraine as a risk country for measles since 23,000 cases
were reported during the first half of the year. Eight
people had died of the disease, and only a small proportion
of the population were vaccinated against measles.
In August, the Prorussian separatist leader Aleksandr
Zacharchenko was killed in a bomb attack in Donetsk, eastern
Ukraine. Moscow accused the Kiev government, which denied
involvement. According to journalists Zacharchenko's funeral
in Donetsk, more than 30,000 people attended, while local
authorities claimed 100,000.
The Ukrainian economy was hard pressed by the war.
Defense spending amounted to at least 5% of GDP and was
expected to increase as the soldiers were promised a
significant pay rise, the fleet would be expanded and
robotic systems and armored vehicles purchased.
After Ukraine fulfilled the requirement to set up a
corruption court, the country was promised by the EU a new
loan of EUR 1 billion, to be added to a previous loan of EUR
1.2 billion. The IMF put out a loan of $ 4 billion, which
was conditional on, among other things, increased gas prices
The military and political conflict between the Russian
Federation and Ukraine also had consequences for the church.
Following pressure from President Poroshenko, an East
Orthodox church meeting in Istanbul in October decided to
recognize Ukraine's Orthodox Church as independent from the
Moscow Patriarchate. As a result, the Russian Orthodox
Church broke with the Patriarchate in Istanbul. Ukraine's
church had been under Russian since the 17th century, but
today's Russian church leadership has close ties to
President Putin and supports the annexation of Crimea.
In September, the Lviv regional parliament in western
Ukraine decided to ban the use of the Russian language in
literature, music and other culture until the Russian
occupation of Crimea was lifted. The decision received wide
criticism. President Poroshenko advocated another
controversial bill that would force Prorean organizations in
Ukraine to register as foreign agents. It is a mirror of a
similar Russian law.
In October, 20 people were killed by an armed teenager at
a school in the city of Kerj in Crimea. Nine of the victims
were minors. The 18-year-old offender had firearms and
The land around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has not
been used for cultivation due to the radioactivity in the
area. In October, therefore, a solar energy park was opened
there, which will provide electricity to a couple of
In November, 33-year-old anti-corruption activist
Kateryna Handzjuk passed away after being attacked with acid
during the summer. Five men had been arrested on suspicion
of the attack. Disease had made itself known for its fight
against corruption in its hometown of Kherson in southern
In the rebel-controlled breakaway republics of Donetsk
and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, elections were held in
November. The elections were condemned in Kiev and by the EU
as illegal and invalid.
In the fall, Kiev accused Moscow of disrupting Ukrainian
maritime traffic through the strait where the Russian bridge
was built to Crimea. In November, Russian coastguards fired
Ukrainian naval vessels that would pass in the Kerch Strait
from the Black Sea to the Azovsk Lake, a waterway where most
of Ukraine's exports and imports go. Several Ukrainian
soldiers were wounded, Russian military seized three vessels
and one Russian tanker was stationed under the bridge to
The President of Ukraine announced a state of emergency,
accused Moscow of armed aggression and demanded the release
of captured prisoners. Moscow claimed that the Ukrainian
ships illegally entered Russian waters. The condemnation
came from the EU and the US against Moscow with the
invitation to release crewmen and ships. As a result of the
state of emergency, Ukraine decided to close its border to
Russian male citizens between the ages of 16 and 60.
Statistics during the year showed that Ukrainians now
receive by far the most residence permits in the EU. In
2017, three times as many Ukrainians as Syrians received
residence permits in EU countries, most in Poland.