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, Kiev is the capital city of Ukraine, a country located in Eastern Europe. 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 other things.
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 2014.
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 regions.
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 to households.
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 explosives.
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 thousand households.
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 Ukraine.
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 prevent passage.
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.