Editor’s Note: The following is the Jan. 3 edition of the Kyiv Independent’s newsletter, Ukraine Daily. If you would like to receive news about Ukraine in your mailbox six days a week subscribe here.
Covid-19 in Ukraine
Omicron to peak in Ukraine in February. Ukraine is likely to face a new wave of Covid-19 cases, caused by the new highly transmissible strain Omicron. The wave will start mid-January and likely peak in mid-February, according to Deputy Health Minister Ihor Kuzin.
Kyiv Boryspil Airport eases restrictions. Persons accompanying travelers are once again allowed to enter the airport’s terminal – for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mask-wearing remains mandatory inside the airport.
Russia’s war against Ukraine
Biden, Zelensky held a phone call on Jan. 2. Biden reassured Zelensky that the U.S. will stick to the principle “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” basically promising that there won’t be an agreement between the U.S. and Russia behind Ukraine’s back.
Tensions between U.S, Russia continue. After a phone conversation between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Dec. 30, a group of 24 former U.S. national security officials and Russia experts released a statement calling on Biden to publicly lay out the penalties Russia would face if Putin were to move forward with military action against Ukraine. A top Russian official condemned the idea, saying it would disrupt the U.S.-Russia negotiations.
Ukraine closes inland waters to Russian ships. After over seven years of war, Ukraine has banned Russia from using its river navigation routes and ports.
More casualties. Ukrainian paratrooper Stanislav Bohuslavsky was killed in shelling in the Donbas on Dec. 31. Another soldier, Ihor Tychyna, 20, died on Jan. 1 after being heavily wounded on Dec. 27. Both were killed despite the so-called “Christmas armistice.”
See also: At least 79 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in 2021 by Russian and Russia-backed separatist troops. Here’s what we know about some of them.
Head of Ukraine’s ‘FBI’ appointed after ‘fake’ contest. Anti-corruption activists condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s appointment of Oleksiy Sukhachov as head of the State Investigation Bureau, the Ukrainian agency in charge of investigating crimes of top officials. Activists said Zelensky used the holiday lull to appoint his loyalist in violation of procedure.
Zelensky’s party reportedly considers rebranding. Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing several sources in Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, that due to falling ratings the party is considering changing its name. The party’s spokeswoman denied it.
Nationalists march for Bandera's birthday. Like every year, thousands of Ukrainian nationalists marched with torches in Kyiv and other cities on Jan. 1 to mark the birthday of Stepan Bandera, the controversial nationalist leader of the 1940s. The embassy of Israel in Ukraine condemned the procession.
Central bank tightens capital requirements for banks. The new requirements aim to shore up banks’ resilience to potential crises. The changes were announced earlier and came into force on Jan. 1. See the new requirements.
‘Anti-Akhmetov’ tax law comes into force. The notorious law No. 5600 that envisions a number of important tax amendments came into force on Jan. 1. It became conversely known as the “anti-Akhmetov law” because it will raise the iron ore extraction tax, which mainly impacts Ukraine’s main oligarch Rinat Akhmetov.
New real estate tax. The same law (see above) also raises taxes on real estate. As before, one piece of real estate per year can be sold tax-free, while the second is taxed at 5%. Now, every next sale will come with an 18% tax on net income, as opposed to a previous rate of 5%. This does not include inherited properties.
New 5% tax for agricultural producers. The same law introduces a minimum tax for agricultural producers. Starting Jan. 1, the sum of all taxes paid by any agricultural producer can’t be lower than 5% of the value of the farmland that the producer owns or rents.