Editor’s Note: The following is the latest 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.
Russia’s war against Ukraine
What we’re watching: The NATO-Russia Council meeting on Jan. 12, the OSCE Permanent Council on Jan. 13.
Diplomacy week kicks off as US, Russia meet to discuss Ukraine. U.S. Deputy State Secretary Wendy Sherman held an eight-hour-long security discussion with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, in Geneva on Jan. 10. Both diplomats characterized the meeting as “businesslike” and straightforward. Sherman said it was not so much a negotiation, but rather a conversation to understand each others’ concerns.
2 Ukrainian soldiers killed in Donbas. The Ukrainian military reported that two of its servicemen were killed by an unknown explosive device in the Donbas on Jan. 10. Russia’s war in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 13,000 people since its start in 2014.
Chicago rallies against Russian aggression in Ukraine. Organized by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Illinois Chapter, the rally protested against Russian aggression and threats to invade Ukraine on Jan. 9. It brought together representatives of the Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, Belarus, and Kazakh communities in Chicago. The event was attended by Congressman Danny Davis and Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois.
Lithuania to increase military assistance to Ukraine. According to LRT, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said that Lithuania has approved a new plan on military support for Ukraine. The country will increase the number of instructors for its training mission of Ukrainian servicemen, will supply thermographic cameras to Ukraine and continue to provide treatment of injured Ukrainian soldiers.
Pandemic in Ukraine
Ukraine to reduce validity of Covid-19 certificates from 12 to 9 months. Deputy Health Minister Maria Karchevych announced on Jan. 10 that Ukraine will shorten the validity period of Covid-19 vaccine certificates from a full year to 270 days. Karchevych said that the decision will likely be made “sometime this week.”
Health Ministry to organize rural vaccination campaign. The Health Ministry will establish 800 mobile vaccination teams in order to vaccinate rural communities against Covid-19, according to an announcement by the President’s Office.
Ukrainians spend vaccine rewards on books, movies. Ukrainians have spent over $36 million (Hr 1 billion) in reward money offered under the government program which gives each citizen $36 (Hr 1,000) for getting vaccinated against Covid-19. According to the Economy Ministry, over $13 million of this money was spent at bookstores, with a further $11 million spent at cinemas.
Government to start paying vaccination reward money to Ukrainians under 18. Under the state program that encourages Ukrainians to get vaccinated, the government will also start making the Hr 1,000 ($36) payments to Ukrainians aged 12-18. Previously, only adults could receive the cash. The reward money can be spent on movies, museums, concerts, fitness and domestic travel.
Court extends Medvedchuk’s house arrest in treason case. Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court extended pro-Kremlin lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk’s house arrest for two months. In October Medvedchuk, a co-leader of the pro-Kremlin Opposition Platform-For Life party, was charged with treason and financing terrorism.
Inflation reaches 10% in 2021 in Ukraine, its highest point since 2017. The biggest increase in prices concerned gas, electricity, and food, according to the State Statistics Service. Gas prices increased by 66% and electricity by over 34%, while food prices rose by over 10%. Soaring natural gas prices in Europe mainly accounted for the sharp increase in energy prices.
Supreme Court cancels Ukrzaliznytsia’s $27 million (Hr 750 million) debt to Akhmetov-controlled company. The court stated that Ukrzaliznytsya isn’t the main owner of its subsidiary Donetsk Railway, and thus should be exempted from paying its debts. This decision overturns the verdict of June 2020 recognizing Ukrzaliznytsia as the successor to Donetsk Railway since 2015. Ukraine’s richest man Rinat Akhmetov owns the majority stake in the company that sued Ukrzaliznytsia for the debt.
Court bans Citrus gadget retailer from using the brand, website amid co-owners dispute. A long-running corporate conflict between the co-owners of Citrus Gennady Korban and Grigory Topal led to a court decision on Jan. 10 banning the retailer from using the Citrus brand and website. The company said that it considered the verdict to be void and will appeal against it.
Region: Kazakhstan protests
After long silence, Ukraine makes its first tepid statement on violence in Kazakhstan. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry put out a statement on Jan. 10 condemningthe violence during the anti-government protests in Kazakhstan over the past week, surprising many with the communiqué’s cautiousness and lateness.