Ukrainian Diary – digest of the most important news over the past week (audio)

Ukrainian Diary – digest of the most important news over the past week (audio)

1.Countering Russian hybrid warfare tops the agenda of Ukraine’s Interior Minister’s visit to the United States

The issue of countering Russian hybrid warfare tops the agenda of Ukraine’s Interior Minister’s visit to the United States. On Monday Arsenal Avakov came to Washington to meet with officials of the U.S. Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The five-day visit program also includes a visit to the FBI Academy in Quantico, as well as a series of meetings on joint actions between U.S. and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in the fight against organized crime. “The aim of this visit is to strengthen our cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in such an important issue as combating organized crime, in particular Russian crime, and counteracting its influence on processes in the world, as well as in Ukraine. This is very important, given the events in Salisbury, chemical attacks on the peaceful population in Syria, interference with electoral processes and cyber threats,” said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. In addition, he said that it is planned to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation between the National Police of Ukraine and the Drug Enforcement Administration of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In the meantime, United States' Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that the Trump administration would announce more sanctions against Russia.  Haley also said the response by the Trump administration was "cumulative," taking into account not only the recent chemical weapons attack in Douma, but also other, smaller, attacks. The action, she added, came after diplomatic options had been exhausted.  "If you look at what Russia is doing, they continue to be involved with all the wrong actors, whether their involvement in Ukraine, whether you look at how they are supporting Venezuela, whether you look in Syria and their way of propping up Assad and working with Iran, that continues to be a problem," Haley said, adding that the use of a poisoning agent against a spy in England is "another issue." She added that Russia is feeling the effects of U.S. actions including "the sanctions that are continuing to happen, which you'll see again on Monday."

2.Dynamics at the Donbas warzone: weekly roundup

Throughout the past week the situation in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine remained fragile. The number of enemy strikes recorded daily by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense remains high, causing injuries and fatal casualties among the Ukrainian military personnel. The highest number of strikes by Russia-backed militants was recorded on Monday. Among this week’s hot spots were the village of Luhanske, the town of Svitlodarsk, Pisky, Butivka coalmine and many other spots along the engagement line. At critical situations, Ukrainian servicemen were forced to fire back, according to reports by the Defense Ministry. Residential areas in the village of Zaitseve were shelled from artillery on Wednesday. The intensity of enemy fire relatively decreased on Friday.

Via Skype from Eastern Ukraine on Friday Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM reported on the current figures of ceasefire violations, trying yet again to draw the attention to civilians who live in vicinity of the contact line. He emphasized on the failure to demine and stressed on the danger that mines and unexploded ordnance hidden in the vegetation present to the locals. He also reminded about the grave consequences of the damage to civilian infrastructure that warfare presumes in the Donbas region. “On Tuesday this week Voda Donbassa employees were again fired upon in Yasynuvata. These are the same people who for the past 4 years ensured that that the Donetsk filtration station remained operational. These are the brave men and women who, in spite being shot at and shelled, have ensured that more than 300 000 people on both sides of the contact line have had clean drinking water. There are, however, limits to the endurance. Tuesday’s attack on these workers has left 5 of them in hospital, 1 critically injured. I can only hope and pray that all of them make their full recovery. An attack on the workers of the Donetsk Filtration station is nothing less than an attack on 300000 civilians. On Wednesday this week the Donetsk Filtration Station was closed and sealed, and its operation ceased.”, said Alexander Hug. “Cutting off from water is an act against the civilian population on both sides of the contact line, he added. U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker had also commented on the attack upon the personnel of Donetsk Water Filtration Plant by Russian-led forces, saying that targeting civilians was unacceptable.

3.The WasteInForum 2018 in Kyiv

The WasteInForum 2018 kicked off in Kyiv on Monday. The event is organized by the Global Waste Innovations Forum, an  initiative aimed to  to increase effectiveness of the waste management system in Ukraine and to decrease negative impact of waste on the environment. Over the past two decades, waste problem has proven to be one of the critical challenges in Ukraine, the country with over 38000 waste polygons and only one waste-to-energy plant. According to the Ministry of Regional Development, about 11 mln tons of domestic waste were created in Ukraine in 2017, 95% of them are dumped at landfill sites covering 9,000 ha. Only 3% of waste is recycled and composted. 2% of all the populated localities segregate waste. So the Forum focuses on the Waste Management industry highlighting its development opportunities, raising awareness of Ukrainian citizens of efficient and environmentally friendly practices of waste management and making social pressure to promote reforms in the field of waste management. The Forum  features four panels focusing on Waste Innovations; Landfills and Environment; Waste Logistics and Processing; and Waste as a Resource.

As we have reported earlier since January 1, 2018, the landfilling of non-recycled domestic waste has been banned in Ukraine, as a new law on Waste management came into force. In addition, Ukrainians should now sort the garbage, separating large-scale, construction and hazardous household waste and collect it separately.

It is vital for Ukraine to change the strategy of waste managementm believes MP Aliona Babak. “We should learn from the European experience, for more than 20 years European countries have been using the strategy of extended producer responsibility to motivate people to sort waste. The strategy makes the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal, obliging producers to internalise waste management costs in their product prices and ensuring the safe handling of their products. If the producer pays for the entire cycle of products, the consumer will pay only for his own unsorted waste that cannot be recycled.” - said  MP Aliona Babak.

According to the report “Ukraine’s transition to renewable energy by 2050”, this country has all the capabilities to cover 91 percent of its own energy needs with the green energy by 2050. If Ukraine encourages the transition to renewable energy, its share may reach 40 percent by 2035 already. The transition is expected to happen first of all due to the wind, solar and biomass energy. The share of the wind power stations in the overall structure of energy production may reach up to 45 percent, solar power stations – up to 36 percent, while biomass and waste may reach up to 73 percent in the overall structure of thermal power production.

4.A Ukrainian high school leaver has developed a technology to produce paper from fallen leaves

Valentyn Frechka, a high school leaver from the Transcarpathian village of Sokyrnytsia, has won the first prizes at two international school Olympiads – in Tunisia and Kenya – with his practicable invention: he developed an innovative technology for manufacturing paper from fallen leaves. Valentyn says the idea dawned on him while he was preparing for one of the competitions where contestants had to present an innovative research.

Together with his curator he gathered fallen leaves of birch, willow, oak, a nd hornbeam. Then the leaves underwent certain chemical processes and obtained pulp, from which they made sheets of paper. The Olympiad juries in Tunisia and Kenya were so impressed that Valentyn’s first prize was unquestionable. In an interview with Radio Ukraine he said: “I travel to different countries presenting my technology for manufacturing paper from fallen leaves. The main goal of this project is to improve paper production. Besides, fallen leaves can be used as a raw material and is a huge resource potential.” His research manager Vladyslav Mirutenko, an authoritative biologist, believes that the innovation is very promising since fallen leaves are an inexhaustible and renewable resource. “There will be no need to cut trees to make paper. Here we use the material that man hasn’t used for this purpose before. Of course, this raw material comes in smaller amounts than timber, but it can be a perfect alternative to timber for small-scale manufacture of paper,” said Vladyslav Mirutenko. According to him, in the near time Valentyn is going to present his innovation at an international school Olympiad in Serbia, and in June he is going to the United States where he stands fair chances to receive a scholarship.

5.Photos from Chornobyl exclusion zone exhibited by the French Spring festival

An exhibition by French photojournalist Guillaume Herbaut has opened up on Tuesday at Taras Shevchenko National Museum in Kyiv. Being one of the five exhibitions programmed within the French Spring festival, it’s dedicated to the Chornobyl exclusion zone and thus titled: The Zone, presenting images from 2009 to 2011. In an interview with Ukrainian Radio, press attache at the French Instutute of Ukraine Viktoria Tomenchuk, commented: “Guillaume began travelling in the Chornobyl zone in 2001. He said the zone attracted him and subsequently it had changed his mode of work and the photographer himself. In this collection, his trips from 2009 to 2011 are documented. It features numerous fascinating works, where one can observe abandoned villages and towns, namely Polisske or Rossokha. There are also photos of a cemetary with military equipment contaminated by radiation. Each photograph has a small story behind, including stories of people, who had stayed there or those who’d come back.”

Herbaut was “shocked by the disaster” of 1986 in Chornobyl: he was 15 years old back then. Since he first came to Ukraine to visit the exclusion zone in 2001, his trips had become regular. The city of Poliske, for instance, was evacuated with its 20,000 citizens 10 years after the nuclear catastrophe. Today, around 10 people still live there, and one of its last residents is pictured in a photo by Guillaume. “I like, and I hate Chornobyl at the same time. It is at the same time a place of pollution; of death, but also of freedom,” he said in an interview.

While staying in the role of a photojournalist, Guillaume Herbaut also tries to “push the boundaries” of the reportage genre, according to him, introducing an individual artistic approach in his photographs. In his work he addressed painful historical events, from Auschwitz and Nagasaki to Chornobyl, as well as the present-day reality of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, working in the Donbas region and stressing the importance of reminding about a war in the European continent that is ongoing.

The exhibition is open till the 6th of May in the framework of The French Spring festival that had kicked off in Ukraine in late March presenting numerous artistic events in 7 big cities all over Ukraine.