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"What do you want? Morons," - Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks to journalists.  Paul Manafort: Ukraine gov't said Party of Regions' "black accounts" was falsified document.  U.S., Canada, EU hail Ukraine's anti-corruption achievements.  Pro-Russia militants keep destroying Ukrainian townsl.  EIOC may consider suspension of Russia from 2018 Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang: U.S. Congress Passes Massive Defense Bill, Including Global Magnitsky Rights Measure.  More Than Two Dozen U.S. Senators Urge Trump To Stay Firm On Russia Sanctions.  Kerry Warns Against Rising 'Authoritarianism’ In OSCE Region.  "What do you want? Morons," - Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks to journalists.

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A hiatus or a halt to organised criminality in Zatoka, Ukraine?

Over the past 12 months, several times has the blog mentioned the organised criminality running amok in Zatoka, Odesa.

Everything from voter fraud on a large scale, to criminal land deals, conspiracy to murder, arson, grievous assaults, forgery, and protection rackets have managed to get a mention due to the complete absence of the rule of law.
As previously explained, that complete absence of the rule of law was due to the fact that all constituent parts of the rule of law were actively engaged in the organised criminality – “For those wishing to acquire occupation of much sought after beach-side territory and/or property at the expense of the longstanding legitimate leaseholders, the following outlines the bureaucratic illegalities/standard criminal schemes.

Those with nefarious intent with the assistance and collusion of the local prosecutors create concocted and imaginary events and incidents that in some way manage to breach a technicality in the lease. Those with nefarious intent can either do so directly with the local prosecutors, or by first approaching the Belgorod-Dneister court who then contact the local prosecutors with instructions to create and/or find a technicality that can eventually be ruled as being a breach of lease by the Belogorod-Dneister court.

The subsequent court ruling then allows the nefarious interests to bribe, coerce or act in cahoots with the Zatoka Village Council to cancel the existing lease and issue a new lease to the new and distinctly criminal tenants.
At some point a few years into the lease those then holding the lease will buy the territory and all properties thereon relatively cheaply from the local Village Council – even after accounting for the bribes necessarily involved.
Naturally there is no possible recourse for the legitimate tenants through the local prosecutors, local courts, or Village Council – all of whom are involved.”

All such information was hardly secret – at least it could be easily obtained for those that wanted to lift the stone and see what horrors lurked beneath. Such is the depth of organised criminality in Zatoka the last blog entry concluded – “If the regional rule of law institutions cannot (for whatever reason) implement the rule of law swiftly, why not bring in a team from another region – Lviv or Dnipro for example – that have no connection to Odessa to investigate? There is an audit/documented trail for this scheme to operate after all – and for each and every attempt.

Unless events in Zatoka are tackled immediately, robustly and vigorously then they are going to continue as was unfortunately predicted in the tweet above – and that will do little for public confidence with regard to the perceived sanctity of property rights under the current national leadership, let alone attempts at creating the perception of reformed governance and the institutions of State.”

It appears that the rule of law has finally arrived in what appears prima facie to be a robust and vigorous fashion.

On 10th December, 18 months after a persistent and barely hidden issue became an acute and blatant issue, Directorate K of the SBU, the PGO and National Police descended upon Zakota conducting searches and making numerous arrests.

Considering the outline of organised criminality above, a reader will not be surprised to learn that among the arrests were local government officials, prosecutors, police, SBU and judges with 50 crimes now under investigation ranging from voter fraud to conspiracy to murder (according to Interior Minister Facebook) – indeed all criminality described above that was guaranteed to be found once the political/institutional will to look under the Zatoka rock was found.

It remains to be seen what charges will be brought and against who.

Thereafter it remains to be seen how a justice system yet to see reform convincingly manifest will actually deliver justice for those in Zatoka that have suffered increasingly blatant organised criminality for years. They are long overdue both justice and restitution.

Just as importantly, it remains to be seen whether the rule of law will effectively fill the void created by its actions taken on 10th December – or whether organised criminality will once again fill the void it may have temporarily left if this proves to be nothing more than a hit and run by the institutions of the rule of law.

Minister Avakov would be well advised to remember that in any battle it is one thing to take the ground, but quite another to hold it.

Time will tell whether the Minister and his ministry have a plan to consolidate and defend any rule of law gain that will come as a result of their operational efforts in Zatoka of 10th December.

As of yet, the job is not even half done.

Good to see that ALL KINDS of criminals are facing the law. It's a much tougher job than is known, for those not knowing how things work in Ukraine. Glad to see that it's being confronted in all parts of Ukraine, as Belgorod-Dneister (Belgorod-Dnistrovsky) aha: Akkerman is my wife's home town. But the fight isn't over and won't be over for years to come. They need our support.
Countries outside OPEC agreed to cut oil production, - Bloomberg

Among these countries are also Russia

Countries outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC agreed to cut output by more than 600 thousand. Barrels per day. This is with reference to a delegate at the meeting reports Bloomberg .

Among these countries also includes Russia.

"Russia and other countries outside the OPEC pledged to limit oil production next year by more than 600 thousand. Barrels a day at a meeting in Vienna on Saturday, joining forces with OPEC to end global clipping "- said in a statement referring to the representative.

The agreement was the first such agreement between the two parties over the past 15 years and was achieved two weeks after OPEC agreed to cut domestic production by 1.2 million barrels a day, said the delegate.

It is noted that the talks in Vienna was attended by representatives of OPEC countries and countries outside the cartel.

"We managed to gather 25 countries that are as well as non-OPEC, with the idea to stabilize the oil market and protect fair price for our product" - leads the agency words Venezuelan Energy Minister Eulogia del Pino. , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
Vladimir Putin’s Economic Plan Spooks Russian Entrepreneurs

A young entrepreneur named Vladimir Khrykov listened attentively to every word President Vladimir Putin said last week in his address to Russia’s Federal Assembly. And the 30-year-old was hugely disappointed by what he heard.
For Khrykov, who runs a diaper company on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East, foreign investors are key to his business. And his clients are eager to know just one thing before they invest: Will Russia see more profits in the next few years? And so Khrykov tuned in to hear Putin’s economic plan, so he could divine the future for his firm.

“Putin has no strategy,” Khrykov told The Daily Beast on Wednesday, as he despaired over the contents of the president’s speech, which seemed fragmented at best. “It is impossible for us to convince our foreign investors to spend money on technologies here, as nobody can be sure that the population will be able to afford the product in the future.”

Recently, Khrykov’s Japanese partners asked him whether Russia’s economy would improve in the next 50 years. He didn’t know what to tell them.

Foreign investors are indeed suspicious about sinking money into the country without some firm guarantees. As one academic, Alexander Abramov of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, explained to The Daily Beast, “It looks suspicious to foreign investors, to see that up to $200 billion stays in Russian banks. They wonder why local investors do not invest in businesses here.............

Access complete text of the editorial: In English
Yanukovych's lawyer says when his client may return to Ukraine

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will return to Ukraine and will testify as soon as the danger to his life disappears, his lawyer Vitaliy Serdiuk said on 112 Ukraine TV channel.

"As soon as the danger to Viktor Yanukovych's life disappears, he will take part in all court hearings," Serdiuk said.

Later on the same day, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko read out official accusations of high treason that were brought against Yanukovych in Ukraine..........
WSJ: Exxon's Rex Tillerson is top candidate for secretary of state

Mr. Tillerson moved ahead of other candidates, including 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who have had multiple conversations with Mr. Trump about the job. Mr. Tillerson is viewed by some of Mr. Trump's advisers as a mold-breaking pick who would bring an executive's experience to the diplomatic role, said a person involved in the process, WSJ reported. An Exxon spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Trump hasn't made a final decision on whom he wants as his top diplomat.

Among those considered for the post, Mr. Tillerson has perhaps the closest ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Exxon's CEO, Mr. Tillerson has spoken against sanctions on Russia. This pre-existing relationship with Mr. Putin complements Mr. Trump's push to improve U.S.-Russia ties...................

U.S., Canada, EU hail Ukraine's anti-corruption achievements

The Embassy of the United States, the Embassy of Canada, and the EU Delegation to Ukraine have praised Ukraine for the important achievements it has made in the fight against corruption and encourage it to continue on the path of ambitious reforms.

"We applaud the impressive steps taken since the Revolution of Dignity, including the adoption of constitutional amendments on the judiciary and of anti-corruption legislation, the establishment of specialized anti-corruption bodies, and the successful launch of the electronic asset declaration system," they said in a joint statement on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9. "These measures can contribute to greater public trust in the work of state officials, and we commend Ukrainian authorities and civil society for their dedication and hard work that has m

According to the statement, these gains are still consolidating and require the continued, focused efforts of all Ukrainian stakeholders working together to sustain and build on this positive momentum into 2017, and beyond. "We strongly encourage the independent and credible verification of submitted e-declarations. We also look to Ukrainian authorities to ensure the independence and adequate resourcing of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor Office (SAPO), and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC)," the statement said.................
Pro-Russia militants keep destroying Ukrainian towns

The Russian-backed separatist forces attacked the positions of Ukrainian soldiers 31 times in the past 24 hours, Kyiv reported on December 10.

Using high-caliber artillery and assault weapons, the militants shelled numerous areas both in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

They continued their attacks on the government-controlled Avdiivka, neighboring Donetsk, firing with grenade launchers and machine guns.

The Mariupol sector, which has been an area of fiery clashes for months, saw its share of violence again, as the surrounding towns and villages were pounded by the combatants................
IOC may consider suspension of Russia from 2018 Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang

International Olympic Committee (IOC) may consider the suspension of Russian athletes from participating in 2018 Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang (South Korea).

This was announced by member of the (IOC) Gerhard Heiberg, Censor.NET reports Segodnia.

The reason for this was the information presented in the second part of the report of the independent Commission of the world anti-doping Agency (WADA) headed by Richard McLaren.

"I'm terrified. I knew I shouldn't expect anything good, but it's worse than anyone could imagine. International sport hasn't witness such a scandal. We waited for the second part of the McLaren's report and will start the discussion. If the facts are true, the violators will lose their medals. I leave open the possibility that we will be forced to suspend Russian athletes from participating in 2018 Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang (South Korea). , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
‘DPR’ militias threatened OSCE SMM, demanding food - Lysenko

Ukrainian intelligence reports that militants have serious problems with the supply of food, water and firewood.

This was announced by Defense Ministry spokesperson on ATO matters Andrii Lysenko, Censor.NET reports citing 112 TV Channel.

One 'DPR' militant of the so-called "9th Regiment" was injured in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area over the past 24 hours. The 'regiment' suffers serious problems with the supply of food, water and firewood.

"The militants gave serious problems with food, water and firewood supply. That's why the 'regiment' threatened OSCE SMM, demanding food," Lysenko said. , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
"What do you want? Morons," - Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov speaks to journalists

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has insulted journalists by calling them "debily" - an offensive Russian word for imbecile persons. , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
Kerry Warns Against Rising 'Authoritarianism’ In OSCE Region

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned of the "danger of authoritarian populism" and the risk of a retreat on the protection of basic human rights in a region stretching from the ex-Soviet Union across Europe to the United States.

Kerry spoke on the first day of a December 8-9 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States, EU states, and former Soviet republics such as Russia, among others.

In "too many the OSCE region" there has been "a rise of authoritarian thinking, accompanied by backsliding on human rights, restrictions on independent media, a spike in acts of intolerance, and hate crimes," he said.

The secretary of state went on, citing "growing corruption in too many countries" and "moves by certain leaders to change constitutions in an effort to consolidate power."

"We all see what's happening -- growing corruption in too many countries, the increase in authoritarianism, moves by certain leaders to change constitutions in an effort to consolidate power, false news being spread through new platforms of the media, torture being actually advocated in certain quarters," Kerry said.

He also called for efforts to put an end to the "suffering and the stalemate" in the portion of eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas, where fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 9,700 people since it erupted in April 2014 following Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

"The conflict in the Donbas and the occupation of Crimea have gone on for too long and at a tremendous human cost on both sides of the line of contact," Kerry said.

He said the United States was renewing its call for full implementation of the Minsk accords -- a February 2015 agreement aimed at ending the conflict. Fighting continues despite the deal and there has been little progress toward implementation of its political aspects................

Access complete text of the editorial: In English
More Than Two Dozen U.S. Senators Urge Trump To Stay Firm On Russia Sanctions

In a December 8 letter signed by 27 Democrats and Republicans, the senators also called on Trump to authorize the supply of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, something that outgoing President Barack Obama's administration has refused to do.

"In light of Russia's continued aggression and repeated refusal to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereign right to choose its own destiny, we also renew our call for the United States to increase political, economic, and military support for Ukraine," they wrote.

The letter was issued hours after Congress finalized a massive defense bill that includes millions of dollars in military assistance and support for Ukraine.

Trump, who takes office on January 20, has signaled he wants a more conciliatory approach toward Russia and cast doubt on the necessity of NATO..................
U.S. Congress Passes Massive Defense Bill, Including Global Magnitsky Rights Measure

The U.S. Congress has backed legislation giving the president new, broader authority to impose sanctions on human rights abusers worldwide, building on an earlier law that has infuriated the Kremlin.

The measure, formally known as the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, passed the Senate in a 92-7 vote on December 8 as part of a larger bill that sets guidance for U.S. defense priorities for the coming year.

The new measure is modeled after the Magnitsky Act, a law passed in 2012 that punishes Russians deemed by Washington to be rights violators by barring them from the United States and freezing any assets they hold there.

That law is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blowing Russian lawyer who helped uncover evidence of a massive tax fraud. He was jailed and later died in a notorious Moscow jail. His supporters, Western governments, and international rights groups say he was tortured and denied medical treatment.

Most of the 39 Russians hit by the 2012 law were accused of being connected either to Magnitsky's death in 2009, or the $230 million tax scam that he identified while working with the investment firm Hermitage Capital Management.

Incensed by the U.S. law, the Kremlin retaliated in 2012 by banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and barring some Americans from entering Russia.

'Gross Rights Violators'..............

Access complete text of the editorial: In English
Paul Manafort: Ukraine gov't said Party of Regions' "black accounts" was falsified document

The government of Ukraine said "black accounts" of the Party of Regions was a falsified document, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, said during an interview with "CBS This Morning" Friday.

"The government of Ukraine said that the ledger was a falsified document," Manafort claimed, referencing a ledger examined by the New York Times that listed $12.7 million in payments from former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russian political party to Manafort between 2007 and 2012. "The bureau there that was dealing with corruption said they were never investigating me, and they never will, they said." When asked if he was currently under investigation by a federal agency, Manafort replied, "I'm not." He also asserted that the basis of a story that precipitated his departure from Mr. Trump's campaign was not valid.

Manafort also talked about why he resigned his post from the campaign and pushed back on allegations that he was under investigation for his ties to Ukrainian politics. "I became a block to his ability to communicate his message," Manafort said. "I didn't think it was fair, the allegations were not true, but the reality is I became a block, and my goal was to get Donald Trump elected."...........
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