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Russian Media: Ukrainian Intelligence Services Planned To Kidnap Putin In Minsk.  Russian expert reveals plans of taking Ukraine.  Berlin police arrested 'wrong suspect'.  One more Russian diplomat gunned down.  54 died in Russia after drinking bath product, emergency state announced.  Murder of Russian ambassador to Turkey. New VIDEO.  Shooting outside US Embassy in Ankara: American diplomatic missions in Turkey closed for time being.

Kyiv, Ukraine
1c / 34f HI | RealFeel® -2c / 29f
Precipitation 60%
Cloudy this morning, then intervals of clouds and sunshine this afternoon
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Russian cyberattack might cause week-end blackout in Kyiv

The December 18 blackout in Kyiv might have been caused by cyberattack

The northern districts of right-bank part of Kyiv and some of its outskirts could be left without electricity because of Russian cyberattacks against Ukrainian wires overnight into December 18, the 'Ukrenergo' agency interim head Vsevolod Kovalchuk wrote on his Facebook page.

The blackout was caused by dysfunction of the Nothern sub-station, according to the official's report........
Moscow police free Radio Liberty journalist, provide no explanation

Ivan Voronin, a journalist of the Russian language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who was detained by Moscow police amid a rally on Tuesday, December 20, together with seven more people, including a French national, has been released, according to his colleague from Radio Liberty Alina Shvydko.

"According to the journalist [Voronin], he spent about 15 minutes at the police station. They only checked his documents, but did not explain why he had been detained," Shvydko tweeted.

"It was an attempt to stop the planned rally, it was blatantly unlawful," she quoted Voronin's comment on his detention in Moscow........

U.S. Adds More Russians To Sanctions List, Including 'Putin's Chef'

The United States has levied new sanctions against more Russians for Moscow's actions in Ukraine, hitting well-connected insiders, including the man known as Russian President Vladimir Putin's chef.

The updated list, announced on December 20 by the Treasury Department, includes seven Russians and more than three dozen companies in Russia and Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The names added to the Specially Designated Nationals List include Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg businessman whose company has provided catering to the Kremlin.

"These targeted sanctions aim to maintain pressure on Russia by sustaining the costs of its occupation of Crimea and disrupting the activities of those who support the violence and instability in Ukraine,” John Smith, acting director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.

The announcement triggered an angry response from Moscow, where Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the fresh sanctions a "hostile move" and warned that Russia would retaliate.

"We will be expanding our lists, we will see how we can respond asymmetrically," the state-run TASS news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.

Prigozhin has been dubbed "Putin’s chef" thanks to major state catering contracts his firms have secured with the Kremlin and elsewhere.

He has also been linked to a notorious "troll factory" that paid Russians to post anonymous comments to news sites, social media networks, and blogs in an effort to bolster Kremlin policies.

The Treasury announcement said Prigozhin had provided financial, material and technological support for senior Russian defense officials, and has had extensive business with the Defense Ministry. That includes a company linked to him that has a contract to build a military base near the Russian border with Ukraine, the department said.

“Russia has been building additional military bases near the Ukrainian border and has used these bases as staging points for deploying soldiers into Ukraine,” the announcement said.

News reports have also linked Prigozhin’s employees to a shadowy private military contractor called ChVK Vagner.

Mercenary groups like Vagner and other private contractors are believed to have played an increasingly important role in Russian foreign policy in recent years, particularly in Ukraine and Syria.............

Access complete text of the editorial: In English
Escalating conflict near Mariupol, Putin tests Ukraine’s readiness for political settlement
The flare-up of fighting near Svitlodar, Mariupol zone, was not only a reconnaissance in force but also a test of Ukraine’s readiness for the political settlement of the conflict, military programs director at the Razumkov think tank Mykola Sunhurovsky writes in his blog at Dec. 20.

 “Such flare-ups happened before and will happen again. Their purpose is to fuel tensions, destabilize Ukraine, stage a reconnaissance in force, put Ukraine troops in disarray. 

By effectively coping with the attack, the Ukrainian army has convincingly demonstrated its ability to repulse massive enemy attacks.

The frequency of the flare-ups in fighting coincides with the arrival in Donbas of Russia’s ‘humanitarian’ convoys.

Putin is trying to bring chaos to the Minsk negotiating process by insisting on separate discussion and changing the priority of the implementation of the agreement’s various aspects,” the expert writes.

As reported earlier, on Dec. 18 a major enemy attack was lauinched near Svotlodar, Mariupol zone, with the rebels resorting to large-caliber artillery, tank and mortar shelling.

According to Ukraine intelligence, the enemy lost 25 killed and 30 wounded. Ukraine army lost 5 killed and 6 wounded, the army says.
Tymoshenko calls to prosecute PM and lawmakers who supported controversial amendments to budget code

Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Hroisman and MPs, who voted for the bill No. 5131 "On Amendments to the Budget Code of Ukraine (in terms of improvement of budget formulation and execution), must be brought to criminal responsibility.

As reported by correspondent for Censor.NET, this was said by Batkivshchyna parliamentary faction leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

According to Tymoshenko, the bill deprives the villages that failed to join larger territorial units of income tax revenues., In Ukrainian / на українській мові
Ukraine appealed to the UN because of sexual violence in the occupied territories of the Russian Federation

Ukrainian delegation urged UN Member States to extend the appropriate credentials to the problems of sexual violence in temporary okupovstupyv Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kyslytsia in open debate in the Security Council by Russia DATA territories.
A statement vyschodo trafficking in armed conflict, reports "Ukrinform".

"I would like to appeal once again to voice the Ukrainian side to include in the scope of the relevant UN mandates the problem of sexual violence in the temporarily occupied territories of the Russian Federation Ukrainian", - said the representative Kyslytsia.

He said that cases of sexual violence in the occupied territories must fix because there is "no Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and it is impossible to collect evidence base." , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
The EU will provide Ukraine visa-free travel in a few weeks - Juncker

Ukraine fulfilled all the conditions that were placed before it for visa liberalization

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker assured that the EU will give the citizens of Ukraine visa-free travel for several weeks.

He wrote the article Standing by Ukraine for the magazine Baltic Rim Economies.

" I think that Ukrainian citizens will be free from the obligation to obtain a visa in a few weeks " - said Juncker.

According to him, after a long assessment the Commission came to the conclusion that Ukraine fulfilled all the conditions that were placed before it for visa liberalization. , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
US expanded sanctions anti-Russian aggression by Russia against Ukraine

In the expanded sanctions list included seven individuals and a number of companies

US expanded sanctions against Russia in connection with the aggression of Russia against Ukraine. This is stated in the statement of the US Treasury.

In the expanded sanctions list included seven individuals: President of the National Media Group Kirill Kovalchuk, members of the Board of Directors of Joint Stock Bank "Russia" Dmitry Lebedev, Mikhail Klishina Dmitry Mansurov, Michael Dedov, Chairman Oleg Minaev Sobinbank and businessman Eugene Prigogine.

Also under sanctions hit a number of companies, including "Stroyproekt", "Crimean ports", "Crimean Railway" LLC "RosHimTreyd", "Transpetrochart."

In addition, the list of sanctions for the first time added ships - oil tankers "Marshal Zhukov" and "Stalingrad".

The assets of individuals and organizations caught in the blacklist will be frozen in the United States, US residents are prohibited to have a relationship with them.

Recall that in September 2016 published a list of sanctions and US Department of Commerce. He hit 81 in 86 company names, and the 11 companies mentioned in the document the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Finance pointed out previously. Among the newcomers were "Angstrom M", "Angstrom", "Angstrom-T", "Foreign economic association Radioeksport" Perm research and production equipment producing company, "Micron", JSC NPF "Mikran" SPC "Pomegranate", "Technopol". , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
on Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:44 amAdmin
Gazprom may lose its biggest asset in Turkey

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom may lose its biggest asset in Turkey, according to the Russian media outlet Kommersant, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Shares of Russian company and Gazprombank in Akfel Holding, the largest private importer of Russian gas to Turkey, were de facto nationalized on suspicion of having links with the organization of Fethullah Gulen. According to the newspaper, it became known in early December that the Turkish authorities had taken control and changed Akfel Holding Board of Directors, but then the status of the Russian investments had been unclear. Now, according to newspaper sources close to the shareholders of Akfel, the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund of Turkey (TMSF) informally told them that it "acts as a shareholder."

The largest bodies of Akfel Holding are Akfel Gas (contract with Gazprom for 2.25 billion cubic meters of gas per year), Avrasia (0,5 billion) and Enerco (2,5 billion). Akfel and Gazprombank are the owners of 60% of shares in the last two companies. Other 40% in Enerco belong to Austrian OMV. The group of Gazprom has also a minority stake in Akfel Holding. Besides, Gazprom has an option to buy 50% in Akfel Gas, but the deal, which began in 2014, is not closed due to lack of approval by the Turkish regulator, the newspaper said..............
Russian Media: Ukrainian Intelligence Services Planned To Kidnap Putin In Minsk

According to Russian propagandists, Putin was to be kidnapped in 45 minutes and transported to Hague in a cage.

Ukrainian intelligence services planned to kidnap Vladimir Putin during his visit to the Negotiations of the Normandy four in Minsk on February 11-12, 2015.

The former head of the Main Investigation Department of Security Service of Ukraine Gen. Vasily Vovk has allegedly said this in his interview with the TV channel TSN. However, there's no such information on the TV channel's website. The Russian newspaper Express-Gazeta informs about this scandalous statement.

According to Vovk, as Express-Gazeta cites him, intelligence officers and participants of military operations in the ATO zone took part in the operation.

"We had an airplane waiting with its motor running. We were ready to seize Putin in 45 minutes and transport him in a cage either to Kiev or directly to the Hague," – Gen.Vovk allegedly said.
Russia asks Ukraine to sell 12 Zenith booster rockets

Russia has officially requested Ukraine to sell several Zenith booster rockets. Without them Moscow won’t be able to cope with its contract with Angola to launch a telecommunications satellite Angosat – 1, reports Dec. 20.

The Russians had bought one Zenith before the war in Donbas broke out in 2014 but its shelf life has expired. As a result, it cannot be launched without Ukrainian engineers. 

Earlier, Russian space agency decided to do without Zeniths, replacing them with Russian-made Proton-M boosters. However, it turned out to be a bad idea as Protons tended to break down too often. Only recently the Russian booster with Progress spaceship crashed in Russia.

The Russians plan to use Zeniths to put satellites into orbit within the Sea Start program.

Given the on-going war with Moscow, we will see how Kyiv will react to the Russian request. Will Kyiv chose cash or principles?
on Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:14 amAdmin
One more Russian diplomat gunned down

Russian media reported the death of one more diplomat, RFE/RL reports. According to the statement, former high ranking Russian diplomat was found shot dead in his apartment in Moscow. Police reported on Dec. 20 that the body of a man with traces of the use of firearms found in the apartment at Balaklava Avenue on Monday night.

Details of what happened not clear at the moment. Police sources in Moscow say that the investigation examines the version of murder and suicide................
54 died in Russia after drinking bath product, emergency state announced

At least 54 people died from alcohol poisoning after drinking a bath product containing alcohol, a product called 'Boyaryshnik' in the Russian city of Irkutsk, according to the latest reports from Russian media.

Also, at least 78 persons have been reported hospitalised after drinking 'Boyaryshnik' as a cheap alcoholic drink. A state of emergency has been announced in the whole Irkutsk region with a population of about 2.5 million.

December 20 is an official day of mourning in the Russia's region in the Far East................

Murder of Russian ambassador to Turkey. New VIDEO

A new video of the murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was posted online. The ambassador was assassinated during opening ceremony of an art exhibition "Russia through Turks' eyes."

As reported by Censor.NET, the footage shows the murderer as he stands behind the ambassador's back for a long time. The man was allegedly searching for a better firing position. His activities were not deemed suspicious by those present at the ceremony until the man started firing. , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
on Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:09 amAdmin
The German police officers have arrested the wrong person under suspicion of committing the mass murder at a Berlin CVhristmas market on Monday evening, the Die Welt newspaper reports, referring to its police source.

"We have the wrong man. And thus we have a new situation, as the real attacker is still heavily armed and can cause more damage," the German outlet quotes its police source as saying.........
U.S. suspends diplomatic mission to Turkey in wake of Russian envoy murder

The United States' diplomatic mission in Turkey has halted normal operations on Tuesday following a deadly attack on the Russian ambassador.

"US Embassy in Ankara and Consulates Istanbul and Adana closed for normal operations today. Visa appointments will be rescheduled," the Embassy tweeted Tuesday. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot in an attack at an art gallery in the Turkish capital on Monday and the Russian RIA news agency said he had died of wounds sustained...........
UN General Assembly Approves Resolution On Russian Abuses In Crimea

The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution that recognizes Crimea as "temporarily occupied" by Russia and condemns the "abuses" and "discrimination" against Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and other groups on the peninsula.

The General Assembly vote on December 19 was 70 in favor and 26 against the resolution, with 77 countries abstaining.

The resolution also calls on Russia, as an "occupying power," to end all abuses against people living in Crimea, including arbitrary detentions, torture, and other "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment."

Serhiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine's deputy foreign minister, said in a statement after the General Assembly's vote that the human rights situation on Crimea had "deteriorated sharply" since Russian forces took control of the Ukrainian territory in February 2014 and illegally annexed it.................
Conquer and steal: Russian expert reveals plans of taking Ukraine

How to win the war and what they want to steal first – UT translates the speech of Mikhail Aleksandrov, the leading expert of Center for military and political studies affiliated with Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs

We need to use the moment when the cease-fire will be violated by Ukrainian side on a massive scale. As soon as it happens, a large-scale offensive of Donbas forces must start, supported by our aviation and long-range systems – I mean, rocket systems, cruise missiles, Iskander missiles. In fact, it is a variant of the Syria, you know. The Syrian variant, when the main Ukrainian infrastructure will be destroyed, communications center, command center, air defense systems, heavy weaponry. And on the destroyed positions, where mostly the infantry is left with light weapons, the Donbas forces will advance. They basically will clean the territory from the remnants of the Ukrainian army..................

Access complete text of the editorial: In English
Privatbank partially freezes corporate accounts as interim measure

Privatbank corporate payments suspended on Dec. 19 for one day will be possible with certain restrictions from Dec. 20.

Privat24 for business online system has notified that on Dec. 20, debit transactions are possible within the amount not exceeding the balance as of Dec. 19. All credit limits, overdrafts, limits on guaranteed payments and business installment are zeroed or reduced to the level of debt, Censor.NET reports citing UNIAN.

All receipt transactions are processed without restrictions.

"For example, an account balance as of the morning Dec. 19, 2016 was 100,000 hryvnia. This amount becomes the 'minimum balance.' From that moment, the account received incoming payments (from counterparties, compensation for acquiring, revenue, etc.) totaling 50,000 hryvnia, and the account balance is now 150,000 hryvnia. Accordingly, only this 50,000 hryvnia can be used for transactions, including those with the card," the bank explains.

"Such corporate customer service mode is temporary. All decisions as to its future alteration will be made by Mr. Shlapak as soon as he assumes his duties as the board chair," the report notes.

On Dec. 18, the Cabinet of Ministers announced its decision to nationalize Privatbank, the largest privately-held bank of Ukraine. The government intends to issue 30-year domestic government loan notes worth 150 billion hryvnia ($5.54 billion) and become a 100-percent owner of the bank. The bank's first deputy CEO announced the decision was made after an unprecedented information attack on the bank and a threat it posed to its clients. The bank's leadership assured the clients their savings will be safe, naming it the key condition in the talks. In his turn, Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danyliuk confirmed the clients' money will be safe and protected by the state. Due to the nationalization procedure, Privatbank halted corporate transactions for one day, till 9 a.m. Dec. 20.

According to the National Bank of Ukraine, Privatbank needs 148 billion hryvnia in additional capitalization. The finance minister said that after Privatbank is stabilized, the state plans to sell it. In turn, President Poroshenko said the state guarantees safety and integrity of the client's funds.

On Dec. 19, the National Bank of Ukraine allocated 15 billion hryvnia to maintain the liquidity of Privatbank.

The decision on the Privatbank nationalization has been supported by IMF, EBRD, the G7 countries, the EU and the U.S.

Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danyliuk claims the bank was made insolvent and those guilty should be held accountable. , In Ukrainian / на українській мові
Shooting outside US Embassy in Ankara: American diplomatic missions in Turkey closed for time being

The United States diplomatic missions in Turkey - the embassy in Ankara and consulates in Istanbul and Adana - will be closed on Tuesday for security reasons after a shooting incident at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

Censor.NET reports citing BBC.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara urges American citizens in Turkey to be vigilant, stay in touch, follow the news and possibly revise plans to ensure their personal safety.

"U.S Embassy in Ankara: Missions will be closed in Ankara, Istanbul, Adana after firearm discharged in front of Embassy overnight," CNN Turk wrote on Twitter.

According to Independent, an individual opened fire past night in the embassy's vicinity. No one was harmed.

The man took out a pump action shotgun he hid in his coat and fired around eight shots in the air before the embassy's security guards intervened and apparently overpowered him.

On Monday night, Dec. 19, a man fired a gun at Russia's Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov at the opening of exhibition called "Russia through Turks' eyes" in Ankara. The diplomat was fatally wounded., In Ukrainian / на українській мові
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