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Scoop of the weekend: regional appointments, US arms, oil

Scoop of the weekend: regional appointments, US arms, oil

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Donald Tusk visited Stanytsya Luhanska in Luhansk Region where the disengagement of forces recently took place. Zelenskyy said that the government planned to restore the bridge between the government-controlled area and the occupied part of Donbas soon.

Appointments

Zelenskyy appointed Vitaliy Komarnytskyy head of the Luhansk regional state administration. He is tasked with finding opportunities for regional development. Komarnytskyy is the dean of the Luhansk University of Internal Affairs moved to the government-controlled territory, a former regional councilor representing Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

Zelenskyy appointed Markiyan Malskyy head of the Lviv regional state administration and Ihor Bondarenko head of the Transcarpathian regional state administration.

During a visit to Uzhhorod, Zelenskyy asked the heads of the Transcarpathian, Volyn, Lviv and Chernivtsi regional customs offices to step down within two days because "they could not stop smuggling".

The acting chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ivan Bakanov, has appointed Oleksandr Bondaruk as head of the SBU regional office in Lviv Region and Ivan Rudnytskyy in Transcarpathian Region. They are tasked with cracking down on smuggling and systemic corruption.

Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak has appointed Maj-Gen Ihor Palahnyuk commander of the South Operative Command.

Ukraine has for the first time ever requested to purchase military equipment through the US Department of Defence Foreign Military Sales programme, according to the US embassy in Ukraine. "We are beginning the review process for that request. The United States stands firmly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and defense sector reforms," charge d'affaires William Taylor tweeted.

Russia

The Ukrainian news channel NewsOne, which is associated with Vladimir Putin's close friend Viktor Medvedchuk, is planning to hold a two-hour-long TV link with the Russian progovernment channel Rossiya 1 on 12 July. According to Russian propagandist Dmitriy Kiselev, the link entitled "We need to talk" is designed to mimic the one the USSR and the USA had in 1985.

The project has caused an outrage in Ukraine. In particular, ex-President Petro Poroshenko's European Solidarity party called it a serious threat to the country's information security.

Pro-Russian MP Mykhaylo Dobkin (Opposition Bloc) has said he was denied entry to Russia. In December 2018, he was included in the so-called Putin's List, a list of people close to the Kremlin to whom international sanctions should be applied, in the opinion of the Russian opposition. Dobkin played a role in Yanukovych's escape to Russia in 2014.

Filaret, the rebellious leader of the now disbanded Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, has criticized the essence of the tomos, the document granting independence to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as well as the name of the newly formed church. He also said that had been "tricked by both the president and Metropolitan Epifaniy".

The Novoye Vremya website has uncovered a video dating back to 2015 which shows a separatist air defence commander possibly admitting in an interview to hiding a Buk missile system which may have been used to take down the Malaysia Airlines MH17 on 17 July 2014.

Crime

Police have released two women who had been held hostage for three hours in a bank in Odesa. The man who took them hostage was demanding 1m dollars and a helicopter. He was detained.

US oil

The first batch of 75,000 tonnes of oil from the USA has arrived at the Odesa port. According to Business Information Network, the oil was bought by Ukrtatnafta to be processed at the Kremenchuk oil refinery.

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