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Scoop of the weekend: YES Annual Meeting, local elections

Scoop of the weekend: YES Annual Meeting, local elections

Yalta European Strategy

Kyiv hosted the 2019 Yalta European Strategy (YES) "Happiness Now. New Approaches for a World in Crisis" organised by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation on 12-14 September.

Russia does not demonstrate any political will to put an end to the conflict in Donbas, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said. “The problem is that Russia does not recognise its responsibility in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. It undertook some obligations, and does not want to fulfill them. Russia pretends it is not there (in East Ukraine) at all and bears no responsibility," he said. 

Zelenskyy met the special guests of the forum, actresses Robin Wright, Mila Kunis, actor and producer Ashton Kutcher to discuss investments in Ukrainian filmmaking. "We have everything to make quality films – excellent locations, 'advanced' experts and proper infrastructure. Let's do masterpieces together," he said.

Elections in Donbas 

President Zelenskyy has vetoed the new Election Code.

Vadym Halaychuk or Alina Zahoruyko, MPs of the Servant of the People party, may head the Central Electoral Commission, a source in the party has told LB.ua.

Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko told LB.ua that elections in the occupied part of Donbas would only be held after foreign troops are withdrawn and security conditions are put in place. Earlier, he said that Ukraine wants to hold the next local elections both in the government-controlled territory and in occupied Donbas.

Speaker Dmytro Razumkov has denied a connection between the dissolution of the Central Electoral Commission and the government's plans to hold local elections in the occupied part of Donbas. 

Former President Leonid Kuchma has told LB.ua that "it is impossible to hold elections there in the current situation because these would be someone else's elections, not ours". He added: "If they withdraw troops by April, if they remove hardware, if the Ukrainian authorities come there, then yes, elections [can be held]."

A bridge in Stanytsya Luhanska on the line of contact in Donbas is planned to be opened after repairs before 27 November 2019, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's press service has said. A temporary bypass will be organized by 11 October 2019.

Rights

Several thousand people accompanied by their pets took part in the all-Ukrainian March for Humane Animal Treatment in Kyiv. They waked towards parliament to draw attention to animal rights and protest against the misuse of animals in circuses and dolphinariums.

Kharkiv has hosted its first Equality March attended by around 2,000 people. A so-called March for Traditional Values, which was held in parallel, attracted around 500 people. Opponents of the Equality March tried to pelt its participants with eggs. Police opened two cases over a massive brawl involving far-right Freikorps radicals and a hooligan attack on a young man.

Economy

The Cabinet of Ministers sent the 2020 state budget draft to parliament. According to the Finance Ministry, the revenues are expected at 1,079.5bn hryvnyas, expenditures at 1,170bn hryvnyas. The national security and defence spending is planned at 245.8bn hryvnyas, which is 33.8bn hrynnyas more than in 2019.

Ukraine is set to agree on a new loan of about $5bn from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg has reported, quoting sources. The extended fund facility will replace a short-term programme that helped Kyiv "navigate a tricky year of presidential and parliamentary elections". It will probably run for three years, it added.

Miscellaneous

The Prosecutor-General's Office has closed the July 2014 criminal proceedings against former Deputy Prosecutor-General Renat Kuzmin after no evidence of his guilt has been found. Kuzmin was elected to parliament on the list of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life party.

Zelenskyy has appointed Oleksandr Bondarenko head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration. He is in trade IT consulting business. His wife Regina is a Russian national.

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