President goes to Oman
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken his family to Oman for Christmas. When the news transpired, his press service said that he was on a working visit to discuss trade. However, he allegedly took a regular flight and paid for the trip out of his pocket.
At a meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was interested in direct investments in energy, heavy industry, agriculture, IT, infrastructure, healthcare and tourism.
Russia's Gazprom has paid in full for the transit of gas across Ukraine despite the lower volumes being actually transported, the Ukrainian gas transport system operator has said.
A lorry GAZ-66 carrying Ukrainian servicemen hit a mine near Zolote-4 in Donbas on 5 January, according to the Joint Forces Operation HQ. One serviceman got killed and another wounded.
A scandal broke out after hip-hop singer Dr. Alban came to Ukraine to take part in a show produced by the president's comic company. He entered Ukraine despite the ban imposed on him for visiting Russia-annexed Crimea. In an Instagram post, he said that he managed to get in thanks to the "president's interference". He later edited the post to remove this phrase.
Russian politician and journalist Irina Khakamada was to speak at a business forum in Kyiv in late February but her visit got cancelled because of massive protests over her statements about the annexation of Crimea by Russia. In spring 2014, she praised Putin for "carrying out an operation in Crimea without a single shot" and said "these were not we who started the war".
Media freedom in Crimea
Nine Internet providers in Crimea have fully blocked 23 Ukrainian websites and two social networks in nine population centres, according to the Crimean Human Rights Group. Among the websites are LB.ua, Censor.net, 5 Kanal, Apostrof, Glavcom, Ukrayinska Pravda and others.
A shootout in Kakhovka, Kherson Region in which a 26-year-old man got killed has caused social unrest over concerns that police may be hiding one of their own who may have been involved in the incident.
Around 600 parishes have left the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to join the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) since its establishment, according to OCU leader Epifaniy.