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Scoop of the holiday weekend: Happy New Year!

Scoop of the holiday weekend: Happy New Year!

New Year greetings

In his New Year speech, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians: "We have no other alternative to being a super-Ukraine." In a video clip he is shown telling children about the country's achievements in 2020.

For the second year in a row, the news-based channels 5 Kanal and Pryamyy broadcast ex-President Petro Poroshenko's New Year address. Zelenskyy's address was played either before or after it.

Zelenskyy has also recorded individual New Year greetings to every region of Ukraine in a series of video clips posted on Facebook, trying to appeal to regional distinctive features.

Mykolayiv city councilor Maksym Nevinchannyy used a screenshot of Russian President Vladimir Putin's New Year address to wish his Facebook followers a happy New Year on 31 December.

Coronavirus

The current occupancy rate in Ukraine's Covid-19 hospitals is 33.3%, the Health Ministry has said. The busiest hospitals (49%) are in Mykolayiv Region, the least occupied ones are in Ternopil Region (22.1%). The figure for Kyiv is 39%.

On the morning of 3 January, Ukraine reported 4,576 new Covid-19 cases, 6,250 recoveries and 123 fatalities. The case total since the start of the pandemic has reached 1,074,093.

The director of the state-owned medicine procurement enterprise Medychni Zakupivli, Arsen Zhumadilov, has said on Facebook that Health Minister Maksym Stepanov made an arbitrary decision when he chose the supplier of a coronavirus vaccine, having abused his office.

Ukraine will only buy Covid-19 vaccines which had gone through phase 3 of clinical trials, therefore any rumours or political allegations about the state registration of a Russian candidate vaccine are wrong since Sputnik-V is not expected to pass this phase until December 2021, Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko has said.

Donbas

Russia-backed militants violated the ceasefire in Donbas seven times on 3 January, the Joint Forces Operation HQ has said on Facebook. They used anti-tank grenade launchers near Lebedynske, Krasnohorivka and Maryinka, heavy machine guns near Lebedynske, Pisky and Maryinka, handheld anti-tank grenade launcher and small arms near Vodyane. They also fired with automatic mounted grenade launchers and heavy machine guns near Svitlodarsk.

Economy

In 2020, gas transit to Europe via the Ukrainian gas transport system reached 55.8bn cu.m., which is 38% lower than in 2019, according to the Ukrainian Gas Transport System Operator. This happened due to the launch of new gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine, lower demand for gas in the EU and a significant volume of gas stocked up in European underground storage facilities.

Minimum wage in Ukraine has increased by 1,000 hryvnyas to 6,000 hryvnyas (210 dollars) as of 1 January.

Foreign visits

The presidential office expects French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to visit Ukraine in 2021, its deputy head and Zelenskyy's diplomatic adviser Ihor Zhovkva has said in an article for the Dzerkalo Tyzhnya analytical website. He added that Ukraine hopes that the next summit of the Normandy Four leaders (France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine) will take place in 2021.

New OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde will pay her first foreign visit to Ukraine in January, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova.

Military

Border units in Zhytomyr and Lutsk regions have received engineering equipment from Excelor Holding Group LLC (Bulgaria) - a Landini 5-120 tractor and a Rinieri TRK 200 branch shredder worth over 50,000 euros – to be used during the delineation and equipment of the border with Belarus.

Tribute to Bandera

Around 2,000 people took part in a traditional torchlight procession in central Kyiv on 1 January to mark the birthday of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959), a Ukrainian politician and theorist of the militant wing of the far-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Participants included representatives of the National Corps, Freedom, the Right Sector and the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists.

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