Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ukraine creating naval base in Sea of Azov – Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has welcomed the passage of Ukrainian warships to the Sea of Azov, noting that the vessels will be part of a new naval base of the Ukrainian fleet in the area.

"Congratulations to [crews] of our warships – the search and rescue ship A500 Donbas and the seagoing tug A830 Korets – on entering the Sea of Azov," the head of state wrote on Facebook on Sunday, September 23. "These ships will be part of the newly created naval base of the Ukrainian fleet in the Sea of Azov," Poroshenko added.

Due diligence, information and disclosure in M&A transactions in Vietnam

What due diligence is necessary for buyers?
Legal and financial due diligence is required for acquisitions in Vietnam. Technical, commercial or environmental due diligence may also be required depending on the particulars of the target and its business.
What information is available to buyers?
Sellers or target companies are not required to disclose information to a buyer and the level of disclosure will depend on the agreement between the parties prior to the due diligence process. The buyer may obtain:
  • general registration information concerning the target from the national portal of enterprise registration information; and
  • information that must be made publicly available by a public target company.

Activist shot in Odessa and claims Odessa City Hall responsible – Tzar or Boyars?

No sooner had he done so, the following day Odessa activist and political agitator and public figure (People Power party) Oleg Mikhailik was shot the following day.
Despite being shot with military rather than traumatic ammunition, fortunately the bullet having past through his arm and entering his chest leaving his in a serious condition, it appears Mr Mikhailik is destined to survive (this time at least).
Those closest to Mr Mikhailik have been swift to point an accusing finger at Mayor Gennady Trukhanov – perhaps understandably, for Mayor Trukhanov’s criminal history is hardly one that is devoid of violence or a literal body count, and is a man often (rightly) targeted by Mr Mikhailik.
Perhaps a reasonable presumption to make – perhaps a leap a little too far without more substantial evidence of Mayor Trukhanov’s involvement.
So is the Tzar responsible?

EU membership is the prize meant to persuade Serbia and Kosovo to set aside resentments left by war. It’s finally possible.

Almost two decades after the last war ended in the western Balkans, there’s a chance that the word “balkanization” soon will no longer apply to the region. Finally, all the countries formed by the breakup of Yugoslavia stand a realistic chance of joining the European Union. But for them to unlock the opportunity and find lasting peace, a few festering conflicts need to be resolved, the one between Serbia and Kosovo the most intractable among them.

In August, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci appeared together at a news conference in Austria — something they’d never done before — to talk of a possible compromise between the former parent state and the breakaway region. This was a hopeful moment, but everyone invested in the Balkans, and that’s every major nation in Europe plus the U.S., China and the Middle Eastern petrostates, will need a lot more patience before the hope translates into tangible results.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

State Bureau of Investigations – A false start awaits

It has been quite some time since the truly glacial progression of the State Bureau of Investigation has earned a mention by the blog.
Its glacial formation is no surprise – for it is political expediency driving its delivery, hence the sporadic and ad hoc updates thus far.
Suffice to say, as long, long predicted, the anti-corruption court, Financial Investigations Department and State Bureau of Investigation will not be fully functioning entities prior to the presidential elections (as intended), nor will any judicial outcomes from their most (potentially) prominent cases be forthcoming prior to the Verkhovna Rada elections in October 2019 – parliamentary immunity must first be bestowed upon the next gaggle of parliamentarians to facilitate behind the curtain deals.

Andrea Camilleri

Andrea Calogero Camilleri,  born 6 September 1925) is an Italian writer.
Originally from Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Camilleri began studies at the Faculty of Literature in 1944, without concluding them, meanwhile publishing poems and short stories.
From 1948 to 1950 Camilleri studied stage and film direction at the Silvio D'Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts (Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica) and began to take on work as a director and screenwriter, directing especially plays by Pirandello and Beckett. His parents knew, and were, reportedly, "distant friends" of, Pirandello, as he tells in his essay on Pirandello Biography of the Changed Son. His most famous works, the Montalbano series, show many Pirandellian elements: for example, the wild olive tree that helps Montalbano think is on stage in his late work The Giants of the Mountain.
With RAI, Camilleri worked on several TV productions, such as Inspector Maigret with Gino Cervi. In 1977 he returned to the Academy of Dramatic Arts, holding the chair of Film Direction and occupying it for 20 years.

Ukrainian President: 10 million biometric passports are the answer to those who said that Ukrainians do not need the visa-free regime

President Petro Poroshenko handed over the ten-millionth biometric passport of a citizen of Ukraine for traveling abroad. Its owner is Polina Savina from Kyiv.
"Nearly two years ago, I had a great honor, I was the first citizen of Ukraine to get a biometric passport at number one. My wife received at number 100. And today, the 10-millionth Ukrainian citizen will get a passport," the Head of State said.
"What does this figure mean? ... 10 million means that those who said that Ukrainians do not need the visa-free regime, Ukrainians do not need biometric passports turned out to be wrong," Petro Poroshenko said and noted that 10 million means that every fourth Ukrainian has received a biometric passport.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The accommodation-renting website, Airbnb, has agreed to change its terms of service to clarify legal remedies consumers can bring against it, and will also list prices in a more transparent way, EU commissioner for justice Vera Jourova told journalists on Thursday (20 September).
"The changes will be fully functional by the end of the year," Jourova said. She had called on the San Francisco-based website in July to better inform consumers of their rights, because it was in breach of EU rules.

3 More Years of Abe: Japan's Foreign Policy Future

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn’t have any time to rest after his victory in his party’s leadership vote on Thursday. He will travel to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly next week and is also due to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, with North Korea and trade likely to dominate talks.
“The visit to New York will serve as a meaningful opportunity to confirm close coordination with the United States and other countries in dealing with common challenges both at the regional and global levels,” Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, said, via Kyodo News.
Abe – who was re-elected to a third three-year term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, extending his long tenure as prime minister – faces plenty of domestic challenges in the near future, including implementing social reforms to deal with Japan’s aging and declining population. But he also has to manage a range of international challenges.

U.S. Extends Date for Cutting Ties With Deripaska's Rusal, En+

The U.S. extended the deadline for cutting ties with companies controlled by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska until just after the midterm elections, delaying a clash with Congress over the handling of sanctions against Russia.

The Treasury Department announced the extension Friday, citing a potential change in control of United Co. Rusal and En+ Group Plc.

Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK

Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.
A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.
One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.

Friday, September 21, 2018

30,000 Ukrainian households benefit from EBRD’s energy efficiency programme

Programme reaches milestone of UAH 1 billion invested into energy-efficient home improvements
  • UREEF (IQ energy) programme reaches milestone of more than UAH 1 billion invested in energy-efficient home improvements by local banks
  • Over 30,000 Ukrainian households have taken out loans; most will qualify for partial investment grants from donors
  • Financing made available with donor support of E5P and Sweden

The EBRD-managed programme supporting energy efficiency in Ukrainian homes has reached a milestone of investing over UAH 1 billion (equivalent of over €30 million). More than 30,000 Ukrainian households took out loans from local commercial banks which participate in the programme to invest in green technologies for their homes; of those, over 20 thousand projects have already been verified as eligible for investment grants.

Мы делили Украину

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Executive Order Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Public Law 115-44) (CAATSA), the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-272), as amended (UFSA), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergencies declared in Executive Order 13660 of March 6, 2014, as expanded in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in subsequent Executive Orders, and Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, as relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13757 of December 28, 2016, hereby order:

Ukrainian Week in London: Presenting Today’s Ukraine to the UK

Ukrainian Week in London, to be held October 8–11, 2018, is a major initiative launched by Bate C. Toms, Chairman of the British-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (BUCC), and Yuriy Kosyuk, founder and Chairman of MHP, an agricultural company listed on the London Stock Exchange. For this initiative, business joins forces with the civil society and the expert community to explore the common interests of the UK and Ukraine in the context of rising global challenges and to call attention in the UK to investment, trade, and other opportunities in Ukraine.
In the last 4+ years, Ukraine has undergone significant transformation, driven by the country’s decisive steps in the direction of integrating itself with the Western world. It has made important strides in its transformation into a European market economy, having modernised its banking system, created new institutions for effective fight against corruption, and introduced regulatory changes that make Ukraine easier to invest in.

EU steps up its strategy for connecting Europe and Asia

The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy today adopted a Joint Communication that sets out the EU's vision for a new and comprehensive strategy to better connect Europe and Asia.
The Joint Communication builds on the European Union's own experience of enhancing connections between its Member States, with and in other regions. With sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based connectivity at its core, the Communication will help to guide the EU's external action in this field and is a part of the implementation of its Global Strategy.
The Joint Communication on elements for an EU strategy on connecting Europe and Asia is available online.

Serhiy Nayev: "The Joint Forces should put an end to Russian aggression against Ukraine"

The Ukrainian Week discussed the first results of the Joint Forces Operation in the Donbas with its commander, Lieutenant-General Serhiy Nayev.

– Unlike the ATO, the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) operation is a military one. At the same time, it is a package of military, organisational and legal measures aimed at guaranteeing national security and defence, as well as the deterrence and repression of Russian armed aggression.

We are dealing with the occupation of certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions by a Russian aggressor that has created the bogus "DPR" and "LPR" organisations and keeps them at the point of bayonets in order to weaken and destabilise Ukraine.

In essence, the 1st and 2nd Army Corps that the occupants have formed in the territories under their control in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions respectively are subordinated to the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces.

The problem with Irish: Ignoring the language issue risks the likelihood that Ukrainian will disappear altogether in Ukraine

A few years ago, Manchán Magan, an Irish writer and journalist, travelled across Ireland from Dublin pretending he only spoke Irish. He discovered that the staff of most service providers and stores could not communicate with him. Here is how Magan described one of his experiences: “‘Do you speak English?’ a sales assistant asked in a cold intimidating voice. ‘Sea,’ I said, nodding meekly. ‘Well, can you speak English to me now?’ I told him as simply as I could that I was trying to get by with Irish. ‘I'm not talking to you any more,’ he said. ‘Go away.’” Encouragingly, Magan told the sales assistant that he could understand him if he spoke English. “English only,” was the answer from the sales assistant’s boss, who repeated it twice. When Magan asked them what other languages he could speak to them in, they pointed to a list of seven countries on the wall.

Ukrainian President: Russia must return Crimea, compensate losses incurred by Ukraine and guarantee non-recurrence of aggression

President Petro Poroshenko notes that Ukraine seeks peace by political and diplomatic means, as it is in line with the national interests of the state. He said this during the Address in the Verkhovna Rada "On the Internal and External Situation of Ukraine in 2018".
"The Kremlin is trying to persuade our allies of the alleged preparation by Ukraine of the power scenario for the liberation of the Donbas. Of course, we should have this option, because every army should be ready for any scenarios. Ukraine has the right to self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. And we have emphasized this separately in the recently approved Law on the Donbas reintegration. But our strategy for peace is to reach it politically and diplomatically, because it is optimal for Ukraine and is in line with our national interests," he emphasized.

Parliament votes for change in Constitution on Ukraine's path to EU, NATO

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has sent to the Constitutional Court a presidential bill amending Ukraine's Constitution regarding the strategic course of the state for obtaining full membership of Ukraine in the EU and NATO (No. 9037). The relevant bill was backed by 321 MPs out of the 366 registered in the session hall, an UNIAN correspondent reports.

The bill proposes that Ukraine's irreversible course toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration be stipulated in the preamble of the Fundamental Law along with the confirmation of European identity of the Ukrainian people.

U.S. sanctions China for buying Russia war planes, missiles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the branch of the Chinese military responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.

Невзоровские среды на радио «Эхо Москвы» . Эфир от 19.09.2018

President Erdoğan meets representatives of US companies in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received Turkish representatives of American companies in the capital late Sept. 19.
"Turkey's strategic cooperation with the U.S. will be further strengthened through investment and trade, despite all the ups and downs," Erdogan said, highlighting the importance of the meeting.
"You know very well what Turkey has accomplished despite the instability, conflict and hardship in the region. The problems we are facing at the moment are never insurmountable for us. Turkey's future will be much brighter."
The closed-door meeting at the presidential complex lasted two and a half hours.

What’s Next for the New ASEAN-Singapore Cyber Center?

This week, Singapore announced the setting up of a new cybersecurity body to boost the capabilities of Southeast Asian states in this realm. While the move is just the latest in a string of measures proposed by the city-state over the past few years, it nonetheless bears noting within the context of the significant challenges that the region faces in the cyber domain and Singapore’s leadership efforts in helping manage those in concert with regional partners.
As I have noted before in these pages, Singapore as a country and Southeast Asia as a region have been grapping with a growing cyber challenge as states try to balance the opportunities afforded by the digital economy – a significant driver of economic and technological progress – with the issues raised due to the increased sophistication of cyber threats in an increasingly networked world and their links to other challenges such as terrorism and fake news.

The Big Lebowski review – The Dude bowls back the years

After 20 years, the shaggy-dog stoner LA noir that may be the Coens’ comic masterpiece rolls back on to the big screen, as light and insouciant as the tumbleweed from the old west that drifts incongruously up to the city in the opening sequence. In fact, after two decades, the film looks weirdly less shaggy, less dishevelled to me: sleeker, sharper, more integrated and with more menace, more mystery. (I found myself thinking of Thomas Pynchon and of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive). Sam Elliott’s basso profundo narrator, topping and tailing the action and appearing enigmatically in the middle, creates a fascinating residue of unease. But there are just as many laughs.
Our sub-Chandleresque hero is Jeffrey “the Dude” Lebowski, unforgettably played by Jeff Bridges: a younger or more lightweight actor would have made this character seem merely silly. He is a man whose plot function is so close to that of the classic private eye that he is mistaken for one by another private eye late on in the film.

Ukraine’s Ports Show Struggles to Join Global Economy

Gleaming silos, towering container cranes and hulking cargo ships docked at quaysides in Europe’s biggest corn and sunflower producer should be a symbol of an agricultural exporting powerhouse.
Instead, it’s a cautionary tale of how Ukraine may squander another opportunity to plug the former Soviet republic into the global economy and give safe harbor to the world’s biggest investors.
It’s not just Ukraine’s increasingly forgotten four-year civil conflict that’s an issue here along the Black Sea. It’s also about whether authorities are committed to modernizing a nation that sits astride Russia and the European Union. The risk is that it falls back to the cronyism and corruption that has plagued the country even after two post-communist uprisings.

New York State and City Anti-Harassment Laws

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, New York State and New York City governments have passed new laws aimed at sexual harassment prevention.  Businesses with operations in New York State and/or New York City must comply with these new laws.
New York City: Effective September 6, 2018, all employers in New York City must post an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster and provide an information sheet on sexual harassment to each employee at the time of hire – both of which are available on the New York City Commission on Human Right’s website.  The links to the poster and information sheet are below.  The poster must be at least 8.5” x 14” (legal size) and posted in both English and Spanish.
Please see the following links for additional information:

The next big scandal of Odessa City Hall waiting to happen?

Such is the scale and breadth of corruption within Odessa City Hall under Mayor Gennady Trukhanov, it takes circumstances quite special for the next major scam and criminal activity to stand out as either brazen or of significance by way of future implications.
When such particular circumstances form, the blog usually tries to identify them before (or at the very least as) they happen so a reader can watch events unfold.  Unfortunately there are simply too many such incidents commented upon by the blog to link to them all.  A reader is therefore left to employ the search engine within the blog.
The planets are currently aligning for the next big criminal scandal to occur within Mayor Turkhanov’s Odessa City Hall – and despite 4 or 5 large NABU investigations into City Hall, a reader will be all too aware that this is unlikely to be a deterrent to those involved.

How Trump is changing the balance of appeals courts

President Trump has appointed judges to the U.S. appeals courts at a record pace. Those judges are on track to tilt the ideological balance in a conservative direction.

#DisinfoReview: How to Rob Peter to Pay Paul

What do you do when one of your heaviest disinformation attacks backfires? You send out way more disinformation attacks and hope that they will silence the outrage about such obvious attempts to deceive and mislead the international community.
We have seen exactly this pattern during the last week in Russia’s disinformation ecosystem. The pro-Kremlin outlets were still hectically spreading all kinds of contradictory stories about the Skripal case and the suspects that had been identified by the British authorities  when they received  a “helping hand”: an interview with so-called Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov (the duo suspected of poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter), conducted by Margarita Simonyan, the head of the main international disinformation organisation of the Kremlin, Russia Today (renamed RT).

Which is Better for Business Owners: Compensation or Dividends?

One of the major changes in the tax law enacted last December in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was the creation of a new deduction for “qualified business income.” As a general rule, this deduction allows individuals who are either sole proprietors or who own interests in businesses that are formed as limited liability companies, partnerships, or S corporations to deduct from their gross income an amount that may be as high as 20 percent of their share of that entity’s income.
If an individual is actively engaged in such a trade or business, that individual should consider whether it is better to receive compensation or a dividend from the business.

European Court of Justice Delivers Victory for EU Transparency and Accountability

The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union recently issued a landmark judgment finding that impact assessments should be considered public documents. This decision sets a legal precedent in connection with the transparency, accountability, and decision-making processes of European institutions.
Case Background
A non-profit organization active in the field of environment protection had sought to access two impact assessment reports, which had played an influential role in the proposals of certain environmental laws.
The European Commission refused both requests, pursuant to Regulation No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council, and Commission documents. According to Article I, the purpose of the regulation is to:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hungary's consulate reportedly issues Hungarian passports to Ukrainians (Video)

Ukrainians with Hungarian passports are asked to conceal the fact of obtaining Hungarian citizenship from the Ukrainian authorities.

The consulate of Hungary in the town of Berehove in Ukraine's Zakarpattia region has reportedly issued Hungarian passports to citizens of Ukraine.

Decree on termination of friendship treaty between Ukraine, Russia comes into force

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko's decree on the decision of the National Security and Defense Council dated September 6, 2018 "On the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation" was published in the Uriadovy Kurier newspaper on Wednesday.
According to the corresponding decree signed by the head of the Ukrainian state on September 17, it comes into force from the day of its publication.

U.S. Senate approves Pentagon's draft budget for 2019 increasing aid to Ukraine at $250 mln

The United States Senate has approved the Pentagon's draft budget for 2019, which increases assistance to Ukraine at $250 million, the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States has said.
"The U.S. Senate has approved the draft of "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019," previously agreed with the House of Representatives, which provides $250 million to help Ukraine," the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States said on Facebook on Tuesday.
This defense budget exceeds the budget of 2018, which is $50 million more for the corresponding support programs of the Ukrainian state.

We will not allow revenge. Russia will never return to Ukraine - Ukrainian President

"We will not allow revenge. And Putin will never make a decision for the Ukrainian people anymore," President Petro Poroshenko said during the participation in the artistic event "Premiere - evening of concerts by Myroslav Skoryk". The Head of State once again expressed conviction that "tomorrow our people's deputies will vote for the presidential amendments to the Constitution, in which the European and Euro-Atlantic choice of a sovereign independent Ukrainian state is clearly fixed".
The President stressed that "the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian authorities will never again ask for Putin's permission to go to Europe".

Philanthropy and your Family Business

More and more family owned businesses, from the largest to the smallest, are engaging in philanthropy. Many family businesses use philanthropy as a way to develop and commit to fundamental family values for current and future generations; publicly express the values of the family business, support the community, and benefit from the attendant reputational goodwill; provide an opportunity for family members not active in the family business to further the family business values in a meaningful way and to teach younger generations about philanthropy and the family business’s culture and philosophies; and, provides an opportunity to involve valued employees of the business, family and non-family, in activities to strengthen their bonds and commitment to the family business, and afford them an opportunity to support the family business’s values, add value to the community, and build and maintain camaraderie and morale.
There are many options for a family business to carry out its philanthropic activities and goals, including:

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Court sanctions detention of ex-Major Melnychenko, arrest of his property, accounts in state treason case

Kyiv's Pechersky District Court on September 10, 2018 at the behest of Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) sanctioned the arrest of ex-Major Mykola Melnychenko, a former officer of the State Security Department and figure in the so-called "Cassette Scandal" from 2000. The court order also permits the arrest of Melnychenko's property and bank accounts in criminal case No. 42015000000001762 from August 9, 2015.
Melnychenko is suspected of committing state treason by means of espionage, divulging state secrets and legalizing funds received in a criminal manner, acts punishable under Part 1 of Article 111, Part 2 of Article 328, Part 3 of Article 365 and Part 2 of Article 209 of Ukraine's Criminal Code.