Personnel

Ukraine army tackles snow chaos amid Kiev emergency.

Armoured personnel carriers are being used in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to drag buses and other vehicles out of snowdrifts, amid a state of emergency.The authorities say the normal monthly level of snow fell in just 24 hours.
The blizzard conditions caused power cuts in about 600 towns and villages across Ukraine at the weekend.
Hundreds of soldiers are helping Kiev’s citizens to dig out cars buried in snow and the city is struggling to get public transport moving again.

A state of emergency was declared on Saturday, as some 50cm (20in) of snow blanketed Kiev.
Most of the country’s newspapers failed to appear on Monday, BBC Monitoring reports.Ukraine is expected to remain gripped by severe weather for the next few days.

The worst affected regions are Kiev, Ternopil, Rivne, Volyn and Khmelnytsky.In Kiev thousands of drivers were trapped in their cars overnight and had to walk home braving a blizzard at the weekend, Irena Taranyuk of BBC Ukrainian reports.
Some people have taken to skiing along streets blanketed in snow.
There has been some disruption to food supplies, with some people complaining about bread shortages in supermarkets.The Kiev authorities are working to put trolleybuses and trams back into service, but buses are running on the main routes click for more information.

UTair

UTair-Ukraine Airlines launches Kiev-Vilnius flight.

On March 22, 2013 the airline expands its route network, connecting the capitals of Ukraine and Lithuania, the company said in a statement. The regular flight will be operated three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and since the 27th of April it will be operated daily, writes LETA/ELTA.
Departure time from the new Terminal A of Kiev (Zhulyany) International Airport is 10:20, from Vilnius International Airport – 13:10 (local time), estimated flight time is 01 hour 20 minutes.
On the route Kiev – Vilnius the airline will operate new (2012 year of production) comfortable aircrafts ATR-72-500. Onboard service is provided in Premium-Economy and Economy classes, passengers are serviced with meals and beverages.

Convenient connections in Kiev (Zhulyany) Airport allows residents of Lithuania to travel to other destinations of UTair-Ukraine – Odessa, L’viv, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Lugansk and Tbilisi. Since the 01st of June the connection Vilnius – Simferopol will be available also.The airline provides its clients with opportunity to earn miles in frequent flyers program Status for flying the new destination Kiev – Vilnius.
Booking and sales are available at the airlines web-site www.utair.ua , at the airport ticketing offices and in travel agencies.
UTair-Ukraine Airlines – dynamically developing Ukrainian airline, founded in 2009. Its fleet consists of modern and comfortable aircrafts ATR-72-500, ATR-42, Boeing 737-400, CRJ-200. The base airports are Kiev” (Zhulyany) International Airport and Lugansk International Airport. Route network includes domestic flights from Kiev to Donetsk, Lviv, Odessa, Lugansk, Kharkov, international flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tbilisi and Baku, as well as charter flights to Antalya, Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh.
In 2012 UTair-Ukraine carried 420 thousand passengers, which is 90% more than at the same period in 2011.

Magically

Don’t worry Ukraine, be happy – here’s how.
March 20 was International Day of Happiness. Yeah, big deal, someone would say, but not me.
Seeing how many people out there are not happy for no reason, I’ve decided to write about it. You see, I’ve been quite unhappy sometimes as well, but now, after analyzing the reasons of my unhappiness, I tend to think that it was not the situation I was in, but more the attitude I had towards it.
Did you ever think about things that make you happy? Did you ever think that if you would magically wish for three things in your life, which will make you fulfilled and help you to enjoy life to the fullest?

Or are you the person, who always finds a reason to feel dissatisfied and unhappy?
Do accomplishments of other people make you feel bad about your own career?Does the beauty of actresses make you feel less wanted?

Do you need 1 million euros in cash to make all your problems go away?
Or do you feel like you are surrounded by people who aren’t making you happy?Or maybe if only you had a better partner in life, all your troubles would magically go away?
Do you ever feel satisfied with what you get from life? Or do you complain to yourself and others, because you feel your present condition is not good enough?

Faces

Every time I go back to Ukraine, I notice how many grumpy, unfriendly and unhappy faces are on the streets.According to the Satisfaction With Life Index, which was created by Adrian G. White, an analytic social psychologist at the University of Leicester, back in 2006 Ukraine was 174th place out of 178 in happiness, just after Sudan. I guess not much changed now in 2013.

You can blame it on a general economic or political situation, bad weather or lack of love or money. But let’s face it – our people just love to be unhappy and complain all the time. I know. I am one of them.My very good friend Abigail from the United States told me how, after coming from sunny and happy California, she felt like people in Germany never smile and never look satisfied: “You haven’t been to Ukraine or Russia,” was my answer.

I am not talking about people who face serious troubles and challenges in their lives at the moment – the death of relatives and friends, inability to feed children, broken hearts – these are all reasons to feel bad for a while.

Nevertheless, many people enjoy the feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness throughout lives.
Their apartment is not big enough, their car is not fancy, their beautiful wives’ breasts could have been bigger, their salaries could have more zeroes in it and, oh my God, a holiday in Turkey is so cliché, if only they could go to Maldives.

I think most people realize that the reasons of them being unhappy are not external, but it is within. From their childhood, they are used to blame others for their misfortunes, thus forgetting that no one else will ever make them happy except for themselves.I thought of some things which helped me to look optimistic into the future, even in bad situations.

Compare

Never compare your beginning with someone’s middle.

Many people I know, including myself made this mistake. The right answer would be not to compare your little start-up to the Google or an internship as a graphic designer to being creative director of Leo-Burnett. It’s better to spend the time learning new things, improving your skills and setting goals for the next five years. If you see someone’s success, don’t ask yourself: “Why am I not there?” but rather “What do I need to do to be there?”

Try to value small things in life.

If you only think you can be happy flying in a private jet over the Atlantic Ocean to a personal tropical island, then you will never get there. Look at the sunset on your grandma’s village, laughing kids on a playground, value those couple of beers you had with your student friends in the backyard of your university. Take a small walk in the city center, smell the fresh air on Kyiv Sea, have a late-night talk with an old friend – all these things can make your heart beat faster much more than sex with a supermodel and a private yacht. Those two can be quite exciting too, but if you don’t have those, it doesn’t mean your life is worthless. One can never be satisfied until he truly values things he or she already has.

Think big.

When making too much drama about something, think big. Is this problem really life-changing to you? Will it matter in 10 years? Will it even matter in one month? Most of people tend to laugh about their childhood troubles. Unless you have terminal cancer or war just broke out in your neighborhood, think twice before jumping out of the window with no goodbye note.

Value your true friends.

This might be quite a silly recommendation, but a lot of people forget how important social connections are until something bad happens and they look for help. Friends are those people, who will help you get back on track, when something really serious happens.

Try

Never try to make everyone love you.

Another illusion I faced as a kid. Being a single child in my family, I made quite a huge deal out of some people not liking me. And with my character, trust me, lots of people didn’t like me. I cried and I yelled and I prayed to be the most popular girl, until I realized that I shouldn’t care about opinions of people whom I don’t really care about. The only opinions I should care about are the people whom I love and who love me. The rest can get lost=)

If you want to achieve something – do something.

My dad and his brother both started university in the ‘70s. Coming from small provincial town of Kryvyy Rig, they both got into prestigious Moscow University. Many people suggested, they had connections and money for bribes. It didn’t occur to them that my dad was waking up at six every morning before school to study extra physics and math for two years before school graduation, so did his brother with history in order to get into the law faculty. It is always easier to enjoy your misery in the company of similar to you, complaining about social injustice. Many people who complained to me that they couldn’t achieve something have never even tried. Just because they are sure that they will fail. The same story is with sports. A lot of overweight people do not even start exercising, but yet they bother to complain about how hard their lives are on the Internet forums and TV shows.

If it is not working, try harder.

Some people don’t give enough effort in order to get what they want. The answer can be that they either don’t want it enough or that are lazy. Giving up too early is a huge mistake in the pursuit of your life goals and happiness.

Analyze

If it is still not working out, analyze the situation and be honest with yourself.

A lot of people I know back in Ukraine started their careers at quite an early age. They studied something they didn’t really like, but for one reason or another it seemed like an option to them or their parents. When I started university, the most popular faculties were law and economics. Many teenagers believed that getting a diploma in these disciplines will magically open doors to wealth, success and thus happiness. Nevertheless, many of those people were too young to actually decide what they really want and care about, so eventually they would try quite hard but get no result and no satisfaction out of their work.

It is never late to learn new things.

This one derives from the previous statement. There are people, who think it is too late to begin studying or start a new career at the age of 30, 35 or 40. My mom’s friend studied environmental science, worked as an accountant and finally made the right choice and became a landscape designer at the age of 45. She feels happy now, because she is finally doing what she really likes and what she was destined to do, but was too afraid to pursue.

Look on the brighter side.

There is always a positive side to everything. Try to find one even in the most difficult situation. Recent snow storm blocked your car and you cannot drive to Bukovel to ski? Maybe it is time to try out skiing down the Andriivski Uzviz instead!

Don’t keep grudges.

If someone hurt you in one or another way, he or she is not a person you would want to care about anyway. They are not worth your sleepless nights and sedatives prescriptions. Nor they are worth your grey hair. Hating someone else would not fill your life with joy. It will just make you a miserable negative person. And no, you wont look as cool as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

Many people

If something doesn’t work out for you, don’t see it as a failure, but rather enjoy the experience you had and learn the lesson for the future.
Many people, whose names we know and respect now, started with making mistakes and bad choices. Being stressed and sad is okay for a short time, but in a longer run it is not worth it.

Challenge yourself constantly.
When my grandpa was little, they didn’t have enough food in his family, so he told himself that his goal in life is to “eat enough bread.” I’m not judging my grandpa, he lived quite a full life, but when now, at the age of 85, he proudly notes, that he fulfilled his life’s challenge (and I guess he did it already at 28), I only smile. You can never reach a horizon. Moreover, challenging yourself helps you to avoid routine, which eventually become a reason for mid-life crisis and depression.

Don’t procrastinate (too much).
Dreaming is good. Working on reaching your dream is better. Even if you procrastinate a bit, try to do it with some use. Sometimes the best ideas happen, when you do side projects instead of your main job. Nevertheless, checking out Facebook or looking at videos on YouTube doesn’t qualify as side projects. Just saying.

Be grateful for what you’ve got, not unhappy about what you don’t have.
A friend of mine offered me to write a list of things I am grateful for every morning. In this way, she said, you will start your day positively, seeing actually, that there are many things in life, which are worth being happy about.

Personal connections

Don’t try to see a negative pattern in your past.

We often tend to see patterns in our past failed relationships, job efforts or personal connections. Just because it didn’t work out with two guys out of three billion, doesn’t make you “non-marriage material.” The same goes to being fired from your first job at Starbucks. Unless of course you exes or your boss told you that you were selfish and lazy and bitchy and not responsible and came late to work all the time and cheated on your partners constantly. Then there is time to change something about your attitude.

Don’t be jealous of others wealth and accomplishments.

This is quite a stereotype of a Ukrainian mentality. Some people can only be happy when they see others being in a worse situation than them. I mentioned some old Ukrainian anecdote about a Ukrainian and a gold fish. When the fish told him that with each his wish, his neighbor will get twice as much, the guy wished to lose his eye. Maybe it is our mentality, but it has to change. Instead of concentrating on others, better do something for yourself. Sometimes it can be really hard. Germans even have a saying “Leben is keinPonyhof” (Life is not a pony yard). Remember, that happiness is not something eternal. Being sad sometimes is completely okay. Without being blue sometimes, it would be hard to appreciate the opposite feeling. Being unhappy without a reason is not healthy though. Life is full of positive surprises, so don’t miss on those.

EBRD

Ukraine, EBRD sign EUR 300 m loan agreement to improve safety of NPPs.
Ukraine and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Monday signed a loan agreement worth EUR 300 million as part of a comprehensive program to improve the safety of nuclear reactors at Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs).

An Interfax-Ukraine reporter said that the agreement had been signed by Energy and Coal Industry Minister Eduard Stavytsky, Acting President of the Energoatom Nuclear Energy Generating Company Vissarion Kim and EBRD Director in Ukraine Andre Kuusvek.

“This project is very important for Ukraine in the context of maintaining a high degree of safety at its nuclear reactors,” Kuusvek said.
The allocation of funds will start in 2013, the term of the loan is 15 years, and the interest rate is euro Libor +1%.

As reported, on March 12, 2013, the EBRD decided to participate in a comprehensive safety upgrade program for the operating nuclear power units of Ukraine with a EUR 300 million loan.

Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community, will provide EUR 300 million towards the total cost of the program, which is estimated at EUR1.4 billion.

Energoatom

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine declared it reasonable for Energoatom to raise a loan of EUR 600 million from the EBRD and Euratom to implement a comprehensive program to improve the safety of Ukrainian NPPs.

The Ukrainian government, with cabinet resolution No. 1270 of December 7, 2011, approved a comprehensive program to increase the safety of reactors at NPPs for 2012-2017 worth a total of UAH 12.453 billion. According to the document, the sources of program financing will be loans from the EBRD and Euratom worth UAH 8 billion, and UAH 4.453 billion of Energoatom’s own funds.

The implementation of the program will allow the country to bring the level of safety of Ukrainian nuclear units to international standards, as well as ensure the full implementation of Ukraine’s international obligations on improving the safety of the existing nuclear power plants.

Energoatom operates all four of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine – Zaporizhia NPP, Yuzhnoukrainsk NPP, Rivne NPP, and Khmelnytsky NPP, with fifteen generating units outfitted with water-cooled fast-breeder reactors with an installed generating capacity of 13.835 gigawatts.

Buy more gas from Europe

Russia’s Gazprom dismisses Ukraine threat to buy more gas from Europe.
Ukraine’s plan to buy more gas from Europe and reduce imports from Russia will not work because European prices are rising, Russia’s Gazprom said, signalling it will not budge in a price dispute with Kiev.

Ukraine, a transit route for more than half of Russian gas shipped to the European Union, wants to pay less for gas from Russia because it says a 2009 deal with Moscow set an exorbitant price, and aims to buy more from Europe.

But Alexei Miller, head of Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom, said on Monday that spot gas prices, which have spiked recently in Europe, would be unaffordable for Ukraine.

“The price for Russian gas, which is being supplied to Ukraine, is significantly lower than the spot price, which has settled in continental Europe,” Miller told reporters.”Ukraine will not be able to bear the spot prices,” he said.

Gazprom sells gas to Ukraine at a fixed price of $430 per 1,000 cubic metres, higher than the recent average European spot price but European prices are rising.”(They are) almost twice as much as Gazprom sells to Ukraine under the long-term agreement,” Miller said.

The European market is volatile though. On Friday the spot price of gas in the London market jumped to above 150 pence per therm, or around $630 per 1,000 cubic metres, due to unseasonally cold weather. By Monday, however, it had fallen to 100 pence per therm, only around 5 pence per therm above the Russian oil-linked gas price.The March average UK spot gas price is around 85.6 pence a therm, so still some 10 pence below the Russian price.
Ukraine began importing a small volume of gas from Europe last year and wants to import up to 8 billion cubic metres of gas a year from central Europe to replace expensive Russian supplies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich discussed the price dispute earlier this month but there was no breakthrough to end the standoff.

Moscow has demanded concessions as a condition for reviewing the price agreement, such as Ukraine joining a Russia-led trade bloc or giving up control of its pipeline network.

Ukraine agreed its gas contract with Russia under former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 on abuse-of-office charges, including for her part in signing the gas deal with Russia. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Azarov

Azarov: To join Customs Union Ukraine would have to quit WTO, which is unsound.
In order to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Ukraine would have to quit the World Trade Organization, or revise its agreement with the WTO, which is counterproductive, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has said.

“Ukraine as an independent state is bound by a number of international agreements. It joined the World Trade Organization before Russia. We are facing a very simple question: either we quit the WTO and join the Customs Union, or we must revise our agreement with the WTO as part of our commitments to the Customs Union, which is very difficult and counterproductive,” he said in an interview with Russia’s TV channel Mir aired on Sunday evening.

According to him, during the first stage Ukraine will become an observer at the Customs Union and will gradually adapt and adjust to the new format of cooperation with the member states of the Union.

Young people

Ukraine: so near and yet so far.
Olga will not be able to go and see her husband who lives in France. Both of them are Ukrainian.
She used to go and visit him regularly, but since they got married last December she has had more trouble obtaining a visa from French authorities.

“It is not that I feel humiliated,” says Olga, “but I feel helpless. I feel that we don’t have the same rights as young people from European countries, and that is the problem.”The main preoccupation for young Ukrainians who want to see the world is visas. European embassies do not hand them out that easily.

Simply submitting a request is a real obstacle course for the inhabitants of Donetsk who live some 700 kilometres from the capital Kiev, home to most of the embassies.

Many young Ukrainians dream of emigrating to Europe. In Donetsk, an industrial mining town in eastern Ukraine, the average monthly salary is less than 300 euros.
Ukraine is the largest country on the European continent after Russia. It lies at the cross-roads of Europe: to the West, the European Union and the dream of a better life, and to the east, Moscow, and its historic influence over Ukraine.

Professor Ihor Todorov, a Europe specialist at Donetsk University, told euronews: “Some young people have really lost hope and all they think about is how to leave the country. But there are others who are hoping to stay and want to work hard to create better standards of life for themselves, to bring European standards of living to Ukraine.”

Tourism

Kristina is one of those young Ukrainians who dream of a better life in Europe. She works as a tourism officer and believes that, soon, Ukraine will be in her past.
“I’m ready to migrate, to live in a country with higher standards,” Kristina tells us. “I hope better times will come to Ukraine because we have so much to offer but I don’t know when this time will come and I have only 60 or 70 years to live, I’m not immortal.”

More than 20 years after independence, surveys show nearly half of Ukrainians want to develop closer ties with Europe, while one third feel closer to their historical ally, Russia.Most do not envisage EU accession for at least another 30 years.

“Our economic and political system, our values don’t answer EU requirements,” Kristina tells us. “If you look at countries like Bulgaria or Romania which joined the EU not long ago, you can see that it’s not working for them and I’m afraid my country would run the same risk.”Kristina also works as a mentor for young foreigners who come to work in Ukraine as part of European exchange programmes.

Fabien is one of them. He has settled in well, and has even swapped the traditional French croissant for the traditional borsch soup for breakfast.As part of his European Voluntary Service, Fabien teaches Human Rights and Democracy at a Donetsk high school.
International observers from the OSCE denounced last year’s election as a backward step for democracy in Ukraine, marred by “the abuse of power and the excessive role of money”.
“These values (human rights, democracy) already exist here but they’re under-developed,” says Fabien. “The problem is there’s a lack of civic education here. There’s not enough talk of the place of people in society. There’s not much thought, no real debate. When it comes to politics, people are disillusioned, understandably, and they don’t want to get involved.”

Back to Olga, in another classroom. She is taking French lessons at the Alliance Francaise in Donetsk, with the hope of going to university in Toulouse.Whatever it takes, she is determined to find a way of joining her husband in France.

Kiev considering gas

Kiev considering gas purchase from Europe.

A Ukrainian energy company announced plans to sign a short-term contract for natural gas from a German energy company “in the nearest future.”

Ukraine in January purchased more than 63.5 billion cubic feet of gas from Russian energy company Gazprom and another 109 billion cf in February because of the intense cold snap that gripped much of Europe.

The country aims to purchase 106 million cf from German energy company RWE in an effort to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas.

“Naftogaz Ukraine plans to sign a short-term contract with Germany’s RWE to deliver spot gas, bought in Europe, through Slovakian pipelines to Ukraine,” Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti quoted local Ukrainian media as saying. “The signing is likely to happen in the nearest future.”

Ukrainian officials have pressed for a better natural gas deal from Russia since 2009. The Ukrainian government has complained that deal is hurting an already bruised economy.

Russia wants control over Ukraine’s natural gas transit system as part of a deal to secure a better price, though the Ukrainian government has balked at that idea. Russia sends about 80 percent of its natural gas for European consumers through Ukraine’s gas transit system.

Ukraine outlook

S&P cuts Ukraine outlook on refinancing risk.

Standard and Poor’s cut its outlook on Ukraine’s long-term credit rating to negative on Thursday citing Kiev’s lack of progress in talks with the International Monetary Fund and sole gas supplier Russia.

The move followed an announcement by Ukraine’s deputy economy minister earlier on Thurday that the cash strapped country wanted to delay repayment of $3 billion of debt it owes the IMF this year by a decade.

S&P currently rates the former Soviet republic’s long and short term debt ‘B+/B’.

“The negative outlook reflects our view of increased risks regarding Ukraine’s significant fiscal and external refinancing needs,” S&P said in a statement.

Kiev’s efforts to restructure its debt, a break with policy, jolted the debt market. Ukrainian five-year credit default swaps were 18 basis points higher on the day at 768 bps according to Markit, though S&P’s announcement failed to lift them higher still. Ukrainian debt spreads widened by 37 basis points on the day to 770 bps over U.S. Treasuries on JPMorgan’s EMBI+ index .

“In our view, increased risk aversion toward Ukraine’s funding needs has been fueled by the lack of clarity over the ultimate direction of government policy in relation to ongoing negotiations with the IMF and Russian gas company, OAO Gazprom ,” S&P said.

Ukraine’s government has tried without success for over a year to negotiate a lower price on Russian gas that Ukraine depends on heavily for its energy and heating needs.

Hoping to get a substantial discount from Russia, the cabinet has also refused to follow the IMF’s advice and raise gas and heating prices for households, prompting the Fund to suspend its $15 billion lending programme in early 2011.

As a condition for reviewing the gas price for Ukraine, Russia insists on taking a stake in Ukraine’s pipeline network which transports the bulk of Russian gas bound for Europe.

But Ukraine sees the asset as a cornerstone of its economic sovereignty and says it can only be managed by a consortium which would also include large European energy firms.

“It seems unlikely to us that a deal to lower the price of gas imports will be made without Ukraine giving up control of key energy infrastructure assets,” S&P said.

Analysts say the issue of raising domestic gas prices, an IMF condition, is unlikely to be resolved until the parliamentary elections in October as the move is certain to hurt the government’s already sagging popularity. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Ben Harding)

Yanukovych

Yanukovych hopes to reach new gas deal in May.

Ukraine hopes to work out a new deal on the supplies of Russian gas by late May, after Russian president elect Vladimir Putin assumes power, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Thursday.

Yanukovich’s government has sought for more than a year to negotiate a lower price on Russian gas but talks have produced no results so far.Kiev, which is paying $416 per thousand cubic metres, sees a fairer price at $250.

“Expert groups are working right now, and we hope by the end of May, by the last decade of May, an acceptable solution will be found that we will discuss with… Putin,” UNIAN news agency quoted Yanukovich as saying on a trip to the south-eastern city of Zaporizhya.

Yanukovich, who met Putin in Moscow this week said he also planned to meet the Russian prime minister in mid-April, before his May 7 inauguration as president.

Ukraine’s government says the high price of imported gas is a drag on the country’s economy and state budget. Ukraine heavily subsidises gas supplies to households and heating companies.
Rating agency Standard and Poor’s downgraded its outlook on Ukraine’s credit ratings to negative citing, among other factors, the “lack of clarity over the ultimate direction of government policy” with regards to gas talks with Russia.
Russia has long insisted it would review the price only if its giant gas company Gazprom was allowed to take over Ukrainian gas transit pipelines or if Ukraine joined a Russia-led Customs Union. Kiev has so far dismissed both options.

However, Yanukovich is now under political pressure to deliver a solution to the gas issue as his Party of the Regions has been slipping in opinion polls ahead of the October parliament elections.

Previous price disputes between the two nations have led to disruptions of Gazprom’s supplies to Europe through Ukraine’s territory, prompting Russia to create alternative export routes that bypass Ukraine. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by William Hardy)

Ukraine-Russia gas talks

Ukraine, Russia gas talks set for May.

Ukrainian and Russian officials say they expect to resume talks about a natural gas contract in May after Vladimir Putin is sworn in as Russian president.

Ukraine, under the terms of a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia, is paying roughly $416 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas. It wants a price near $250 per unit, comparable to other European consumers.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy was quoted by the Platts news service as saying that Kiev wants a “just price for natural gas.”

Both sides said they would return to the negotiating table following Putin’s inauguration in early May.

“Expert groups are working right now and we hope by the end of May, even by May 20, an acceptable solution will be found that we will discuss” the statement read.

The 2009 natural gas deal brought natural gas supplies back to Ukraine, and to downstream consumers in Europe, following a spat over contracts and debt. Kiev later sentenced former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison on charges she abused her authority when helping to broker that deal.

Ukraine International Airlines

KLM and Ukraine International Airlines Strengthen Ties.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Ukraine International Airlines are strengthening a working relationship which goes back 12 years.

Together, the airlines fly 28 times a week between Amsterdam and Kiev. In June, a fourth daily frequency will be added to the route.

In addition, KLM and Ukraine International Airlines will expand their codeshare agreement on Ukrainian domestic flights originating in Kiev operated by Ukraine International Airlines to five destinations in Ukraine — Donetsk (DOK), Dnipropetrovsk (DNK), Lviv (LWO), Odessa (ODS) and Simferopol (SIP). The same will be the case on flights originating in Amsterdam, operated by KLM, to Birmingham (BHX), Edinburgh (EDI), Manchester (MAN) and London Heathrow (LHR).

Starting 25 March, KLM and UIA will jointly start the new, high frequency, code share operations. The enhanced cooperation will be implemented in its full scope upon receipt of the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities.

With the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship on the horizon, the two carriers will offer passengers a greater choice of flights to the Ukraine so they can more easily watch matches all around the country.

“This serves to strengthen Schiphol’s position as a mainport, optimizing connections with the Eastern Europe growth market,” said KLM’s COO, Pieter Elbers. “What is more, KLM and Ukraine International Airlines’ destinations connect very well.”

UIA’s President Yuri Miroshnikov, added, “This is an excellent step in expanding access to each others markets, for both airlines, and for UIA in implementing its strategy for greater European integration”

Ukraine tightens GMO policy

Ukraine tightens GMO policy.

Ukraine in recent years has been actively discouraging GMOs, with as a result that the proportion of such products has been steadily decreasing: in 2007 about 50% of products in the Ukraine market contained a GMO, while in 2008 this number had reduced to 8%. Now in the Ukraine only 5% of all products contain GMOs, said Vladimir Semenovich, director of Ukrainian experimental food research center at a recent press conference.
Ukraine, however, continues to struggle against the GM-production, and in accordance with new rules regulating product labeling, it is planning to abandon the current definition of products containing GMO as products where the proportion of GMO exceeds 0.9%.
Presumably starting this summer, Ukraine will consider all products containing any percentage of genetically modified ingredients as GMO. The draft resolution has been already issued on the WTO website and work is underway to harmonize it with the members of the WTO in accordance with the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
U.S. and Canada strongly oppose the new definition because effect of the new rule would reduce the export of products with a share of less than 0.9% GMO in Ukraine from these countries by 90%.
The Canadia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade asked in an official letter dated February 23 for the Ukraine to clarify the appropriateness of the government decision to approve the “Procedure of labeling (marking) of food relative to their content of genetically modified organisms.”
The ministry is worried that the new labeling “[…]could lead to doubts about the safety of consumers or other characteristics of products, despite the fact that they have passed a risk assessment and were considered safe for human consumption.” The decision could be an “[…]additional barrier to trade[…]“, which goes against the obligations of Ukraine to the WTO, the letter said.

Ukrainian Catholic leader

Russian Orthodox should admit cooperation with Stalin, says Ukrainian Catholic leader.

Ecumenical relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being stymied because the Moscow patriarchate will not admit its culpability for cooperating with Stalinist regime, says Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

The leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which suffered brutal persecution during the Stalin era, said that the Russian Orthodox should acknowledge their role in that historic era. (The Russian government forced Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine to join the Orthodox Church, confiscating church properties and killing or imprisoning Catholics who resisted assimilation.)

The Moscow patriarchate’s unwillingness to acknowledge moral responsibility for cooperating in the persecution is “a serious obstacle to the development of mutual relations,” the Catholic leader said. He added: “The ability to apologize shows a lively Christian conscience, which is a precondition for the so-called healing of memories.”

The Moscow patriarchate insists that tensions in the Ukraine are caused primarily by the activity of the Eastern-rite Catholic Church, which—according to Russian Orthodox leaders—is interfering in the “canonical territory” of the Moscow patriarchate.

Ukrainian Environmentalists

Ukrainian Environmentalists Visit Cortlandt.

A group of six Ukrainian environmentalists from private and public organizations is touring Westchester as part of the Open World Leadership Center, a Eurasian exchange program initiated by the Library of Congress. The Cortlandt Rotary Club organized visits to Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants in Buchanan, Peekskill’s RESCO waste-to-energy facility and meetings with area environmentalists and politicians.

“Definitely the U.S. society is more environmentally educated. What we want to do is see the experience and implement it in our society,” said Marianna Petrova, an associate professor at Lviv State University for Life Safety in Lviv, Ukraine.

The program began in 1999, after being initiated by then Librarian of Congress and Russia expert James Billington. The program’s focus is “to enhance understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and the countries of Eurasia by developing a network of leaders in the region who have gained significant, firsthand exposure to America’s democratic, accountable government and its free-market system,” according to the mission statement of the Open World website.

“We want to learn about the experience of Rotary Clubs in America and pick up these things we can do to improve the life around us,” said Olena Rynazhevska, president of the Lviv-Zamok Rotary Chapter in Ukraine.

Much of the group’s focus appeared to be on how the environmental effects of hazardous materials is mitigated.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants was a topic of interest for the group, more than one of whom said many plants in Ukraine operated four or more reactors on one site. Indian Point has two reactors.

“All of the stations are quite big,” said Petrova. “They proclaim that all of the stations are very safe, but maybe our safe is not your safe.”

In addition to touring industrial energy and waste facilities, the group will speak with representatives from Riverkeeper, Assembly member Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) and will meet with County Executive Rob Astorino.

Fish Exports to Ukraine

Estonian Minister Discusses Fish Exports to Ukraine.

ESTONIA and UKRAINE – Fish trade was the main topic of discussion during the Estonian agriculture minister’s visit to Ukraine.
One of the main issues was customs duties, which the Ukrainian Parliament is in the midst of reforming, to the benefit of Estonia.

Currently, customs duties for fish imports to Ukraine are based on a minimum product value. But the new system of calculation will be specific to the country of origin.

“The bill, which will hopefully be approved this spring, will lead to more just and transparent customs duties for fish exported from Estonia – mainly Baltic sprat and Baltic herring. This will foster growth in trading and increase the competitiveness of Estonian fishers on the Ukrainian market,” Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder said in a press release.

Officials also discussed the distribution of fishing quota, data collection and analysis, and the use of resources from the European Fisheries Fund, including in the promotion of fisheries’ joint activities. The minister continues his trip abroad today in Moldova, where one of the topics of conversation will be agricultural aid.

Ukraine Security Service

Ukraine’s Security Service ready to prevent terrorist attacks during Euro 2012, say SBU chief.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) sees countering terrorist threats during the Euro 2012 European Football Championship in Ukraine as one of its principal tasks, SBU Chief Ihor Kalinin has said.

“We’ve been preparing for this event seriously and thoroughly. At present, almost all of the departments and regional agencies of the service are involved in this. Pursuant to the decree of Ukraine’s president, an international headquarters has been set up on the basis of the Anti-Terrorist Center [of the SBU] for the coordination of security measures with foreign law-enforcement officers, agencies and security services, which is currently successfully operating,” the SBU chief said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

According to Kalinin, the SBU’s priority tasks in the context of the preparation and holding of the Euro 2012 include the protection of participants and infrastructure of the championship from terrorists, as well as the prevention of the flow of people involved in drug trafficking and illegal migration, who will come to Ukraine under the pretense of attending the football games, as well as members of terrorist and extremist groups disguised as football fans.

Ukraine

Kiev’s Gas Dilemma

Despite Trying Hard, Ukraine Is Running out of Credible Options to Reduce its Reliance on Russian Gas Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov

Assuming it could, Ukraine would like to turn its back on Russian gas imports and instead opt for coal for its energy requirements, as Kiev’s negotiation with Moscow over gas price reduction appeared to be heading nowhere. In the latest sign of Kiev’s increasing frustration with Moscow over a controversial 2009 gas contract, Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov said Friday that considering his country’s dire energy situation, developing coal-fired power plants is more profitable than relying on natural gas. In preparation for a possible future shift, Azarov said that Ukraine is actively seeking to reduce its consumption of expensive Russian gas this year.

“If the question is about the use of coal instead of gas when gas costs $416, as it does now, it makes more economic sense to use coal,” Azarov was quoted by the Ukrainian Independent News Agency as saying. “But if the price of gas will come down to, say, $220, then it will be inefficient to use coal instead of gas.” Azarov said that Ukraine has set itself a task to “seriously reduce the consumption of Russian gas this year,” adding that his government already assigned tasks to ministers in accordance with the cabinet strategies to reduce Kiev’s reliance on Russian gas. Intensified efforts by the government to develop the country’s coal industry over the past two years, he said, have yielded a surplus of five million tons of coal in 2011.

Kiev

The latest tension between Russia and Ukraine, which used to ship 80 percent of Russian gas to Europe before the launch of Nord Stream, escalated this week when Kiev announced it would cut imports to 27 billion cubic meters this year, down from an estimated 40 billion cubic meters in 2011. Ukraine has been trying unsuccessfully for over a year to persuade Moscow to review the 2009 deal, which it says sets an exorbitant price for gas. Ukraine pays $416 per thousand cubic meters this quarter, and sees a fairer price at $250. Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom has protested the move, pointing out that the pre-specified 2012 minimum volume was 52 billion cubic meters according to a “take or pay” provision in its gas agreement with Kiev. Kiev cannot unilaterally change the terms of the contract or reduce the amount of gas it contracted to purchase in 2012 to the annual 27 billion cubic meters, Gazprom Spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Thursday.

Naftogaz Ukrainy

In the past, the Ukraine has made frantic – but largely futile – efforts to challenge its 2009 contracts with Russia, including threats of court action. In what appears to be a desperate effort to prove that the contracts were concluded in violation of Ukrainian law, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was prosecuted and jailed for signing the gas contracts. At the same time, the government presented a plan to restructure the state-owned gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy and render it ineffectual as an economic entity, in hopes that it might lead to a change in the contracts with Gazprom. Lacking few other natural resources, Kiev is also considering a fast-track development of the country’s estimated 1.5 trillion cubic meters of shale gas reserves. The country awarded its first shale gas exploration contract to the Anglo-Dutch giant Shell in September, in a deal worth up to $800 million, Ukraine’s state gas exploration company said.

Kiev’s

But a lack of tangible results from such multi-pronged efforts has only added to Kiev’s bouquet of worries. Kiev’s has been complaining loudly and publicly in recent months that it has been paying some of the highest prices for gas in Europe because of the unfavorable terms of the contract. Gas prices remain a heavy burden on the country’s budget despite signing the “fleet for gas” agreement to extend the lease on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in April 2010, officials said. Russia has hinted that Ukraine could get a better deal on its gas imports if it cedes control of the country’s Soviet-era gas pipeline network, which is used to move Russian gas to Europe. Kiev has rebuffed the offer, saying that it amounts to Russia’s de facto takeover of Ukraine’s entire gas sector. Despite repeated requests from Moscow, Kiev’s has also refused to join the Kremlin-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, saying that it will scuttle its ongoing negotiations on an Association Agreement with the European Union.

While tension appears to be running high between the two countries, however, the Ukrainian prime minister gave assurances on Friday that there will not be a repeat of the gas war that disrupted energy supplies to Europe in 2008 and 2009. “Why should we fight a war with our Russian brothers?” Interfax quoted Azarov as asking. “We are not even talking about it, and never will.” Azarov said Kiev’s would continue to negotiate with Moscow no matter what and will prove to its powerful neighbor that “life goes on beyond contract papers.”

Davos Forum

Today is the first day of the World Economic Davos Forum, which is supposed to unite politicians and businessmen in a discussion of the burning issues. This year the topic “Great transformation: forming new models” is at the heart of discussion. A good topic was chosen for the Ukrainian part of the forum: the prospects of our state in the context of European and global development. However, Europe for a year has several times expressed its vision of these prospects, keeping its eye on the trials of Lutsenko and Tymoshenko. But it is not in a hurry to show high principles concerning another cause celebre – Kuchma’s case, which is directly connected with the Gongadze case.

And the Davos Forum is said to be the world-level event, which not only helps to produce an impression, but also to forget about the old problems; for some people it is simply a Swiss town, a place for discussing the ways of resolving the world tasks, whereas for others it is a good chance to whitewash their reputation.

It is known that the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation is one of the co-organizers of the Davos Forum Ukrainian Lunch. Every year it gathers European, Russian, and Ukrainian politicians and businessmen, who discuss the ways of Ukraine’s future development. At the beginning of the conference the floor will be given to Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, who is going to speak about his own vision of Ukraine’s future, later the ex-president of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski will join the discussion (like Viktor Pinchuk, the donor of the Clinton Foundation, Kwasniewski is a friend of the Kuchma family).

Chelsea Clinton

On Tuesday, on the eve of the launch of the Davos Forum, Chelsea Clinton, member of the board of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s Global Initiative, came to Kyiv at the invitation of the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation. By the way, Pinchuk’s donations to this Foundation, according to New York Times, make the largest part of all the incomings. Is not this too generous for a citizen of a developing country?

In Kyiv Chelsea Clinton met with the students of Kyiv’s higher educational establishments. However, the first half an hour went under the slogan “The moderator Sviatoslav Vakarchuk and Chelsea on the importance of philanthropy.” In his commentary to Radio Liberty political scientist Oleksii Tolkachov expressed his surprise that Chelsea Clinton shared her views on philanthropy with Ukrainian students. He thinks she should have shared them with Ukrainian oligarchs.

The guest also answered with pleasure the student’s questions about her favorite rock bands, the role of good education in life and about the people whose examples she follows. The students also inquired about the fears of the daughter of the famous American politicians, the recommendations concerning her life priorities and vision of the future of the United States.

However, when the conversation came to the Ukrainian affairs, it became clear that Chelsea Clinton is very far from them.

“I am here to hear you and answer your questions,” Clinton said, giving no answer to the question whether she is aware of any problems of the Ukrainian youth.

Americans

Naturally, it is always interesting to hear a person who has a different life experience and world outlook. But what important things did the Clinton Foundation member say? She said that the United States is trying today to answer the number-one question: what kind of country is the US supposed to be today – a more active player on the international arena, or one isolated from the rest of the world? How can the Americans solve the problem of an all-time high unemployment rate and class, rather than race, inequality? Chelsea emphasized on the example of the Americans that people should teach one another to be responsible for their choice and active in the life of their own country. Even persuading your friends to come and vote is an important step, for the participation of 51 percent in the elections is quite an achievement, Clinton said. Asked by The Day about what ratio there should be between intellect and values in the light of the fact that Ukraine, which has a lot of clever young people but is still seen from abroad through the prism of the Gongadze case or the Kolchuh radar scandal, Clinton said she was not supposed to tell the Ukrainians about the balance of intellect and creativity: those who want some changes in the world will just up and change it.

“Changes do not occur as fast as we would like them to, but they are bound to happen, and we should not underestimate the role of technologies in this process,” Clinton said. “There will soon be the first anniversary of the Tahrir demonstrations in Egypt. We may not be able to see many things correctly from afar, for example, why not all people rallied together, but it is just the instance, when intellect is reinforced with values – this seems inspiring to me.”

It is interesting what kind of people Clinton expected to see in the students who came to meet her. For her opinion of U2 as her favorite group and of Nelson Mandela, whose life inspires her, is, naturally, “of great social value,” but it is still a pity that her answers failed to show at least elementary knowledge of and interest in the country she was visiting. And while many Americans have not heard – for some well-known reasons – of the Gongadze case and the Kolchuha scandal, we still expected something more from a person who arrived at the invitation of the art patron whose family is directly linked with this.

UEFA

STR Global tells World Property Channel that in light of the upcoming UEFA European Football Championship taking place in Poland and the Ukraine this summer, local hotel inventory is expected to increase by 9.4 percent in Wroclaw, Poland, 8.7 percent in Kiev, Ukraine, and 1.7 percent in Warsaw, Poland, compared to the previous year.

No additional branded supply is expected in Gdańsk and Poznań, both in Poland, before the start of the tournament. The daily room inventory of the hotel cities will stay below that of the past host cities such as Amsterdam, Vienna, Brussels, Belgium, and Lisbon, Portugal.

“The limited supply increase, the media coverage of the event and the hospitality experienced by the teams and the supporters should benefit the host cities”, commented Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global. “This is highlighted in our latest forecast for Warsaw, predicting occupancy to reach 80.1 percent in June 2012 compared to 77.7 percent the previous year, and average daily rate to reach PLN 350.41″.

Ukrainian

The declaration made on Jan. 13 by the Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov that Kiev would not engage in a “gas war” with Russia gave the hope their year-long dispute would end, but there are few signs the situation will change.

The latest round of Ukraine-Russia gas talks between Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko and Alexei Miller, Chief Executive of Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom, in Moscow on Jan. 17 brought no results. The two neighbors continued to squabble over the price Ukraine will pay for Russian gas and the amount of gas imports to Ukraine.

RISING TENSION

It has become a New Year’s tradition that Ukraine and Russia negotiate a gas price for the next 12 months at the beginning of each year.

It seemed in 2011 the two sides had nothing to argue about. After all, Kiev and Moscow have gas contacts for 2009-2019 gas supplies signed by Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogas in 2009. But still, the conflict is escalating.

On Jan. 11, Boyko said Ukraine planned to reduce its gas imports from Russia to 27 billion cubic meters in 2012 from the contracted volume of 52 billion cubic meters.

Two days later, head of the Ukraine president’s administration, Serhiy Liovochkin, said Ukraine had suffered losses worth somewhere between 12 billion and 15 billion U.S. dollars from gas deals with Russia in the past three years.

The Ukrainian premier echoed the official claim on Jan. 15, saying Kiev planned to amend the “shackling” energy deal with Moscow and tried to lower the gas price, which amounted to 416 dollars per 1000 cubic meters in the first quarter of 2012.

Moscow did not leave gas issue unanswered. Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said a lower price and lower imports were impossible under the current supply deal.

RUSSIA’S MAIN AIM

The Kremlin said Kiev had no right to demand new concessions from Gazprom without offering anything in return, because money was involved and there were no “brothers and neighbors” in such cases.

However, Ukrainian analysts said Moscow was not concerned about money, but about resuming its dominance in the former Soviet space and gaining more influence over Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

It seems Moscow has a strong desire to take total control of Ukraine’s gas transport system. Russian officials have repeated that selling a stake in the Ukrainian pipeline network could be a condition for lowering prices.

Moreover, Russia exhibited its terms in this issue. It didn’t want a triangular consortium with the European Union and Ukraine, but insisted on a 50-50 basis between the two countries, which means equal management of the system.

In addition, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is expected to return to the presidency next year, insisted on Ukraine entering the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

WAYS OUT OF THE SITUATION

It is widely believed that such a scenario is unacceptable for Kiev. Ukrainian experts said selling a stake of Ukraine’s gas transport system or joining the Customs Union would undermine the popularity of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party ahead of October parliamentary elections.

Most likely, Ukrainian authorities would reject such a change. They would probably look for other ways to reduce gas prices.

On one hand, Ukraine may appeal to the Stockholm arbitration court to try to amend the 2009 gas agreement.

On the other hand, it can completely ruin relations between the two neighbors, and also negatively affect the rating of the current government.

Another way out for Ukraine is to offer the Kremlin a gas consortium after the Russia’s presidential election in March. Such a deal would not bring Russia’s leadership political losses, and at the same time would be economically beneficial to both parties.

In addition, Ukraine has a fallback. The government has repeatedly stated that Kiev might find alternatives to Russian gas.

Ukraine planned to use coal at its thermal power plants for heating instead of gas to save about six billion cubic meters of gas per year. But how realistic these plans are remains to be seen.

Tyhypko

Ukraine’s desperate attempts to win resumption of a $15.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund ended in fiasco Thursday with the lender twice refusing to do so over the past three days.

The government has been seeking to win the loan without hiking natural gas prices for households – the key demand from the IMF – amid fears the unpopular measure would hurt the ruling party at upcoming elections in October.

The developments left the government struggling to find a financial solution that would compensate national energy company Naftogaz Ukrayiny for selling expensive imported gas domestically below market.

But the talks highlight a major effort to win the IMF loan despite previous assurances from senior officials that the government has enough money in its coffers this year.

Ukraine, which is facing mounting foreign debt payments this year, is due to pay $3.8 billion to the IMF only in 2012, of which $600 million will have to be paid as soon as in February.

A government team, led by First Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Kliuyev, left for Washington late Monday, but had quietly returned to Kiev Wednesday without making any progress.

This failure forced Prime Minister Mykola Azarov to change his plans on Thursday and to fly to Zurich for a brief meeting with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The meeting, however, has also failed to produce any concrete results.

“The parties have agreed to continue the dialog,” the Cabinet of Minister reported in a statement after the Azarov-Lagarde meeting.

Serhiy Tyhypko, deputy prime minister and a member of the team for the talks in Washington, said Thursday the issue of gas prices remains to be the most problematic that requires a solution.

“Hiking gas prices is practically the only issue that we have to do in line with our memorandum,” Tyhypko said at a press conference. “But I can say clearly that there will be no gas price hike in Ukraine.”

The failure in the talks in Washington is also a personal setback for the recently appointed Finance Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy.

His appointment last week to replace Fedir Yaroshenko was aimed at reinvigorating the talks with the IMF. Before his trip to Washington, Khoroshkovskiy said: “The task is to resume the program, to get the loan.”

Khoroshkovskiy and other government officials said that hiking gas prices by 50% would only increase arrears in the energy sector.

But perhaps even more important argument is that the unpopular measure may eliminate the ruling Regions Party at upcoming parliamentary elections in October.

“Our clear position is that we won’t do this until after the election,” Tyhypko said. “There will be no price hike, there must be no utility price hike this year.” 

Ukrainian dancer

The dance world is spinning after one of ballet’s brightest stars walked away from Britain’s prestigious Royal Ballet without explanation, days before he was due to take the lead in a new production.

Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin announced this week that he is quitting immediately. He had been due to open as Oberon in “The Dream” next week.

The 21-year-old studied dance in Kiev before attending the Royal Ballet School in London from the age of 13.

He has thrilled audiences since he became the company’s youngest-ever male principal dancer at the age of 19. His poise, muscularity and gravity-defying leaps have brought comparisons with the young Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Royal Ballet director Monica Mason said Polunin’s resignation had “come as a huge shock.”

“Sergei is a wonderful Ukrainian dancer and I have enjoyed watching him tremendously, both on stage and in the studio, over the past few years,” she said in a statement. “I wish him every success in the future.”

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AP
In this photo made available by London’s… View Full Caption

Ballet websites swirled with speculation about the motive for Polunin’s sudden departure. Some suggested the dancer — who co-owns a London tattoo parlor — might have grown frustrated with the strict discipline of the ballet life.

In an interview last year, he referred to the pressure he felt to succeed.

“I would have liked to behave badly, to play football. I loved sport,” he told The Guardian. “But all my family were working for me to succeed. My mother had moved to Kiev to be with me. There was no chance of me failing.”

Others speculated Polunin might have been poached by a rival company. His Twitter biography on Thursday read “principal dancer of ?”

Emilia Spitz, of dance blog TheBalletBag, said that if Polunin had been offered a more tempting contract, no company had yet come forward to admit it.

Spitz said Polunin might be symptomatic of a growing trend for dancers to seek more control over their careers than allowed by the hierarchies of established classical companies.

“These young people are evolving in that they are really taking control of their careers,” she said. “It’s a case of ballet contracts becoming a bit more like football contracts.”

And Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House — home of the Royal Ballet — appeared to leave the door open to a return.

“I think we’ve just got to support him — he deserves that — through his thinking at the moment about his life,” Hall told Channel 4 News. “The pressures on him are of course enormous.”

Attempts to reach Polunin at the tattoo parlor were unsuccessful.

Airlines

Vietnam: a magnet for Eastern European airliners

A new wave of Eastern European airliners offering services connecting Vietnam to their countries has emerged, said Do Xuan Quang, CEO of airline dealer Vector Aviation.

After their recovery from a period of economic ills, many airline carriers in Eastern Europe are seeking new markets, and Vietnam appeared to be their potential choice in both Asian and Southeast Asian markets, Quang told newswire Saigon Times Online.
In the last few years, Vietnam has attracted many Eastern European airliners, including the Polish national airline, which is offering services on the Warsaw-Hanoi route, and the Ukraine’s carrier AeroSvit with its Kiev-Ho Chi Minh City flights, he said.
“Not to mention the Russian airliners Aeroflot and Transaero, which are exploiting the routes connecting Vietnam and Russia, as well as other countries from the former Soviet Union,” he added.

Quang said air carriers from Kazakhstan, Hungary, Uzbekistan and Czech Republic are also eying flights to Vietnam.

Last year Czech Airlines planned to open services to Vietnam, and the plan was expected to be implemented this year, he said.

Quang said one of the potential opportunities for Eastern European airliners to effectively exploit the Vietnamese market is the increasing number of Eastern European passengers wishing to visit Vietnam.

“Most of the airliners can target tourists who want to come to Vietnam to enjoy a warm and tropical climate when the freezing winter hits Eastern Europe,” Quang said.

He added that the carriers also have in mind passengers from Northern European countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland, who tend to use services offered by Eastern European airliners because of their lower costs compared to their Western European counterparts.

“For instance, a seat on AeroSvit costs slightly over US$720, while the Western European carriers charge around $1,200 for a ticket on the same route,” Quang explained.

“Such a large difference will drive passengers to the airliners whose airfares are lower but service quality is guaranteed.”

Quang added that another target group of potential passengers is the overseas Vietnamese who are working in Hungary, Ukraine, Russia and the eastern part of Germany.

“There are around 12,000 Vietnamese living and working in Ukraine, and the figure in Russia is even larger,” Quang said.

However, he admitted that despite such high potentials, only a few direct flights exist at the moment between Vietnam and Eastern European countries, with visa clearance the main obstacle.

“It is not easy to apply for a visa to enter Russia, and is much harder for one to visit Ukraine,” he said.

European leagues

There’s only one. Or two.

Fans of the Gunners familiar with only the Premier League, or the top four leagues in England, might know a few teams from other countries. Mostly, this has been due to the Champions League being televised so widely. Crazed football fans may watch more games, including from the top European leagues in Spain, Italy, Germany and France but, for the most part, naming three teams in Denmark might prove to be a challenge. Unless you’re a Dane.
Big global names such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Inter, Juventus, Milan and, thank to a certain David Beckham, the Los Angeles Galaxy, are global brands. Arsenal, of course, is a world force, with fans on every continent. No doubt there’s a village in the middle of a remote rainforest with little contact with the outside world with a child wearing an ‘Henry 14’ shirt.

Arsenal Kyiv

But, if you delve deep into the football clubs around the world, Arsenal fans might be surprised to learn that there are rabid Arsenal supporters that don’t care about the Gunners. Doesn’t make sense? Well, if you’re from Ukraine, you could be a supporter of Arsenal Kyiv.
Based in the Ukrainian capital, this Arsenal, nicknamed the Cannoneers, plays in blue and red stripes not that dissimilar to those worn by Barcelona. This version of Arsenal Kyiv (sometimes also called Kiev) was founded in 2001; ten years after the nation gained its independence. There was a previous incarnation of the club, which played in the Soviet league system while Ukraine was part of the USSR, but the club was renamed in 1963, only to become a different team. It’s now firmly Arsenal once more.
There are certainly similarities with England. Arsenal is based in the capital, and has a strong rivalry with another club in the city, Dinamo Kyiv. Dinamo has certainly had the better of recent results and trophies. However, unthinkable in London, the two Kyiv teams share a ground, with only a 16,000-plus capacity.
London’s Gunners have a long history and a trophy cabinet filled with silverware. The Kyiv version, however, has far less to brag about. A UEFA Cup run that included a win over Red Star Belgrade, and two domestic cup final appearances are the only standout stats the club can brag about. They haven’t even had any players of major international renown in their ranks over the decades. One of the difficulties, which clubs around the world face, is competing with richer neighbours. Dinamo, and current powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk, certainly do better than Arsenal. Currently, Arsenal sits in sixth in the table, a whopping 22 points behind Dinamo after only 20 games. Looking on the bright side, at least they aren’t bottom of the table, an honour that belongs to another team from the capital, Obolon Kiev.
A lower level Ukrainian team, FC Arsenal Kharkiv, does at least play in red and white, albeit hoops, not dissimilar to the Doncaster Rovers strip.
And in the third division in Montenegro, there’s an FK Arsenal Tivat, who play in blue and have a stadium that holds 1,000 people.
Another third division, this time in the Czech Republic, includes Arsenal Ceská Lípa, with a little longer history (founded in 1927, but never in the top flight) and a decent website with photos, video and a forum, albeit without a club shop. It’s a pity, as the shirts aren’t bad and would be quite collectible.

European Arsenals

Coincidentally, another Arsenal was formed in 1927, with the same familiar red and white shirts; the small Serbian team, FK Arsenal Kragujevac.
While there may not be similarities in most of the eastern European Arsenals, the connection between Arsenal FC and Berekum Arsenal FC are a little more obvious. The club’s badge, and red and white strip are most definitely ‘inspired’ by the English giants. Playing in Berekum, Ghana, the club was formed in 1978, and plays at the Berekum Sports Stadium, with a capacity of 5,000. While the pitch might not match the pristine surface at the Emirates, chances are very few Berekum games are postponed due to a frozen pitch, and not too many players need to wear gloves. Except the goalie.
Berekum have gone through the lower leagues to make it to the Ghanaian Premier League, however, at the time of writing, they sit in 15th position, which would be fine in a 20-team league, but isn’t so impressive in a 16-team division.
Another African Arsenal resides in the Lesotho capital of Maseru. At least this team has a bit of history, in that Arsenal FC has won the Lesotho Premier League, in 1989, 1991 and, most recently, in 1993. And in the Mauritius Second Division, there’s an Arsenal Wanderers. That wouldn’t be a bad venue to see a game, especially in January.
In Central America, there is an Arsenal FC in Roatán, playing in the Liga Nacional de Ascenso de Honduras. It’s the equivalent of the Championship in England, only with four regional sub-divisions. The top team in the Ascenso goes up and Arsenal has been close recently, but still resides in the second flight.
Brazil, which hosts the next World Cup, even has a couple of Arsenal clubs, with Arsenal Futebol Clube being inspired by the famous Gunners, right down to the logo and shirt colour.

Arsenal

Another very famous Arsenal is Arsenal de Sarandí, based in Avellaneda, a part of Greater Buenos Aires. The club is currently in the top flight of Argentine football and, while they’ve not won the league, they did win the South American championship in 2007, a feat that occurred 50 years after the club was formed. The shirts are a very attractive light blue with a red diagonal stripe, and would make a great addition to a football shirt collection, especially as an Arsenal talking point. However, the club’s website, in Spanish, has a shop, with no products in it. Yet.
If you know your World Cup history, and are old enough, you may remember the 1986 World Cup Final, when Jorge Burruchaga, a former Arsenal player and, more recently coach, scored the winning goal in Argentina’s 3-2 win over West Germany. Remember two Germanys?
Of course, many countries have lower leagues that duplicate famous teams from England and Europe, so there are plenty of other, lower league Arsenal teams on every continent.
So, if you’re looking for a different team to follow in another country, following another Arsenal wouldn’t be a bad idea, although finding results might prove a bit of an issue, and finding a club shirt might be a stretch, cool though it would look in the stands at the Emirates.

If you ask where to watch the world cup online broadcast live for football.