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  • Motor Sich to be Nationalized
  • NBU Independence “Vital
  • Strong Market for IPOs
  • Epicentr Agro Expands
  • Interpipe Seals Another Deal
  • Covid Comeback

 

Ukraine will nationalize aerospace company Motor Sich, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of jet aircraft engines and other aviation equipment. Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, revealed at a press briefing that the move had been “made for the national security of our country.”

About 75% of Motor Sich’s outstanding shares are in the hands of Chinese shareholders, Interfax-Ukraine reports citing a government official. Parts of the disputed block of shares are collateral for financing provided to Ukraine by the China Development Bank.

In December, Motor Sich stakeholders launched international arbitration against the government of Ukraine for $3.6 billion in compensation, arguing officials expropriated investments and violated the “intergovernmental agreement on the encouragement and mutual protection of investments between Ukraine and China” signed by Kyiv and Beijing in October 1992. The plaintiffs are represented by law firms WilmerHale, DLA Piper and Bird & Bird.


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Motor Sich is a flashpoint for the United States and China, presenting a dilemma for Ukraine which relies on Washington for military aid but is dependent on Beijing for future economic growth.

The National Bank’s independence is vital, IMF press officer Jerry Rice said in a briefing in Washington. Rice noted “preserving the integrity, independence and effectiveness of Ukrainian anti-corruption institutions” were equally important and a precondition for further cooperation with the IMF.

Ukrainian companies seeking to IPO can expect a very receptive market, according to analysts presenting at Strategy Council’s Ukrainian IPO Webinar. ”Ukraine has quite a few candidates that would be attractive to foreign investors…. Timing is quite good…I hope to see Ukrainian IPOS in the next 12-18 months” said Brian Best, Managing Director at Dragon Capital. Nova Poshta, Rozetka, and Ajax were mentioned as examples of excellent companies and potential IPO candidates.

Epicenter Agro, the agribusiness arm of Epicentr K, plans to build grain elevators in the Khmelnytsky region, the company announced. Project lead Svetlana Nikityuk said “With the advent of new modern elevator capacities, all accompanying processes will accelerate – acceptance, processing, shipment and transportation of grain to seaports from the Khmelnytsky region. The ability to sell large volumes of grown grain in combination with additional speed will provide local agricultural producers with a competitive advantage, despite the long distance to ports.”

Eipcentr Agro elevator capacity nearly doubled in 2020, to 1.5 million tons of grain storage. The company plans to increase its grain storage capacity to 2.2 million tons next year.

Interpipe has signed a long-term contract to supply self-assembled cargo wheelsets to INVEHO UFO, one of the largest car building and car repair companies in France, the company reports. “The contract is to supply 1,530 wheelsets of the ULT-25 design for a French client until September 2022.” Interpipe sells world-class products to 80 countries around the world.

The government is working on implementing 40 joint projects with international financial organizations, worth a total of EUR 5.66 billion and USD 3.09 billion, reports the Ministry of Finance. These organizations include the International the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation (NEFCO), the Reconstruction Credit Institution (KfW) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Ukravtodor, the state roadbuilding agency, has taken an important step towards toll roads, said Prime Minister Denis Shmygal during the signing of the Memorandum on the preparation of a proposal for public-private partnership on the project of construction and operation of the highway on the route Krakovets-Brody-Rivne.

The Prime Minister stressed that the use of public-private partnership mechanisms will attract investment in the development of a quality road network in Ukraine, and that investments from private investors will make roads comfortable and safer for Ukrainians in the long run.

Overall GDP in January 2021 declined up to 2.8%, compared to 2020, mostly due to lockdown measures, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture estimates.

Farmers plagued by drought and other adverse weather conditions will receive interest compensation for outstanding short and medium-term loans, said the Ministry of Economy.

Airline passenger traffic in January-February was down 68% y-o-y in 2021, reports the State Aviation Service. The decrease is largely attributed to uncertainty caused by pandemic mitigation policies. In 2020, Ukrainian airports served 8.6 million passengers, 64.4% less than in 2019.

Ukrainian low-cost carrier SkyUp launches direct flights to Istanbul from Zaporizhia and Kharkiv. “We will fly on the route Zaporizhia – Istanbul – Zaporizhia three times a week: on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The first flight will take place on May 28. On the route Kharkiv – Istanbul – Kharkiv we will also fly three times a week: on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The first flight will take place on April 29, the company announced.”

Ukraine International Airlines refunded $2.5 million to passengers in February for canceled flights due to COVID-19 measures, the company says. “UIA once again emphasizes its readiness for dialogue with its passengers and sincerely hopes for understanding. The airline is doing everything possible to process every request as soon as possible.”

Over 9,000 new coronavirus infections were confirmed on March 10, a 3x increase since early February. Despite the upsurge in infections, Ukrainians are overwhelmingly rejecting vaccination, according to the AP.

 

 

  • Central Bank Splits
  • Private Rail Wagons Dominate Freight
  • Anti-Vaxxers Predominate
  • Boryspil Passenger Traffic Still At One Third Normal

 

In the last six months, Ukraine’s Central Bank has moved from collegiality to Soviet-style centralism, Kateryna Rozhkova, First Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, said in a lengthy interview with NV. “There’s actually a rollback,” she says. Relations with the new Governor of the Central Bank have become so frosty that they only communicate in group meetings, on Zoom. She said: “If there are any questions and I comment on something, he comments on something. It does not mean that we communicate with him.”

Hours after the interview with NV was posted on Facebook, the bank’s communications department tried – unsuccessfully – to censor the interview. Rozhkova also complained that she is no longer invited to key meetings and that her opinions are not heard on PrivatBank, the bank she helped to nationalize in 2016. In response, Galyna Kalachova, the bank spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook that Rozhkova had been asked to edit the text to reflect bank policy. She wrote: “One-voice policy is important.”

Independence of the Central Bank became the critical issue with the IMF last summer after President Zelenskiy pushed out the internationally known and respected governor, Yakiv Smoliy. In the ensuing shakeup, several top officials left the bank and Rozhkova’s responsibilities were reduced. The public dispute comes one week after the bank raised prime for the first time in two year, to 6.5%. President Zelenskiy favors easy money policies.

With the $5 billion IMF lending program to Ukraine suspended, Bloomberg and Reuters moved stories on the spat. Bloomberg headlined: “Another Ukrainian Central Banker Speaks Out on Governance Fears.” Reuters headlined: “Ukraine central bank denies it tried to censor top official.”

Ukrzaliznytsia passenger service – which has been hemorrhaging money loser – lost 26% more of its income in the last year, a total of $314 million, said Volodomyr Zhmak, the state railroad’s CEO. Due to quarantine restrictions on travel, passenger traffic decreased by 56%, to 68 million passengers. Estimating that the railroad’s locomotives and cars are “90% worn out,” Zhmak praised the government for allocating $145 million this year for the renovation of rolling stock. In Ukraine, freight subsidizes passenger service.

The share of UZ cars in freight trains has dropped in half – from 47% in 2018 to 21% in 2021, Zhmak said. This year, Zhmak wants to increase the UZ portion to 40%. Private cars are more popular because they are cheaper and in better shape. Critics charge UZ drags its feet on pilot projects to allow private freight trains on UZ tracks.

Former Ukrzaliznytsia CEO Wojciech Balczun is co-owner of Aurum Polonez, an amber mining company in Klesiv, northern Rivne oblast, according to Nadra.info. A Polish rock musician, Balczun ran UZ in 2016-2017. His partners are Poland’s Amos Investments and Mykola Nemtsov, who was UZ’s acting director of security during Balczun’s time at the railroad.

Egis Ukraina, a French-financed engineering company working in Ukraine for the last three decades, has entered into a joint venture with Ertle, Ltd, an international engineering and construction holding, known locally as Derffer. The new company is called Egis Ertle Engineering. Ignace Haertlé, founder of the Ertle Group and major Derffer shareholder, notes that the company worked on the NOVARKA new safe confinement for Chornobyl, saying: “Through the years, we have delivered projects for both international and local clients including turnkey contracts, reconstructions, adaptations.”

Half of Ukrainians seeking work abroad want to go to Poland, with two thirds looking for seasonal work, according to an OLX Work survey last month of 7,700 Ukrainian job seekers. The other top two destinations are: the Czech Republic – 11%; and Germany – 9%. The primary reasons are: high salaries in the EU – 60%; and difficult financial situation at home – 39%. Construction and factory work account for half of the jobs sought.

Resistance to vaccinations against the coronavirus is high and growing in Ukraine, the AP reports in an article headlined: “Wide resistance to vaccines plagues Ukraine’s COVID-19 fight.” The portion of poll respondents who do not want to get vaccinated rose from 40% in February to 60% in March 2021, according to polls of 1,200 Ukrainians conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. In the first half of 2019, resistance to measles vaccinations lead to 5,000 cases in Kyiv and 50,000 nationwide.

The Health Ministry reported that 40% of medical workers say they do not want to be vaccinated. In the Donetsk village of Selydove, a visiting AP reporter found that only 5% of medical workers agreed to be vaccinated. Thirty kilometers away, in the frontline town of Krasnohorivka, AP reported: “Soldiers widely refused to be vaccinated.”

Ukraine and Israel are negotiating mutual recognition of “vaccination passports” for tourist travel, Yevhen Korniychuk, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel, told Ukraine 24 TV. In September, more than 4,000 Hasidic Jewish pilgrims plan to travel to Uman, Cherkasy region, for the High Holidays. Although Israel has the world’s highest vaccination rate for a major country – 44% – some Orthodox Jews refuse to be vaccinated.

UIA said that it has refunded $2.5 million to travelers last month for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.  These refunds, up to 15,000 passengers, brings to $29 million the airline has refunded to customers over the last year.

Passenger traffic at Kyiv Boryspil was down by two thirds during the first two months of this year, compared to January-February 2020, reported the Center for Transportation Studies. With UIA’s suspension of its hub system, transfer passengers were down 94%, to 20,018. Passengers on regular, scheduled flights were down 75%, to 373,726. Faring best were vacationers on charter flights, which were down by 30%, to 298,332.

A total of 1,000 people a day crossed the two checkpoints with Russia-controlled Crimea last month, reported Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service. This volume – 27,300 people – was down 88% compared to February, 2019.

 

 

  • Corona Controls Spread in Western Ukraine
  • Inflation Jumps to 7.5%
  • Google Tax Coming
  • Chinese, Polish Container Trains Growing

 

The Cabinet of Ministers banned travel on buses and trains to and from four regions listed as ‘red zones’ for coronavirus infections: Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zakarpattia and Zhytomyr. Car travel is permitted. If the number of red zone regions rises to more than half – or 13 of the 24 – Ukraine may have to reimpose a national lockdown, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov warned in an interview with strana.ua. He also said that March and April will be difficult due to the coronavirus. In Zakarpattia, the hospitalization rate is approaching one out of 1,000 inhabitants.

Stepanov berated the vaccination program he leads. In the two weeks since 500,000 vaccines arrived from India, 20,000 people have been vaccinated and 190,000 are on waiting lists. “I’m not satisfied with these numbers,” Stepanov said, criticizing his own campaign. “We were supposed to be vaccinating 10,000 people a day by the end of last week. Today, I’m interfering.”

The Health Ministry approved the use in Ukraine, Sinovac, the Chinese manufactured COVID-19 vaccine. This week, 1.9 million doses are due to arrive in Ukraine.

Inflation spiked up to 7.5% yoy in February, a jump from the 6.1% yoy increase in January, reported the State Statistics Service. Last month, the biggest factor was a 45% yoy increase in price of natural gas. The recent price hikes in world oil prices will be reflected in March inflation. Last week, the National Bank of Ukraine got a jump on the inflation rise, hiking the prime interest rate to 6.5%, from 6%. The central bank predicted that inflation will peak this summer, then recede to around 5% yoy by December 2021.

Adamant Capital wrote of the inflation spike: One of the reasons for this may be the sharp YoY increase in the money supply. Despite the fact that the NBU has already increased the key rate by 50bps to 6.5%, we expect the CPI to accelerate further in March to 8.0% YoY. Our end-of-year projection remains at 7.0%.”

The Finance Ministry managed to keep lowering rates for short term government bonds at the weekly auction, the Ministry reported on Facebook. The all-hryvnia auction yielded the equivalent of $168 million, less than half the volume of last week. According to numbers posted on the Ministry’s website, short term bonds settled at these rates: 6-month, down 17 basis points, to 9.03%; 1-year bonds, down 5 basis points, to 10.62%; 1.5 year bonds down 8 basis points, to 10.96%. Staying unchanged were: 2-year bonds at 11.8% and 3-year bonds at 12.05%.

The Rada will soon vote on the final passage of the “Google” tax – a tax that would impose a 20% VAT tax on provision of Internet services by foreign companies to residents of Ukraine. The law, which could render $100 million in annual tax payments to Ukraine, would apply to such foreign tech giants as: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Wargaming Group, Bloomberg, Alibaba, and Booking.com. “These are large foreign international companies operating and earning money in Ukraine. They receive a lot of income, but do not pay taxes in our country,“ Oleksandr Tkachenko, Culture and Information Policy Minister, wrote on Telegram. “Ukrainian technology companies pay VAT when providing electronic services to Ukrainians. But foreign companies – no.”

Services that would be taxed include: sale of images or texts, e-books; sale of audio, video, games, gambling; providing paid access to electronic resources; provision of cloud technologies for data placement; supply of software and updates to it; and, providing advertising services on the Internet.

Last week’s US entry ban on Ihor Kolomoisky and his immediate family “is the beginning,” Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for President Zelenskiy, said in an interview posted on the YouTube channel of Olesya Batsman, editor-in-chief of Gordon. Last week in an article for Atlantic Council, Mendel wrote that Zelenskiy is prepared to take on the oligarchs “everywhere from the energy and banking sectors to politics and the media.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the fourth Ukrainian-German Economic Forum, an investment and trade conference that will take place on line on Friday, March 19. According to Ukraine’s Embassy in Germany, experts will discuss: industrial development and digitalization, energy and renewable energy, food and agriculture, and logistics and infrastructure. Registration can be made here, on the site of one of the organizers, the German-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, or AHK Ukraine.

Kyiv plans to receive 5 to 7 container trains a month from China this year, which is double last year’s rate, reported Ukrzaliznytsia. The trains take about 15 days to travel from China and are unloaded at the Kiev-Lyski logistics terminal on the Left Bank.

Poland’s PCC Intermodal S.A. plans to triple container trains between Poland and Ukraine, to three per week this year, according to the company’s website. Starting last year, the company picks up and delivers containers from Mostiska, the Lviv region border city where the European and Russian gauge rails meet. Across Ukraine, container traffic grew last year by 11% yoy, to 425,000 containers.

Ukraine should invest in achieving universal fluency in English among young people, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said at a “Ukraine 30” forum on culture, media and tourism. “The English language should be used from kindergarten to the end of secondary schools,” Danilov said. “When the youth is fluent in English, that’s the precondition for the independence of this country.” In Scandinavian countries, about 60% of people under 35 are fluent in English. In the Netherlands, rate is 45%. In Germany, it is 38%.

The sale of Ukrposhta’s iconic postwar headquarters at 22 Kreschatyk Street, Kyiv will take two years, Ihor Smilyanskyi, director of the state postal system, said in a video. With Kyiv’s commercial real estate market soft, he said, now is a good time to start the obstacle course of permissions, audits, assessments leading up to a ProZorro auction. A buyer should be prepared to invest almost $4 million to upgrade the Stalin-era landmark. While the 1,000 employees will move with the headquarters, the building will retain Branch 01001, Kyiv’s Main Post Office.

 

 

  • Ukraine IT Exports Grow 20%
  • Belarusian IT Migrates South
  • Low Tax, Low Bureaucracy Regime in the Works
  • Internet Tops TV, Screen Time Soars
  • Government Works on E-Everything

 

Bucking the world recession, Ukraine’s IT exports increased by 20% yoy, to $5 billion, according to new figures from the National Bank of Ukraine. IT now accounts for 8.3% of total exports, putting it in fourth place after food, metals, and migrant labor. In 2013, IT accounted for 1.3% of Ukraine’s exports. “Ukraine has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the world’s leading IT outsourcing destinations, but many feel it is time for the country to move up the tech food chain,” Peter Dickinson wrote in an Atlantic Council blog: “Ukraine’s Booming IT Sector Defies the Coronavirus Crisis.”

Of the 100 best IT outsourcing firms in the world, 11 are based in Ukraine, according to the 2021 Global Outsourcing 100 list, a ranking compiled annually by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals. Designed to help companies find the right IT help, the list includes from Ukraine, in alphabetical order: Ciklum, Eleks, Infopulse, Innovecs, Intellias, Miratech, Nix, N-iX, Program-Ace and Sigma Software.

The share of women in Ukraine’s IT workforce has tripled over the last decade, hitting 22% today, according to a study by GlobalLogic. Women now account for one third of all testers in Ukraine and 8% of developers, according to ITC.UA’s report on the study. Overall, employment in IT is growing by 15% a year.

Almost 40 Belarusian IT companies with a total of 2,000 employees have moved to Ukraine in the last six months, Mykhailo Fedorov, Minister for Digital Transformation, said to Interfax-Ukraine. The emigration south has been prompted by police violence following Alexander Lukashenko’s assumption of Presidential powers after the election of August 2020 and 50% hike in IT income taxes, to 13%, effective Jan. 1 2021.

Ukraine is following the example of Dubai, Silicon Valley and Belarus of a decade ago by creating a low tax, low bureaucracy regime for IT companies, Fedorov told Interfax. In coming days, the Rada is to vote on “Diya City” an special regime for IT companies that will feature 5% income taxes and a modern labor code. “Action City is essentially a virtual zone, a kind of register,” Fedorov said. By legalizing operations, he said “companies can go to IPOs, become more attractive to investors.” The Ministry forecasts that Diya City will help Ukraine’s IT industry to attract $12 billion in investment by 2025, creating 450,000 new jobs.

About 10% of Ukraine’s population are now using ‘Diya 2.0,’ the updated version of the mobile digitized documents app that was launched only one year ago, Fedorov reports on his Telegram channel. With 220,000 users sharing digitized documents every day, the top three uses are: banking – Nova Pay, Monobank, and A-Bank; delivery services – Nova Poshta, Ukrposhta, and SAT; and money transfer – Miloan, Tengo, and MoneyVeo. The user breakdown is: Android – 66%; IOS – 31%; and Huawei – 2.5%.

For the first time, Internet tops TV as the primary news sources for Ukrainians, according to a new survey by Research & Branding Group. For news, the preferences are: Internet – 51%; TV – 44%; radio and print – 2%. For social media use, the rankings are: Facebook – 59%; YouTube – 43%; Instagram – 30%; Telegram – 17%; Twitter—6%; Odnoklassniki – 5%; and Vkontakte – 3%. Top messenger services are: Viber – 57%; Facebook Messenger – 37%; Telegram – 20%; WhatsApp – 9%; and Skype – 8%. Only one quarter of the population does not use a chat or messenger service.

Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile operator, reported that the most popular messenger services for its 25.9 million users are: Viber– 12 million; Facebook messenger – 11 million; Telegram – 6 million; and WhatsApp – 5 million. For social platforms, the ranking is: Facebook and YouTube – 13 million; Instagram – 10 million; Twitter – 7 million; and TikTok – 5.5 million. Average daily use is: TikTok – 88 minutes; YouTube – 54 minutes; Facebook – 44 minutes. Prime usage time is during lunch – from noon to 13:00 pm and at night, from 18:00 to 22:00.

Kyivstar has reported a 30% yoy increase in subscribers using 4G Internet last year. At the end of the year, average consumption of data traffic per subscriber was 6.1 GB in the fourth quarter — 43% higher than one year earlier.

Online advertising grew by 7% last year, countering the overall stagnation of Ukraine’s advertising market, reported the Ukrainian Internet Association.  With millions of Ukrainians housebound and turning to e-commerce, online advertising grew to $490 million last year. Nearly half of the ad spending for social media and messenger platforms. The most dynamic segment was online ‘media advertising’ which grew by 41% yoy, to $240 million. Ukraine’s overall advertising market shrank by 1% last year.

Declaring war on paper documents, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved 94 digital transformation projects to be added to the Diya app over the next three years. A sampling are: E-notary, E-property, E-urban planning, E-school, E-social protection, E-migration, E-hospital, E-permission and E-access. The programs will largely allow digital payment of fees and the transfer of digital files.

“Our goal is for Ukraine to enter the top 20 digital countries of the world,” President Zelenskiy said on presentation of the program. “To do this, we must provide every Ukrainian with high-speed Internet anywhere in our country.” Praising the first year of the Diya app, he said: “We are the first country in the world with digital passports and the fourth in Europe with a digital driver’s license. Digitization is the direct and best fight against corruption.”

The EU is providing Ukraine with €20 million to help digital development, Minister Fedorov writes on Telegram. To be implemented with the help of Estonia’s e-Governance Academy and FIIAPP, Spain’s public administration aid agency, the project will focus on developing infrastructure for electronic government; modernization of public e-services and development of services on the Diya portal and in the Diya app.

 

 

  • Grain Harvest to Rise 15%
  • US Bars Kolomoiskiy in Clean Government Move
  • Corona Spreads As Vaccinations Start Slowly
  • Dual Citizenship With EU is OK, With Russia is Not

 

Ukraine’s grain harvest is expected to rise by 15% to 75 million tons this year, returning to the bumper crop levels of 2019, Deputy Economy Minister Taras Vysotskyi wrote on Facebook. While the amount of grain planted is virtually unchanged, moisture levels in the ground lead government experts to forecast the following increases in output: corn +10% to 33 million tons; wheat +17.5 % to 29.5 million tons; and barley +18% to 9 million tons.

Oil crops are increase by 3.2% to 19 million tons. The harvest forecasts are: sunflower seeds +3% to 13.5 million tons; soy +11% to 3 million tons; and canola unchanged, at 2.6 million tons.

The State Department has barred Ihor Kolomoiskiy and his immediate family from entering the US. The bans come as the US Justice Department pursues a civil case alleging Kolomoiskiy and his business partner Hennadiy Boholyubov stole billions of dollars from PrivatBank and laundered the money by buying office buildings and steel companies in the US.

After Ukraine’s government nationalized PrivatBank in 2016, Kolomoiskiy left Ukraine for Switzerland and then for Israel, where he also holds citizenship. In 2019, Kolomoiskiy backed Zelenskiy in the Presidential campaign. After Zelenskiy won the first round, Kolomoiskiy returned to his native Dnipro. The US entry ban applies to Kolomoisky’s wife, Iryna Kolomoiska, his daughter, Angelika Kolomoiska, and his son, Israel Zvi Kolomoiskiy.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken couched the Kolomoiskiy bans in the framework of getting Ukraine back on a Western-style free market, low corruption track. The United States continues to stand with all Ukrainians whose work drives reforms forward,” Blinken said. “The Department will continue to use authorities like this to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.” Last month, Blinken singled out Zelenskiy’s ousted Prosecutor-General, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, as an “anti-corruption champion.”

In response to the Kolomoiskiy bans, Zelenskiy’s office said: “The battle with the oligarchs lies not only in the realm of criminal responsibility. It is also about creating the conditions in Ukraine, in which business can grow in a transparent and competitive environment, and large financial groups will not be able to dominate the market or influence the media and political decisions.”

Thursday, the day before the Kolomoiskiy family bans were announced, the Washington-based Atlantic Council posted an essay headlined “Zelenskiy Aims to End Ukraine’s Oligarch Era,” written by Yuliia Mendel, Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman.  “President Zelenskiy is now making good on his election promises and combating oligarch influence in ways that eluded his predecessors,” wrote Mendel. Listing a string of recent measures, including the closing of three TV stations owned by pro-Russian oligarchs, she concluded: “As events in recent weeks have shown, President Zelenskiy is prepared to challenge the power of Ukraine’s oligarchs everywhere from the energy and banking sectors to politics and the media.”

Bidding in an online auction of a Ukrspirt distillery drove the price up almost five times, to $3.6 million, reported the State Property Fund. Thursday’s sale of the Vyshiakivka, Poltava is part of a plan to sell all 41 unites of Ukrspirt. In the second half of this year, major privatization will commence, notably the sales of: Kyiv’s President Hotel, the Bolshevik enterprise, the Odesa Port Plant, and the United Mining and Chemical Company.

By the end of this decade, Ukraine’s goal is to sell all state companies not protected from privatization and to transfer to concession 90% of companies enterprise protected from privatization. These goals are stated in the National Economic Strategy of Ukraine until 2030, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The plans include corporatizing all state-owned companies, introducing supervisory boards, ensuring the financial self-sufficiency, increasing the average return on equity of state-owned enterprises to 10%, and carrying out IPOs in international financial markets of at least two state companies.

With new coronavirus cases hitting 10,000 a day last week – double the rate of one month ago – over half of Ukrainians told pollsters they would support a new lockdown. If cases keep surging, 56% would back a lockdown, and 41% would oppose, respondents told the Rating Sociological Group. Two-thirds of respondents were in favor of closing restaurants, cafes, and cinemas during a lockdown. Support for other measures were:  shutting down gyms – 58%; closing schools – 52%; closing urban mass transit – 20%.

In a separate poll, only one quarter of respondents told the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology that they would take a coronavirus vaccine. Of the 1,207 respondents, 60% said they would not take the vaccine. The poll concluded, before President Zelenskiy and Health Minister Maksym Stepanov were filmed taking the vaccine.

Under pressure for a slow start to vaccinations, Minister Stepanov told the Rada that all Ukrainian adults will be vaccinated by the end of this year. As of Thursday, only 10,000 people had been vaccinated – 10 days after the arrival of 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from India. A second load of 1.9 million Sinovac vaccines from China are expected to arrive one week from now.

Ukraine will open full-fledged embassies in Chile, Ghana and the Philippines this year, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters. In addition to these new diplomatic posts, Ukraine will open consulates general in Mumbai, India, Wroclaw, Poland and Sighetu-Marmatiei, the Romanian city across the border from Zakarpattia.

Ukraine will allow dual citizenship with EU and “friendly countries,” Foreign Minister Kuleba said when he announced plans to allow dual citizenship in Ukraine with the EU countries. One goal is to reconnect Ukraine with Ukrainians who have emigrated since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As for Russia, he said: “This is an aggressor state, there can be no talk of any dual citizenship with it.”

The original English version is from our partner UBN – Ukraine Business News. For more information and news archive, go to: www.ubn.news.

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