Conflict, politics, laws, corruption and more corruption

Compilation of media reports related to the Ukraine, Russia and beyond.

On May 26, NATO started an announced Arctic military exercise. Russian Federation answered with a ‘massive surprise inspection’ of its air force ‘in order to check combat readiness’. “The BBC’s Caroline Wyatt, in Moscow, says the current drills are in preparation for a larger exercise known as Center-2015 in the next few months.”(BBC, May 26)

On May 27, Reuters reports Russian troops gather close to the south eastern border of Ukraine. Rostov serves as a staging post for troops on their way to Ukraine, according to a source. “They [Russian service men] signed papers about non-disclosure of information and about acting voluntarily.” Number plates of vehicles and insignia from soldiers are said to be removed. Troops and hardware are massing around 50 km from the border. According to Reuters, the amount of military hardware at Kuzminsky tripled since March. Additionally, a dirt road was recently prepared, leading from Kuzminsky to the government controlled part of Lugansk. (Reuters, May 27)

Russian media stress the defensive character of preparations around Rostov. Quoting FSB border control that 100 km of ditches were dug and 40 km of fences were set up along the Russian-Ukrainian border. The actions are explained as an attempt to stabilize the Rostov and to decrease smuggling of arms. (RG, May 25)

Two new Russian laws reflect the complexity of Russian affairs in Ukraine. The first declares Russian troop deaths “during special operartions” in peacetime as a state secret. (TASS, BBC, May 28) –  The second is a ‘law on bloggers’ that gives media status for politicians and bloggers with more than 3’000 visitors a day. Such a status implicates governmental regulation. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ ignore requests of the Russian judiciary for the disclosure of user data (such as data of online times of an account). (Izvestia, May 27)

On May 28, Ukraine’s President Poroshenko is quoted to introduce martial law in case of ceasefire violations in Donbas. He also repeated the significance of a strong orientation towards NATO and expressed his concerns about those who are questioning this view. (Korrespondent, May 28) On the same day he signed a “law that gives the government the right to halt scheduled repayments on foreign debts if necessary”. (Yahoo/Reuters, May 29)

And Russia’s President Putin points out the geopolitical dimension of recent arrests in of Fifa officials in Switzerland:

“It’s another clear attempt by the USA to spread its jurisdiction to other states. And I have no doubt – it’s a clear attempt not to allow Mr Blatter to be re-elected as president of Fifa, which is a great violation of the operating principles of international organisations. The US prosecutor, as our media report, has already said that those Fifa officials have committed a crime. As if the prosecutor didn’t know about the principle of the presumption of innocence.” (Guardian, May 28)

Back to Ukraine, where Serhiy Chebotar (former deputy Minister of Internal Affairs) filed a claim against a TV channel and MP Serhiy Kaplin in oder to protect his ‘honor, dignity, and busines reputation’. Kaplin mentioned on a live broadcast that Chebotar is connected to corruption, also that “during the search in Chebotar’s apartment, considerable assets in gold and documents confirming the corruption accusations were found.” (IMI , May 25) – Two weeks ago, Chebotar (was) resigned from office. Chebotar says to be victim of a media campaign, but he obviously seems to have serious difficulties explaining some real estate issues.