Країни-члени ОБСЄ закликають Росію нести відповідальність за режим припинення вогню на Донбасі.

«Країни-члени закликають Росію до відповідальності за дотримання стійкого перемир’я та виконання мінських домовленостей», – мовиться у повідомленні постійного представництва України при ОБСЄ, опублікованому за результатами екстреного засідання, скликаного через загострення ситуації в Авдіївці Донецької області.

Постійна рада ОБСЄ 31 жовтня провела екстрене засідання. Перед цим голова Спеціальної моніторингової місії ОБСЄ в Україні Ертугул Апакан закликав до негайного припинення боїв у районі Авдіївки – Ясинуватої – Донецького аеропорту на сході України. 

Вранці 29 січня розпочалися запеклі бої неподалік Авдіївки. Сторони конфлікту звинуватили одна одну у спричиненні цих боїв. Українська сторона заявила, що бойовики розпочали обстрілювати і саме місто. Унаслідок обстрілів Авдіївки від неділі, за останніми даними української сторони, загинули 6 військових, десятки поранені.

Сепаратисти, у свою чергу, заявляють, що двоє бойовиків загинули, шестеро отримали поранення сьогодні в результаті обстрілу з боку українських силовиків, одна місцева жителька загинула.

Noting populist and nationalist forces making gains in democratic states last year, Freedom House has declared 2016 the 11th consecutive year of a decline in global freedom.

Of the 195 countries assessed in the Freedom House report, less than half were rated Free.  Forty-nine countries were rated “not free”, and of those, Syria, Eritrea, North Korea, Uzbekistan, South Sudan, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, and Saudi Arabia had the “worst” aggregate scores for political rights and civil liberties.

The United States was listed as one of the countries rated “free,” but also was said to have faced setbacks in “political rights, civil liberties, or both” in the “Freedom in the World 2017” report released Tuesday.

Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Tunisia were also among the countries listed as free, but flagged by the report as facing “counter-democratic” transitions.  In particular, the report said countries in Central Europe, which saw “remarkable” transitions to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s “will be substantially reversed by elected populist leaders”.

Though rated “partly free”, Turkey saw the largest one-year decline in its score, having been victim of multiple terrorist attacks in 2016 as well as mass arrests and detentions following a military coup over the summer.

Turkey’s score, like those of many other democracies, was negatively affected by its involvement in the Syrian conflict during the past year.  The United States and a number of European countries saw what the report called a “weakening of democratic standards” due to the large influx of Syrian refugees.

The report also states the Syrian conflict and other extremism in the Middle East has taken attention away from “worsening domestic repression” in China and Russia.

The only country listed in the report with a positive trend toward being more free was Colombia, whose government made a historic deal with the FARC rebels earlier this year, ending a decades-long conflict in the South American country.

Russians have largely greeted Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House with high hopes for a new era of improved relations with the United States. And judging by this week’s reaction, the first telephone call between Presidents Trump and Putin has done nothing to diminish those expectations.


In his influential weekly news program Vesti Nedeli, anchor Dmitry Kiselev praised the 45-minute conversation as the “most awaited phone call on Earth.”


“Donald Trump is fulfilling his election promises and getting rid of Obama’s pathetic legacy,” Kiselev said during the broadcast.


Kremlin officials have been more circumspect, if only slightly.  


On Monday, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the conversation as “constructive” with both men showing a desire to resolve “complex issues through dialogue.”


Peskov said such cooperation was not possible under the Obama administration, with whom the Kremlin sparred bitterly over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, military support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and allegations of interference in the U.S. presidential election, among other issues.


Indeed, following the phone call, statements from both the Kremlin and White House stressed a desire to find common ground.


Sanctions relief?


The Kremlin said the leaders expressed an interest in closer cooperation in fighting Islamic State terrorists, as well as dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran nuclear deal, and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. There was no indication that the presidents discussed the charges that Russia tried to interfere with the U.S. election.


Nor do the two appear to have discussed Western sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, although the tone of the call fed into speculation that they could soon be eased.  


Key European allies – in line with the former Obama administration – have proposed partially lifting the sanctions only if Moscow fulfills its obligations under the Minsk Peace Accords aimed at ending the fighting in east Ukraine between Kyiv government forces and pro-Russian separatists.  


President Trump has suggested he could lift sanctions in exchange for a reduction in Russia’s nuclear arsenal or a commitment to fight the Islamic State.


In his press call Monday, Kremlin spokesman Peskov insisted sanctions were not raised during the Trump-Putin call.


A shift in tone


But many observers pointed hopefully to a Kremlin statement that the two leaders expressed a desire improve “economic cooperation.”


“To fully develop economic ties, it’s necessary to create the right climate and legal conditions,” said Russian lawmaker Dmitri Novikov in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.  “That requires canceling sanctions.”


Kremlin allies also contrasted the apparently warm rapport between Trump and Putin to the Russian president’s frosty relationships with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francoise Hollande.

Indeed, some argued that the budding Trump-Putin friendship had the potential to shake traditional U.S. allies to the core.


“Kyiv, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Warsaw, Oslo, Stockholm, NATO – they’re all horrified by the results of the Putin-Trump call,” crowed Alexey Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker and former head of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs committee in a post to Twitter.

Hacking charges


Yet hovering over any budding detente are the accusations the Kremlin meddled in the U.S. election with the aim of helping Trump win the White House.


So, too, are unsubstantiated claims the Kremlin possesses compromising sexual material on Trump from a visit to Moscow in 2013.


A U.S. investigation also is continuing into whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign team and Russian officials during the election campaign.


Moscow has repeatedly denied the hacking charges, and angrily dismissed related allegations as attempts to sabotage a new era in U.S.-Russian relations.


Still, the hacking scandal gained new intrigue with recent Russian news reports that two intelligence officers from the FSB’s cybersecurity unit were among six Russian nationals arrested and charged with treason.

According to sources quoted by the Interfax news agency, those arrested are suspected of providing information to the CIA – raising questions of its possible connections to the U.S. investigation into Russian hacking.

Kremlin officials have yet to comment.


Who is playing whom?


Warranted or not, the hacking scandal has made the Trump team sensitive to charges it is beholden to Moscow.  


Some Russia analysts point to the White House’s decision to release photos of Trump on the phone with Putin surrounded by Vice President Mike Pence and other advisors as a sign of the administration’s concerns over the optics of Russian rapprochement.


But Russian political analyst Feodor Krashenninkov argues the “Trump as Putin’s puppet” theory is overblown.  


In an interview with VOA, Krashenninkov noted that Trump’s actions are hemmed in by Republican lawmakers who favor a hardline approach to Russia.


“Putin – by contrast – can give away anything,” says Krashenninkov, who noted – in a twist – that it is Putin who would be more likely to embrace the title of Trump’s bestseller, The Art of the Deal.


Krashenninkov argued that Trump, in his introductory conversation with the Russian leader, borrowed from another book of American tycoon lore:  Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Wherever U.S.-Russian relations head next, some in Moscow were reveling in the domestic controversy arising during Trump’s first week in office – including mass protests against the administration’s decision to temporarily ban admission to the United States of all refugees and most citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries.


Maxim Shevchenko, a pro-Kremlin journalist, urged his government to enjoy – if not stoke – the chaos.

“Trump is a symbol of the deep, insurmountable and not easily defined confrontation of the societal, political, and economic split in America… therefore, greetings Trump!’  Shevchenko wrote in a post to his Facebook account.


“The more chaos, anger, and confrontation they have the better.”

Колишнього голову банку «Михайлівський» Ігоря Дорошенка арештували з можливістю внесення застави, повідомляє речник генерального прокурора України Лариса Сарган.

«Дніпровський райсуд змінив запобіжний захід банкіру Ігорю Дорошенку з домашнього арешту на тримання під вартою з можливістю внесення застави у160 мільйонів гривень», – повідомила Сарган увечері 31 січня у Twitter.

Напередодні прокуратура міста Києва повідомила, що за її клопотанням суд надав дозвіл на затримання Ігоря Дорошенка.

27 січня Дорошенко не з’явився до слідчого прокуратури для оголошення нової підозри – окрім розкрадання майна, йому додатково інкримінується доведення банку до банкрутства.

5 грудня 2016 року прокуратура Києва подала апеляційну скаргу на рішення суду, яким колишнього голову правління банку «Михайлівський» Ігоря Дорошенка звільнили під домашній арешт.

Шевченківський районний суд Києва 3 грудня змінив запобіжний захід Дорошенкові з тримання під вартою на домашній арешт.

12 серпня силовики затримали голову правління банку «Михайлівський». Його підозрюють у розкраданні 870 мільйонів гривень банківських коштів та доведення банку до неплатоспроможності. 13 серпня Шевченківський райсуд Києва арештував екс-голову правління банку «Михайлівський» на два місяці з можливістю внесення застави у розмірі 137,8 мільйона гривень.

23 травня Національний банк України своєю постановою визнав банк «Михайлівський» неплатоспроможним і запровадив у ньому тимчасову адміністрацію. Однак від того часу, за словами вкладників банку, вони не можуть отримати своїх депозитів чи коштів на карткових рахунках, не можуть  використовувати їх і в безготівкових розрахунках. 

A new documentary on legendary investor Warren Buffett sheds light on just how his spending habits may have made him wealthy.

In the documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which airs on HBO, the billionaire said he never spends more than $3.17 for breakfast most days.

“I tell my wife, as I shave in the morning, I say, ‘Either $2.61, $2.95 or $3.17.’ And she puts that amount in the little cup by me here [in the car],” he explains in HBO’s documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which first aired Monday.

The 86-year-old, who is the third richest man in the world, usually gets his breakfasts at McDonald’s on his way to work.

“When I’m not feeling quite so prosperous, I might go with the $2.61, which is two sausage patties, and then I put them together and pour myself a Coke,” Buffett said in the documentary. “$3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, but the market’s down this morning, so I’ll pass up the $3.17 and go with the $2.95.”

The investing guru has long had a reputation for frugality, as he still lives in a 5-bedroom house in Omaha, Nebraska, which he bought for $31,000 in 1958.

U.N. agencies are reacting with dismay and alarm to the decision by the Trump Administration to temporarily suspend U.S. refugee resettlement programs.  The agencies report the impact of this decision is having an unsettling impact upon the refugees.  

The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 800 refugees set to make America their new home this week have been barred from traveling to the United States.  The UNHCR estimates 20,000 more vulnerable refugees will be denied entry to the United States during the 120-day freeze of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The suspension is part of an Executive Order signed by President Trump, as he said, to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country and to establish new “extreme vetting” measures of immigrants.

UNHCR spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci tells VOA a lengthy and rigorous screening process of refugees, which can take up to two years to complete already is in place.

“We do a first interview and screening and then the countries, so all 30 countries that do resettlement, it is not just the United States doing resettlement, does another part of the screening,” Maestracci said. “They make the final decision as to who will be resettled in their country.  And, there is an entire part of the process, the screening process that is in their hands … It is fair to say that refugees being resettled to the United States are among the most vetted people coming into that country.”   

International Organization for Migration spokesman Leonard Doyle says every country has a right to look to its own security and determine its own borders.  But he tells VOA IOM is very concerned about the refugees who have gone through the screening process and security checks and then been left in limbo.

“And, after perhaps four years of waiting, waiting patiently to be resettled, they have sold their goods, they have given away their settlement in a refugee camp where they may have been for two decades,” Doyle said. “They have lost their livelihood, given away their job, handed back their ration card only to be told at the last minute and rather cruelly to go back to the refugee camp.”

Doyle says IOM enormously respects the U.S. role as a beacon of hope for refugees and migrants for decades.  He adds while every country has a right to patrol its own borders, IOM believes in bridges rather than walls.  

Чеська гуманітарна організація «Людина у скруті» підготувала план допомоги жителям Авдіївки попри труднощі щодо комунікації з непідконтрольною територією Україні.

Чеські волонтери підготували план надання допомоги жителям прифронтової лінії.

Як розповів Радіо Свобода керівник гуманітарних місій «Людини у скруті» Томаш Коціан, у разі евакуації жителів області для них на складах уже приготовлений не тільки зимовий одяг, але й теплі одіяла і все, що потребують люди під час евакуації.

Коли б до евакуації не дійшло, тоді «у нас буде можливість на місцях допомогти людям їжею, будівельними матеріалами для швидкого ремонту вікон чи будинків», розповідає Томаш Коціан.

Працівники організації донедавна надавали допомогу також жителям Донбасу по обидва боки лінії розмежування. Однак наприкінці листопада 2016 року представники угруповання «ДНР» без попереджень і пояснень відмовили «Людині у скруті» в акредитації.

«Людина у скруті» намагається надавати допомогу всім громадянам, хто її потребує, попри те, з якого боку фронтової лінії вони перебувають. «Тобто, якщо б нам знову дали акредитацію, ми б продовжили надавати гуманітарну допомогу», – наголосив Коціан.

Зараз чеські гуманітарні працівники можуть надавати допомогу лише громадянам контрольованих Україною районів Донбасу.

More than 1,000 foreign service officers and civil service personnel of the U.S. State Department have now signed a dissent document about the president’s recent order on refugees’ travel restrictions, sources told VOA on Tuesday.​

The number of signatures, if it does total some 1,000, is “unprecedented” and about 20 times the number of dissenters for last year’s memo from diplomats sharply criticizing the Obama administration’s Syria policy, said former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford.

The huge numbers for the immigration memo and its early leaking “are clear indicators of the widespread concern within the department over this specific policy step and unease over the broad direction of foreign policy,” said Laura Kennedy, former deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

“These are extraordinary times,” she added.

The Dissent Channel memo, which warns that the administration’s move “will not achieve its aims and will likely be counterproductive,” has yet to be formally submitted, according to the State Department, which says it cannot comment on its substance, how many have signed it or the ranks of the signatories.

Those at the State Department who oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration order “should either get with the program or they can go,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday. “This is about the safety of America.”

Former diplomats bristled at what is being perceived as a implicit threat against the foreign service community.

“The Dissent Channel is an entirely appropriate means of expressing opposition to the top leadership of the Department of State,” Ford told VOA. “The Trump people shouldn’t take it so personally.”

“I was appalled by (Spicer’s) comment,” said Kennedy, also a former ambassador to Turkmenistan, told VOA. “It either implied a complete misunderstanding of the dissent channel or the legal protections there are, or it’s intended to send a signal that dissent, whether private or public, will not be tolerated.”

“The time-honored tradition of respectful dissent at State is supported by the very American and constitutional values that this cable honors and that the executive order tramples,” Yale University Law School professor Harold Hongju Koh, a former assistant secretary of state and State Department legal adviser, told VOA.

President Trump last Friday signed an executive order prohibiting entry to refugees and people from seven Muslim majority countries. The order includes a 120-day suspension of refugee admissions and a 90-day entry ban for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Spicer added from the podium Wednesday the order is “about the safety of Americans” and the steps the president ordered are “common sense.”

According to a draft seen by VOA, the dissent memo expresses grave concerns that the travel ban will not achieve its goal “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.” It also warns that the action will “immediately sour relations” with key allies in the fight against terrorism, given many of the nations whose citizens are now restricted from traveling to U.S. soil.

The memo suggests alternatives, including improving visa and immigration screening.

The Dissent Channel was established in 1971, amid disputes about Vietnam War policies, to allow U.S. diplomats to speak freely about foreign policy matters.

Typically four to five Dissent Channel messages are received each year, according to the State Department. Last year’s Syria Dissent Channel memo had 51 signatures, according to diplomats.

When State Department or U.S. Agency for International Development employees believe their voices are not heard by supervisors, they may use the Dissent Channel. At the State Department, the policy planning staff is supposed to review it, circulate it to authorized people and reply in substance to the dissenters within 60 days.

Those utilizing the Dissent Channel are protected from reprisals, disciplinary action or unauthorized disclosure of its use, according to the government’s Foreign Affairs Manual.

Ford, who was a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, predicted that if the White House tries to retaliate “they’ll end up with lawsuits.” But Ford added that after expressing their opinion through the proper channels,​foreign service officers are obligated to implement administration policy.

“It is their job to implement what the president and his team decide,” explained Ford. ” If they can’t implement it then, frankly, they should think whether they should be in a government job.”

Ford, currently a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, acknowledged the challenge of U.S. diplomats in Baghdad having to explain “why this policy is a good policy” to their counterparts who fought alongside U.S. forces against terrorist elements.

“I can’t imagine anything more difficult,” Ford said. Without proper guidance from Washington “they have to wing it which is even harder.”

Officials on Monday also revealed that the State Department is receiving multiple cables from its embassies about foreign anger concerning the restrictions on travel to the U.S. from the predominately Muslim countries in the executive order.

“As is standard, the State Department remains in contact with its embassies around the world on foreign policy issues,” a department official, speaking on condition of not being named, told VOA when asked about the cable. “We will not comment on internal communications.”

The president’s nominee to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. A vote on Tillerson, a recently retired oil and gas company executive, is expected this week.