Monthly Archives : September 2019

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Ukraine’s Leader: We Can’t Be Ordered to Investigate Biden

30
Sep,2019

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Ukraine’s president says his country can’t be pressured into opening an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son.And both Ukraine and rival Russia are pushing back at the White House for releasing a transcript of a private phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and another world leader.President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is trying to contain damage at home and abroad after the world learned last week that Trump pushed him to “look into” Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a troubled Ukrainian gas company.FILE – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, and his son Hunter point to some faces in the crowd as they walk down Pennsylvania Avenue following the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama in Washington, Jan. 20, 2009.”We cannot be ordered to do anything. We are an independent country,” Zelenskiy told reporters Monday during a visit to a Ukrainian military base, when asked about Trump’s request.”We are open, we are ready to investigate, but it has nothing to do with me. Our independent law enforcement agencies are ready to investigate any violations of the law,” he said. He didn’t elaborate on what could trigger an eventual probe.The Ukrainian president reiterated his criticism of the White House decision to release a rough transcript of the July phone call in which Trump discussed the Bidens with Zelenskiy. The call sparked a Congressional impeachment inquiry now dominating the U.S. political landscape.Test for ZelenskiyZelenskiy said Ukraine would probably not release its own transcript of the call, because “there are certain nuances and things that I think would be wrong to publish.”The Kremlin — accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor — appears to agree.Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Monday that transcripts of calls between him and Trump can only be published by mutual accord. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “diplomatic practice doesn’t envisage such publications.”The political furor over the Trump-Zelenskiy call has come as a severe test for Zelenskiy, a comedian who promised to uproot Ukraine’s endemic corruption and end fighting with Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east. The transcript portrays Zelenskiy as flattering Trump and trying to stay in his good graces.A top Ukrainian presidential adviser, Andriy Yermak, insisted that Ukraine wants to maintain good relations with both Democrats and Republicans, and doesn’t want to get tangled up in U.S. political tensions.”What is happening there is internal U.S. political doings, and we will not take part in this in any way,” he said on Ukraine’s 1+1 television Sunday night.He noted that Ukraine wants to retain good relations with both sides because it needs U.S. support — no matter who is in charge of the White House or Congress.”We see the U.S. as our friend, our strategic partner,” he said.Meeting with GiulianiYermak met with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani earlier this year, as Giuliani pressed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.FILE – President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporter’s on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2018.Zelenskiy sought to play down the situation involving Biden and his son’s activities in Ukraine, calling it just one of many similar cases he discusses with foreign leaders.The head of Ukraine’s Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office said last week that Ukrainian authorities have not yet seen information that would signal possible wrongdoing by Biden or his son or a reason to question them.Meanwhile, Zelenskiy sought Monday to show he is taking control of his domestic political problems by firing his national security chief, Oleksandr Danilyuk. The move came after infighting among camps in Ukraine’s power structures.

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Уряд очікує отримати 2-2,5 млрд гривень від легалізації грального бізнесу

30
Sep,2019

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Кабінет міністрів України очікує отримати 2-2,5 мільярда гривень від легалізації грального бізнесу, повідомив прем’єр-міністр Олексій Гончарук.

«Ми розраховуємо, що близько 2-2,5 млрд гривень за рахунок легалізації бізнесу у бюджет отримаємо, але, звичайно, треба рахувати», – сказав Гончарук.

29 вересня Кабінет міністрів ухвалив проєкт закону про легалізацію грального бізнесу в Україні. Згідно з повідомленням пресслужби уряду, документ передбачає, що азартні ігри будуть проводитися винятково на території готелів і на гральному обладнанні з використанням програмного забезпечення, яке відповідає міжнародним стандартам.

В Україні діяльність закладів із азартними іграми заборонена від 2009 року.

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На міжбанку зросли котирування долара

30
Sep,2019

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На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку 30 вересня дещо зросли котирування долара. За даними сайту «Мінфін», станом на 12:00 торги відбувалися на рівні 24 гривні 17,5–20,5 копійки за долар.

Орієнтуючись на показники міжбанку, Національний банк України встановив довідкове значення курсу на рівні 24 гривні 16 копійок за долар, це на 8 копійок більше за офіційний курс на 30 вересня.

Офіційний курс на понеділок є рекордним за понад 44 місяці – від січня 2016 року.

На український валютний ринок нині прийшли значні ресурси, які іноземці вводять для купівлі облігацій внутрішньої державної позики. За підрахунками експертів, за 9 місяців нерезиденти викупили таких облігацій на суму понад 100 мільярдів гривень, тобто завели на український ринок близько 4 мільярдів доларів. На курс також впливає позитивна кон’юнктура щодо товарів українського експорту.

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Small Piece of Melting Italian Glacier Accelerates

30
Sep,2019

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An expert monitoring a fast-moving glacier on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif says a small section has picked up speed and could break off in the coming days. 
Fabrizio Troilo, a glaciologist with the Safe Mountain Foundation, said Monday that the piece — measuring some 27,000 cubic meters (953,390 cubic feet) — is moving at 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) a day.
 
That is about twice as fast as a massive 250,000-cubic-meter (8,827,683-cubic feet) chunk that also risks breaking off from the Planpincieux glacier.
 
Troilo said the smaller piece “could collapse in the next days or week,” but that such collapses are annual events and would have no impact on the rest of the valley.
 
Experts say the increased melting rate has been linked to climate change.  

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Storm in Central Europe Kills 2, Fallen Trees Disrupt Travel

30
Sep,2019

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High winds swept across parts of central Europe on Monday, leaving two people dead, disrupting transport and causing power outages for thousands of households.
 
Slovak police said a 14-year-old girl was killed by a fallen tree in Nitra, east of Bratislava, and an unspecified number of her fellow students were injured, one of them seriously.
 
In eastern Germany, police said a 41-year-old driver was killed when a tree fell on his car near the town of Wittenberg.
 
In the Czech Republic, some 30,000 households were without electricity, while fallen trees disrupted roads and train travel.
 
Long-distance lines from Berlin to Hamburg and Hannover, and to Stralsund in the country’s northeastern corner, were among those closed on Monday morning and then reopened. In southern Germany, a fallen tree forced the closure of the Nuremberg-Augsburg line.
 
Near Wolfsburg, between Hannover and Berlin, a high-speed train ran into a tree that had fallen on the tracks. The driver was slightly injured.
 
Strong winds were expected in northern and eastern Germany through Monday afternoon. Berlin’s two zoos were closed for the day because of a risk of falling branches, and animals brought indoors.
 
Near Dortmund in western Germany, the fire service used a boat and makeshift walkways to rescue sheep from a field flooded by heavy rain. News agency dpa reported that the field was submerged under as much as 2 meters (6.5 feet) of water, and that some animals died in the flooding. Around 200 were rescued.  

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НБУ встановив новий рекордний курс гривні

30
Sep,2019

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Національний банк України встановив на 30 вересня курс 24 гривні 8 копійок за одиницю американської валюти, це на 11 копійок менше за поточний курс і є новим рекордом за понад 44 місяці – від січня 2016 року.

Наступний орієнтир – 23 гривні 95 копійок, таким офіційний курс був 15 січня 2016 року.

На торгах міжбанківського валютного ринку 27 вересня регулятор викупив близько 20 мільйонів доларів, цього вистачило, що не допустити зміцнення гривні до менш як 24 гривень за долар.

На український валютний ринок нині прийшли значні ресурси, які іноземці вводять для купівлі облігацій внутрішньої державної позики. За підрахунками експертів, за 9 місяців нерезиденти викупили таких облігацій на суму понад 100 мільярдів гривень, тобто завели на український ринок близько 4 мільярдів доларів. На курс також впливає позитивна кон’юнктура щодо товарів українського експорту.

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Mass Protest in Moscow Demands Release of Political Prisoners

30
Sep,2019

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Another mass demonstration took place Sunday in Moscow with protesters demanding the release of people who were jailed for participating in peaceful anti-government protests since July. Unlike most of the previous protests the Sunday rally was sanctioned by the city authorities. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports Russia’s opposition says its weekly rallies have gained some victories.

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Thousands of Anti-Kremlin Protesters Turn Out, Demanding End of Political Repression

30
Sep,2019

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The drizzle had stopped by the time anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny bounded to the stage to cheers in a packed downtown Moscow square, where at least 20,000 anti-government protesters assembled to demand an end to prosecutions tied to earlier mass protests.The overcast sky and unseasonably cold September weather didn’t deter the tens of thousands of protesters to assemble to voice their opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin and to call for the release of 13 anti-government activists still being held in jail in Moscow. Four others have been freed but remain under investigation.It was the first mass event Navalny has appeared since he was released last month from jail where he had been held for 30 days for organizing unauthorized public gatherings.Anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny just before bounded to protest stage to tell protesters they should have confidence in their power, Moscow, Sept. 29, 2019. (J. Dettmer/VOA)The chants of “Let Them Go” and “Putin is a Thief” were heard throughout an afternoon during which the police maintained a low presence for a protest that had had been granted a rare legal permit by Moscow city authorities. More than 1,000 people were detained in July and August during the largest demonstrations since Vladimir Putin’s re-election to the presidency in 2012. Those protests had not been sanctioned and at their height they saw as many as 60,000 turn out to brave harsh police crackdowns.In 2012, the anti-Putin protests, sparked by allegations of electoral fraud and frustration over Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin for a third presidential term, eventually fizzled out, with anti-government activists worn down by an uncompromising Kremlin. Protesters Sunday expressed some worry the same fate will befall the new wave of demonstrations.But 36-year-old Lisa, a freelancer working in the education sector, said she isn’t allowing that to deter her from joining the protests now.“There is no way of staying at home, no way of observing and not taking any action,” she told VOA. “It is too much. I have not been to any gatherings for years. But now I can’t stand just staying at home. I prefer not to think about 2102 but live in the here and now,” she added.Police estimated the crowd at 20,000 — organizers put the figure higher at 25,000.Anti-Kremlin protesters demand release of more than a dozen arrested for taking part in demonstrations in July and August against rigged Moscow city council elections, Sept. 29, 2019. (J. Dettmer/VOA)Political activist Navalny, widely seen as the key opposition figure in a protest movement that has brought together groups spread across the spectrum, from Communists and liberals to Russian nationalists and others of no fixed ideology, says now is not like 2012, when a Kremlin crackdown exhausted anti-government protesters.Speaking to VOA and other reporters, he said: “The most important thing we saw today is that protests supporting political prisoners are not niche anymore. You remember such meetings in 2012-2014. They were small. And there were just a few of them. Now we see the defense of political prisoners is the main political subject. More and more people are getting involved, many of whom were never interested in politics before. It is very important and we’re at the beginning. What we see now is totally different, in terms of the size and duration. Previous protests rapidly faded. Now new people are getting involved.”To the crowd, who chanted along with him, Navalny said: “We should be confident of our power.” He asked the crowd why they thought the Kremlin had released some activists. “Because they have a conscience? Because they are ashamed? Because they have children? No, because they’re afraid that their popularity ratings were dropping,” he answered.Earlier, Ilya Azar, a journalist and activist, told the flag and placard-waving crowd: “Looking back to the protest in 2011-2012 there was no such solidarity of civil society as we can see now. This is fantastic.” She said the strength of the movement had intimidated the authorities into releasing jailed activists.Alexey Minyaylo was freed last week from jail after rioting charges against him were dropped, Moscow, Sept. 29, 2019. (J. Dettmer/VOA)One of those freed, Alexey Minyaylo, who released from custody after prosecutors dropped rioting charges against him, told VOA he believed civil society has matured since 2012-2014. “In 2012 there were very high expectations but we were not ready for a real fight and when we were hit, we just stood back and did nothing. Now we can take hits and still act.”Tatiana Lazareva, an activist and onetime TV host who lost her job after participating in anti-Putin protests, says the issues now and in 2012 are the same — honest elections and honest trials.  But “people are starting to realize that they’re living worse. The important thing is that people are starting to understand there’s no sense just to blame Putin, they have to do something themselves.”Lazareva acknowledges there’s a disconnect between Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the protest movements are stronger, and the countryside. She argues the protest movement has to do more to reach out. “Big cities attract brave people who come to achieve something. People here are different. People who afraid of something or afraid to overcome something stay in their hometowns,’ she says.  

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Weakened, But Powerful Hurricane Lorenzo Heads for Azores

30
Sep,2019

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Hurricane Lorenzo lost some force Sunday, weakening to a Category 4 storm after briefly escalating to Category 5 late Saturday.The National Hurricane Center said the powerful storm is expected to pass over or near the Azores, the group of Portuguese islands about 900 miles west of Portugal on Tuesday.”Steady weakening is expected over the next few days, but Lorenzo is still expected to be a potent hurricane in a couple of days,” the center said.The forecasters warned of heavy rains and life-threatening flash flooding on the islands.”Lorenzo is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 6 inches over much of the western Azores and 1 to 2 inches over the central Azores on Tuesday and Wednesday. This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash flooding in the western Azores,” the center said.The NHC said Lorenzo has a wide wind field that could bring strong surf conditions to the beaches of the eastern United States and Canada, Western Europe and many Caribbean islands over the next few days.Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Narda began pounding Mexico’s Pacific Coast Sunday.Narda was expected to dump up to 25 centimeters of rainfall along the Mexican coast from Oaxaca to Nayarit, including resort towns of Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta. 

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Міністр інфраструктури розповів, що хочуть зробити з «Укрпоштою»

30
Sep,2019

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Міністр інфраструктури Владислав Криклій розповів в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода, яким бачить розвиток «Укрпошти».

За його словами, попри те, що «Укрпошту» виключили з переліку об’єктів, які не можна приватизувати, держава не планує віддавати стратегічний об’єкт у приватні руки.

«Що стосується приватизації, то я не впевнений, що ми будемо обирати модель Бразилії – там вони повністю національного оператора віддали під приватизацію. Тому що це питання все ж таки стратегічної інфраструктури. Не зовсім правильно і безпечно віддавати її у приватні руки, наша філософія – стратегічні об’єкти мають залишатися у держави», – сказав Криклій.

Наразі, вважає він, найімовірнішим є варіант залучення стратегічного партнера, який буде інвестувати у проект.

«Ми тут скоріше будемо говорити про стратегічного інвестора, партнера. Бажано було б, щоб це був хтось з великих e-commerce проектів світових – я не знаю, наприклад, Amazon, Alibaba – от хто буде готовий заходити. Тоді ми зможемо отримати великий імпульс і велику кількість інвестицій у логістичні центри, щоб покращувати ці процеси вже спільно з великими e-commerce-проектами, з інтернет-гігантами працювати і давати кращу якість послуг», – розповів Криклій.

За його словами, міністерство веде перемови, утім, говорити про результати наразі зарано.

«Але те, що ми будемо до цього готуватися, то це факт. Тому що це найкраще, що може статися з «Укрпоштою», – якщо ми знайдемо стратегічного партнера, який не просто хоче зайти з метою спекуляції, тобто зайшов, купив, потім дорожче продав. Це нас не цікавить. Нас цікавить стратегічний інвестор, який почне вкладати», – сказав він.

Також міністр інфраструктури сподівається, що Верховна Рада ухвалить законопроект, який дозволить відділенням «Укрпошти» «займатися фінансовими послугами».

«Укрпошта» розширить перелік своїх можливостей і пропозицій фінансових, які буде надавати. Це будуть і мобільні банківські відділення, і, як ви кажете, магазинчик, і, в принципі, зв’язок з зовнішнім світом», – сказав Криклій.

Також він додав, що «Укрпошта» буде «рухатися у напрямку запуску мобільних пунктів, перевезень».

«Укрпошта» входить до сфери управління Міністерства інфраструктури України. Підприємство надає понад 50 різновидів послуг через 12 тисяч відділень по всій Україні. Штат компанії налічує близько 76 тисяч співробітників.

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UK’s Johnson Denies any Wrongdoing in Ties With US Tech Exec

29
Sep,2019

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied wrongdoing Sunday over his links to an American businesswoman who allegedly received money and favorable treatment because of their friendship during his time as mayor of London.Asked during a BBC interview about his ties to tech entrepreneur and model Jennifer Arcuri, Johnson sought to suggest that political motivations were behind the decision Friday by the Greater London Authority to refer a conduct matter to a police watchdog agency.The matter arose from a Sunday Times report saying Arcuri was given 126,000 pounds in public money and privileged access to trade missions to the United States, Israel and Asia that Johnson led as mayor, even though her fledgling business had not yet met eligibility requirements for such trips.“Everything was done in accordance with the code … and everything was done with full propriety,” Johnson said Sunday. When pressed again by BBC journalist Andrew Marr, Johnson added: “There was no interest to declare.”The scandal worsened Sunday as Johnson’s Conservative Party was opening its annual party conference in Manchester following a tumultuous week for a leader who has only been in the job since July.In just the last few days, the U.K. Supreme Court declared Johnson’s attempt to suspend Parliament illegal and he cut short a trip to the United States, racing home to face the House of Commons, where lawmakers greeted him with cries of “Resign!” He then lost a vote on a normally routine matter — a request to adjourn for a week so that Conservatives could attend their conference.Complicating things further, questions were raised about the 55-year-old Johnson’s links to Arcuri, now 34, who set up a cyber firm in East London after moving to the capital seven years ago.Yet even as the British leader visited North Manchester General Hospital on Sunday to talk about his government’s plans to build 40 hospitals, his efforts failed to change the subject.“Let’s be absolutely clear, I am very, very proud of everything that we did and certainly everything that I did as mayor of London,” he said, adding that the current London mayor, Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party, “could possibly spend more time investing in police officers than he is investing in press officers and peddling this kind of stuff.”The independent office, which oversees police complaints in England, was asked to consider if there were grounds to investigate Johnson for misconduct in public office. The authority said Friday it had a “statutory duty” to record the matter because Johnson served as police commissioner during his 2008-2016 tenure as London’s mayor.The probe is the latest sign of animosity that has consumed British politics since the country narrowly voted in 2016 to leave the European Union. Three years later, Britain and its politicians remain bitterly divided over how, or even whether, to leave the 28-nation bloc.Johnson took power two months ago with a “do-or-die” promise that Britain will leave the EU on the scheduled date of Oct. 31 — even if there’s no divorce deal outlining Britain’s commercial relations with the other 27 EU nations. His foes in Parliament are determined to avoid a no-deal exit, which economists say would plunge Britain into recession.In unusually heated debate Wednesday, Johnson referred to an opposition law ordering a Brexit delay as the “Surrender Act” and said postponing the country’s departure would “betray” the people. He also brushed off concerns that his forceful language might endanger legislators as “humbug.”Opponents accused him of fomenting hatred in the country with his populist, people-versus-politicians rhetoric.As tempers smoldered, Johnson rejected the notion that he himself had played a role in whipping up tensions.“I think I’ve been a model of restraint,” Johnson said Sunday. “But I think everybody should calm down.”

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Schiff: Intelligence Committee to Hear from ‘Whistleblower’

29
Sep,2019

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The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says it has reached an agreement to hear from a whistleblower whose whose complaint that has sparked an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.”We are taking all the precautions we can to … allow that testimony to go forward in a way that protects the whistleblower’s identity,” Adam Schiff told the ABC news show “This Week.” With the president issuing threats … you can imagine the security concerns here.”Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Donald Trump face reporters during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.The whistleblower alleges that Trump, in a July 25 phone call, sought help from the new president of Ukraine in digging up incriminating information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter that would hurt Biden’s prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination and challenging Trump in 2020.President Donald Trump, who has released a rough transcript of the phone call, has insisted he did nothing wrong and has continued to defend himself via Twitter.  Has he called the impeachment inquiry launched by Democrats in the House of Representatives “the greatest scam in the history of American politics.”FILE – Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller waits to go on the air in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, Feb. 12, 2017.His adviser, Stephen Miller, told “Fox News Sunday” that the whistleblower’s behavior was “close to a spy” and said Trump himself was the true whistleblower for revealing alleged corruption by the Bidens.As vice president, Biden and other Western leaders pressured Ukraine to get rid of the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because he was seen as not tough enough on corruption.Trump has claimed Biden was seeking to protect his son but that allegation has been debunked.Screenshot of whistleblower complaintThe whistleblower’s complaint also said the White House tried to “lock down” the information to prevent its public disclosure. Efforts to hide the information allegedly included the removal of the transcript of the call from the computer system that is typically used for such records of calls with foreign leaders and loading it into a separate electronic system that is used only for classified information that is of an “especially sensitive nature.”White House officials have stressed that the whistleblower didn’t have first hand information to make the allegations.
 
The complaint noted that a White House official described that as an abuse of the secure system because there was nothing “remotely sensitive” on the phone call from a national security perspective.
 
On Thursday, before leaving New York where he attended the U.N. General Assembly, Trump told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the U.N. that he wants to know who provided information to the whistleblower. He said that whomever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently,” according to The New York Times newspaper. 

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«Укрзалізницю» розділять на три компанії – міністр інфраструктури

29
Sep,2019

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Міністр інфраструктури Владислав Криклій заявив, що «Укрзалізницю» планують розділити на три компанії. Про це він розповів в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода.

За його словами, уряд спільно з Верховною Радою розробляє відповідний законопроєкт.

«Один оператор буде відповідати за доступ до інфраструктури. Тобто за всю мережу, за електрифікацію, займатися капітальними вкладеннями у підтримку, експлуатацію, розбудову мережі. Другий оператор буде займатися пасажирськими перевезеннями, які збиткові, проблемні. І там будемо ставити за «кіпіай», власне, мінімізувати ці збитки, максимально до нуля. І третій – це прибутковий, який буде генерувати прибутки для держави. Це вантажні перевезення», – розповів Криклій.

Відтак, на запитання чи будуть змінювати нинішнього очільника «Укрзалізниці» відповів, що керівник «апріорі не може залишатися один».

«Тобто «стілець» буде розділений. Тому у будь-якому разі навіть чинному керівнику все одно доведеться обирати, куди він захоче піти, тому що це будуть три різні посади», – сказав Криклій.

Читайте також: Міністр інфраструктури Владислав Криклій про Гончарука, Авакова, авіапростір із Росією та дороги

Раніше Владислав Криклій повідомляв, що Міністерство інфраструктури хоче повернути собі контроль над «Укрзалізницею». Відповідні зміни до положення про «Укрзалізницю вже готуються.

18 січня 2017 року Кабінет vіністрів України на позачерговому засіданні затвердив новий статут ПАТ «Укрзалізниця», згідно з яким, Мінінфраструктури втратило право бути органом управління компанії. У новій редакції статуту міністерство позбавили можливості підписувати договори з головами наглядової ради та контракт з головою правління «Укрзалізниці». Також Мінінфраструктури позбавили права визначати напрямки діяльності компанії, впливати на кількість акцій, затверджувати фінансовий план, річний звіт, чисельність персоналу.

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Royal Advisers: The Queen Isn’t Amused

29
Sep,2019

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Despite a personal apology from beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Buckingham Palace sources say Queen Elizabeth is deeply frustrated at being drawn into the political firestorm raging over Brexit.Johnson telephoned the queen midweek after Britain’s Supreme Court decided he had been wrong to ask her for approval to suspend Parliament for five weeks —  a historic ruling allowing the House of Commons to resume its session and frustrating government plans to take Britain out of the European Union by Johnson’s October 31 deadline.  FILE – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Boris Johnson, then newly-elected leader of the Conservative party, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London, England, July 24, 2019.“He got on to the queen as quickly as possible to say how sorry he was” by requiring her to approve what the Court later ruled an unlawful suspension of  Commons, a Downing Street official said. The 11-judge court, to the anger of Brexiters, ruled unanimously Tuesday that the suspension, known formally as a prorogation, was designed to obstruct parliamentary scrutiny of his plans to break with the EU.The court’s rebuke, and implied suggestion that Johnson lied to the queen to get her approval for the prorogation, has led to a breakdown in trust between Buckingham Palace and Downing Street, according Britain’s Sunday Times. Courtiers are frustrated with Johnson for ignoring concerns expressed privately by the queen’s advisers prior to the prorogation.“They are not impressed by what is going on — at the very highest levels of the family,” a senior civil servant told the newspaper.FILE – Pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit protesters with placards stand together at Westminster in London, Britain, Sept. 3, 2019.Brexit has bent British politics out of all recognizable shape, shattering the delicate balance of power shared between Parliament, the courts, the government and the Crown, say analysts. Johnson claimed he needed the prorogation to draft plans for a new government program in line with a normal pattern that sees an annual autumn parliamentary suspension.However, the length of the prorogation — more than double the usual duration — and its timing led Britain’s top court to agree with Johnson’s opponents that he wanted  avoid Commons scrutinizing or blocking his Brexit plans.FILE – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is surrounded by reporters as she arrives to meet with her caucus at the Capitol in Washington, after declaring she will launch a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.Johnson’s woes, though, are not only with the palace. Prompted partly by transatlantic political developments and the impeachment inquiry announced by Democratic lawmakers into U.S. President Donald Trump, opposition party leaders in Britain are exploring the possibility of of reviving an impeachment process that has not been used since 1848, one of  several options being explored to censure Johnson.The move would constitute a revival of an obsolete sanctions process not seen in Britain since the mid-19th century, when there was an unsuccessful move to impeach Lord Palmerston, then foreign minister, for having signed a secret treaty with Russia. In earlier centuries impeachment of members of the executive wasn’t an uncommon method to depose ministers the Crown refused to discard, and was first used in 1376 with the impeachment of William Latimer, a crown minister. The last successful impeachment was of Henry Dundas, the peer Viscount Melville and secretary of war for misappropriation of public money.Opposition politicians are throwing Johnson’s 2004 call for the impeachment of Prime Minister Tony Blair for misleading the country over the reasons for going to war against Iraq back at him. In a newspaper column Johnson wrote, “He treated parliament and the public with contempt, and that is why he deserves to be impeached.”Welsh nationalist MP Liz Saville Roberts, acknowledges that “the idea of impeaching a prime minister seems extraordinary — unique even. But we are in extraordinary times.”She added: “I have made clear to opposition leaders that Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to get away scot-free with breaking the law by shutting down parliament. Motions are being discussed between opposition parties and House of Commons officials that would see a salary cut, bans from parliament and other disciplinary measures, alongside a motion to explore impeachment.”Such a move would inflame the country’s already-incendiary politics, which last week saw ferocious exchanges between members of the minority Conservative government Johnson leads and opposition parties and rebel Conservatives. Johnson’s own sister, broadcaster Rachel Johnson, branded his rhetoric as “tasteless” and “reprehensible.”Johnson has repeatedly denounced legislation that would force him to delay Brexit if he can’t agree an exit deal with the EU, calling it a “surrender bill.” He dismissed as “humbug” lawmakers’ worries that “immoderate language” by government ministers is encouraging Brexiter outliers to target MPs with death threats, and risks an incident like the murder by a Brexit fanatic three years ago of Labour lawmaker, Jo Cox.FILE – Stanley, Rachel and Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson’s father, sister and brother, wait for the announcement that he has been elected leader of the Conservative party, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, July 23, 2019.“My brother is using words like ‘surrender’ and ‘capitulation’ as if the people standing in the way of the blessed will of the people, as defined by the 17.4 million votes in 2016, should be hung, drawn, quartered, tarred, and feathered,” Rachel Johnson told Sky News. “I think that is highly reprehensible.”Brexiters also say they are targeted by foul language and threats as a consequence of their opponents dubbing them racists. Government ministers accuse the Supreme Court of mounting a “constitutional coup” with its ruling and of straying deeply into political territory.Johnson is also facing rising calls for him to explain his relationship when the mayor of London with an American ex-model and entrepreneur, Jennifer Arcuri. He is accused of failing to declare a series of potential conflicts of interest over benefits provided to Arcuri’s business by London authorities, including sponsorship cash for her company and other benefits and preferential treatment, including being on three overseas trade missions led by Johnson that officials had ruled she wasn’t eligible to join.Johnson’s dealings with Arcuri, whose London apartment he visited frequently, is now the subject of four official investigations, including one by a police watchdog for misconduct in public office.   

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Conservatives Lead as Austrians Vote, but Coalition Partner Less Clear

29
Sep,2019

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Austrians began voting Sunday in snap elections, in which the conservatives look set to triumph but face difficulties finding a partner to govern after a corruption scandal brought down their last coalition with the far-right.The People’s Party (OeVP) led by 33-year-old Sebastian Kurz is predicted to win around 33 percent, up slightly from the last elections two years ago but not enough to form a majority government.Kurz has “nothing to win, but a lot to lose,” Die Presse daily warned in an editorial Saturday. “Even with a nice plus on Sunday, it is more difficult for him than in 2017,” it said, adding there was no partner that quite suited any more.With 6.4 million people eligible to vote, polling stations across the country opened at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT). They will close by 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) when first projections are expected. Far-right troublesThe parliamentary elections were brought about by the “Ibiza-gate” corruption scandal that engulfed Kurz’s far-right coalition partner in May, after 18 months in government together.Experts have predicted “whizz-kid” Kurz could once again partner up with the Freedom Party (FPOe) in a re-run of the coalition that has been touted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other nationalists as a model for all of Europe.But fresh allegations of wrongdoing have shaken the far-right over the past week.Prosecutors confirmed Thursday they were investigating Heinz-Christian Strache, who resigned as FPOe leader and vice-chancellor in May because of “Ibiza-gate,” over fraudulent party expense claims.The FPOe’s current leader, Norbert Hofer, has said he won’t tread gently if any wrongdoing is confirmed, leading to worries that supporters of Strache, who led the party for 14 years and remains influential, could stay away from the polls in protest.Kurz himself has also warned that left-leaning parties could gain more than predicted and then band together to form a coalition without him.“If there is just a little shift… then there will be a majority against us,” Kurz told supporters at a final rally in Vienna on Saturday.Climate matters Unlike in 2017, the top voter concern is not immigration but the climate.Tens of thousands of people marched Friday in Vienna and other Austrian cities to demand the government fight climate change.The protests were part of global demonstrations led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and the biggest yet in the Alpine country of 8.8 million.Against this backdrop, Austria’s Greens, who failed to get into parliament in 2017 in shock results, look set to make the biggest inroads Sunday.They are tipped to garner 13%, up 10 percentage points from two years ago.It remains to be seen if Kurz, a former law student who has enjoyed a rapid ascent through the ranks in Austrian politics, tries to woo them and another small party, the liberal NEOs, to form a partnership.Prominent concernsUnsurprisingly given the reason the election was called, corruption in public life and party financing have also been prominent themes in the campaign, as well as more bread-and-butter issues like social care.Another option for Kurz could be to form a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPOe).With a predicted historic low of around 22%, the SPOe was neck and neck with the FPOe before the troubles this week as the country’s second strongest party.Since World War II, either OeVP or SPOe have always governed, and for 44 years in total the two ruled together, but it was Kurz who ended their last partnership, leading to the 2017 polls.He has also floated the idea of ruling in a minority government. But this would potentially continue political uncertainty and could even trigger another election.Either way, negotiations between parties are expected to take months again. Ultimately, President Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Greens leader, will need to approve any government. 

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Мінінфраструктури хоче передати у концесію залізничний вокзал Києва

29
Sep,2019

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Міністерство інфраструктури спільно з «Укрзалізницею» планує передати у концесію (у приватну власність – ред.) Київський залізничний вокзал. Про це міністр інфраструктури Владислав Криклій розповів в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода.

Це допоможе оновити й осучаснити вокзал, пояснив Криклій. За його словами, однією з умов буде встановлення ескалаторів до всіх платформ. Також у міністра є ідея збудувати рухому платформу на другому поверсі.

 

«У недалекому майбутньому ми плануємо розглянути спільно з «Укрзалізницею» можливість передачі в концесію залізничного вокзалу. Тоді це буде зовсім інший проєкт. Буде певний інвестор, концесіонер, який матиме інвестиційні зобов’язання. Він змушений буде вкладати в цей вокзал. Ми тоді точно поставимо в умовах і ескалатори до всіх платформ», – розповів міністр інфраструктури.

Минулого року Київський вокзал зазнав збитків на 36 мільйонів гривень, зазначив Криклій.

«При їхньому трафіку, просто неймовірний трафік, вони за минулий рік отримали 36 мільйонів гривень збитків! І порівняти з будь-яким торговельним центром у Києві. Там неймовірні прибутки. (Причина збатків – ред.) – корупція, нераціональне використання коштів, співпраця з ФДМУ, де здаються ці орендні площі у дивний спосіб, несамостійно», – зазначив міністр.

Читайте також: Міністр інфраструктури Владислав Криклій про Гончарука, Авакова, авіапростір із Росією та дороги

За його словами, концесія торкнеться не лише залізниці, а й доріг, портів та інших сфер, де не справляється держава. А перші концесійні проєкти анонсують уже цього року, наголосив він.

«Ми у цьому році анонсуємо перші концесійні проєкти, у тому числі в портах. Ми на це будемо дивитися не тільки в контексті якоїсь сфери – залізниця, дороги, а комплексно, тому що держава не завжди кращий управлінець. І ті питання, в яких не може впоратися, не має достатніх результатів фінансових, а демонструє збитки, то, власне, точно з цим треба щось змінювати. І концесія – це, напевне, найкращий варіант», – резюмував він.

13 вересня Верховна Рада у першому читанні ухвалила закон про концесію. За словами, депутатів це дозволить залучити інвестиції в оновлення інфраструктурних проєктів.

Концесія передбачає передачу об’єктів державної власності у приватне тимчасове користування.

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