• Pre-Election Preview III: The campaign has now officially begun and the election will take place in just 44 days. Given the anticipated new powers that local government will wield following decentralization, these may be the most important local elections in Ukraine’s history. As a regular feature of this blog, we are covering the key races across the country.
1. Kyiv – While it is not entirely yet clear who will be his main opponent, incumbent Vitaliy Klitchko wasted no time in setting up tents around the capital in support of his re-election. Though Klitchko’s national charm is less than last year with the latest IRI poll putting him at just 25% favorable versus 63% unfavorable, Klitchko maintains around a third of the vote in Kyiv. Former Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko could mount the most serious challenge – if she enters the race. So far her activity has been limited to internal polling and speculation though. Despite her national rating remaining almost flat over the last five years with a 22% favorable versus a 68% unfavorable rating (per IRI’s August poll), Tymoshenko (like Klitchko) is more popular in the capital. Restaurateur Sergiy Gusovskiy with Samopomich is also a challenger to keep an eye on. Meanwhile former SBU Chief Valentin Nalyvaychenko’s name has been floated as a potential opponent for Klitchko. Nalyvaychenko’s entry into the race would confirm a wide rift between the two former allies who were number one and number two respectively on the UDAR party list in 2012. When Poroshenko pushed for Nalyvaychenko’s ouster as SBU Head in June, Klitchko publicly was opposed to the effort. At that key moment when the vote was in the balance, Klitchko was either ineffective in persuading UDAR Members of Parliament to vote against Nalyvaychenko’s dismissal, or perhaps his public statements were disingenuous and he made no real effort to oppose his friend’s dismissal. Since being ousted in June, Nalyvaychenko has thrown his efforts behind civil society movements. However it is clear that the former SBU Chief is biding his time until the moment comes, to possibly replace the man that fired him in the next Presidential election. Thus, a mayoral bid by Nalyvaychenko at this time is unlikely.2. Odesa – what’s clear in Odesa politics is that nothing is clear. Controversial incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov has been distancing himself from oligarch Igor Kolomoyskyi in recent weeks (at least publicly). This comes at a time when the war between Poroshenko-Saakashvili and Kolomoyskyi reaches new rhetorical heights. In recent days for example, Kolomoyskyi old repeated rumors from Georgia that Saakashvili has a drug addiction. However Trukhanov owes his 2014 election to Kolomoyskyi, who’s then Governor Igor Palytsya organized enough “muscle” on Election Night to force the resignations over 700 election commissioners, and reverse a seven point exit poll loss – into a victory two days later. The Italian police arrest of Trukhanov’s close ally Igor Markov has further frightened the incumbent into a “going along to get along” mode with Governor Saakashvili. Hence, Trukhanov’s recent public distance from Kolomoyskyi – albeit somewhat contrived. Meanwhile Trukhanov is campaigning as an “effective” mayor who can get things done and hoping that voters will overlook his ties to Markov, mafias, and vote in favor of the infamous January 16th laws to limit free speech during Euromaidan. The main problem for both Trukhanov and his main challenger, former three term Mayor Eduard Hurvits is finding a party label to use. Trukhanov is so far avoiding the Opposition Bloc to avoid the wrath of administrative resources from Saakashvili and Poroshenko. He has flirted with the presidential orchestrated “Our Land” party which promotes itself as a constructive opposition party. Now that Trukhanov is trying to show his independence from his chief financier Kolomoyskyi, the Renaissance party label is no longer an option. Hurvits for his part has yet to secure the Solidarity Party (Poroshenko) endorsement. Despite a personal friendship of 15 years, the President has been slow to back Hurvits. After the election last May, Poroshenko pressured Hurvits to drop his court case alleging election fraud, because it would call into question his own election victory in the strategic region. However Hurvits’ actions have not been reciprocated by the President. Both Poroshenko and Saakashvili have been looking for alternatives to Hurvits but none have enough public support to force a runoff against Trukhanov. Poroshenko is said to be considering appointing Hurvits as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel, but given that Hurvits declined the same offer from Yanukovych in 2010, this appears to be a non-starter. Saakashvili briefly toyed with pushing his close aide Sasha Borovik into the race, but only Hurvits registers double digit support in public opinion surveys. In the end, Hurvits may yet get the Solidarity Party nod as Vitaliy Klitchko, Yuri Lutsenko and others are strongly supporting it. However for the time being, both Hurvits and Trukhanov appear better off by running on little known party labels, rather than injecting national politics into the local race.
3. Kharkiv – Incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Kernes will face opposition from businessman and former Deputy Governor Yuri Sapronov, but is still a favorite for re-election. Former Svoboda MP Igor Shvaika further discredited himself with local voters by his involvement in the violent protests outside Parliament last week that led to the deaths of three policemen and injured more than 140 persons. Former Motherland Party Governor Igor Baluta is also considering a race. According to Kharkiv native MP Anton Herashchenko, a close advisor to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (Kernes’s arch enemy), the primary strategy for dealing with Kernes is to defeat him in the courts rather than at the ballot box. Noting that there are two current court cases against Kernes which the incumbent has been successful in delaying, Herashchenko expects a conviction by next spring. In such a case, Kernes would be removed from office and a special election would then be held. With Kernes out of the picture, an Avakov ally could presumably win the post. As for now though, the government lacks any strong candidate against the controversial Kernes. Meanwhile Kharkiv businessmen Oleksandr Feldman and Oleksandr Yaroslavsky have emerged as the chief financiers of the “Our Land” political party. It is not yet known if they will field a candidate for Mayor in Kharkiv, but they will certainly place their loyalists on the party list for election to the city councils. Yaroslavsky re-entry into politics after having some of his businesses taken away (including the Kharkiv soccer team “Metalist”) by Yanukovych crony Sergiy Kurchenko, is noteworthy since he wields important influence in the region.
4. Lviv – With Samopomich’s faction in Parliament refusing to support ‘decentralization”, it becomes increasingly likely that Poroshenko’s Solidarity Party will challenge incumbent Mayor Andriy Sadoviy. Speculation centers on two candidates, former journalist and Poroshenko Bloc MP Dmytro Dobrodomov and Poroshenko Bloc MP Oksana Yurinets. Svoboda has long considered Sadoviy to be their prime enemy, but the fallout from the decentralization protests and vote may cause them to have to stand down in this election. As of now, they have yet to decide on a candidate. Prior to the expulsion of five MP’s from the Samopomich faction, Sadoviy had the best rating of any politician in Ukraine (IRI, August 2015) with 36% of voters finding him favorable versus 41% who found him unfavorable. Locally though, Sadoviy maintains better polling numbers.
5. Zaporizhya – Incumbent Mayor Oleksandr Sin faces a likely rematch from local businessman and City Council Deputy Volodymyr Kaltsev. Sin owed his upset 2010 victory against Kaltsev – largely to the fact that he was not Kaltsev. When the Motherland Mayor quit the party immediately after the election to join the Party of Regions, the same party as Kaltsev, he burned bridges with many of his strongest supporters. The damage done by this move has not been healed and local voters consider Sin to be a “sell out”. The unpopularity of both Sin and Kaltsev has paved the way for a third candidate, Zaporizhstahl executive Volodymyr Buryak to enter the race. With the banner of the Opposition Bloc and financial backing of Rinat Akhmetov, Buryak stands a reasonable chance of making the runoff against one of the two main rivals.• Three “First Downs” for the Ukrainian Government: In tandem with the onset of the American football season, the Ukrainian government has managed to achieve three “first downs” over the last two weeks. The successful negotiations with bondholders were completed, Parliament passed decentralization and the Europeans have agreed to finance gas purchases. It should be noted however, that “first downs” are not “touchdowns”. First downs merely give the team more opportunities to score touchdowns, and temporarily pause the clock to prevent time from running out.
First and foremost, Ukraine (largely through the efforts of Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko), renegotiated its debt and struck a deal with its largest creditors forcing them to accept a 20% reduction in principal. This not only prevents Ukraine from defaulting on its obligations, but puts the country back on fiscal track. Ukraine will still have to jumpstart its economy by tackling corruption (in more than a mere cosmetic sense), as well as implement comprehensive tax reform. However the successful bondholder negotiations took Ukraine from the equivalent of its own “one yard line” to across midfield and within “field goal distance”. Ukraine will need more than just a “field goal” to win the economic game, but the potential comeback is already underway.
Second, the August 31st vote by Parliament to pass decentralization with 265 votes keeps the measure alive and gives the government time to line up the additional 35 votes for the second reading of the bill. The vote met unexpected resistance from protestors who attempted to storm the Parliament and prevent passage of the decentralization bill. This attempt to “sack” Ukraine’s quarterback failed though and now supporters have until the end of the Parliamentary session to pass the legislation a second time. Under Ukrainian law, the current session lasts until January 31, 2016 which means the Poroshenko administration has nearly five months to rally the needed votes. Since decentralization is a requirement as part of the Minsk Agreements as well as a much needed transition from a top down, totalitarian government into a more democratic government, passage of this legislation is critical for Ukraine. Again, passage of decentralization on the first reading as a mere “first down”, but without it the decentralization game would be over.
Third and in a far less noted news item, Ukraine’s Naftogaz reached an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to receive $500 million dollars in financing for gas purchases. This is important for Ukraine’s energy independence as it mostly removes the need for Russian gas purchases this winter. Through a systematic and persistent policy of gas reversal purchases from Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, Ukraine has been able to stockpile gas in its vast underground storage facilities. The stored gas purchased in the warmer months gives Ukraine the supplies it needs stay warm during the winter months. It is estimated that Ukraine needs to accumulate 19 billion cubic meters of gas in its underground storage to survive the winter season without Russian gas purchases. So far through reverse gas supplies, Ukraine has 15 billion accumulated and anticipates getting another one billion by the middle of October. The new $500 million dollar credit line from the EBRD and IFC give Ukraine the chance to buy around 2 billion meters in additional gas to bring the total reserves up to almost 18 billion cubic meters. Depending on the harshness of the winter, Ukraine estimates it will need between 15 and 19 billion cubic meters of gas. As evidence of the Russians’ irritation at Ukraine’s move toward energy independence, Gazprom has complained that European gas (i.e. reverse gas) is “$20 to $30 more expensive” than Russian gas and that it makes no sense for Ukraine to refuse its’ offer of “discounted gas at $247 per cubic meter”. The $500 million credit line from the Europeans means that Ukraine will need to pay only the same sum (raised from other sources) to cover winter gas purchases from the Russians. In addition, if the winter is mild, the amount of purchases can be reduced. Thus once again, Ukraine hasn’t scored a “touchdown” on gas, but it has achieved a “first down” to keep the game going and avoid defeat.
For a country that has experienced war, recession and revolution over the last 18 months, three “first downs” is a good way to start the autumn. These successes give Ukraine time to fix its problems and ultimately achieve some “touchdowns”.
• Decentralization Dust Up: On August 31st, Parliament passed decentralization legislation with 265 votes. While the vote was comfortably more than the 226 minimum required, it was short of the 300 votes needed when the legislation will have a second reading this autumn. Meanwhile, the vote caused violent protests outside Parliament as protestors attempted to storm the building. These protests led to three deaths of police officers and more than 140 persons injured. Supporters of Svoboda Party, Ukrop and the Radical Party led the protests which resulted in allegations that the Ukraine’s oligarchs were financing the demonstrations (Firtash via the Radical Party and Kolomoyskyi via Svoboda and Ukrop). The theory is that Poroshenko’s war on the oligarchs may have gone too far, and now the oligarchs are seeking to settle the score and possibly oust the President. In addition, with the economy still weak and the war seeming to wind down, Poroshenko’s rating (per the August IRI poll) has fallen to just 27% favorable versus 63% unfavorable. This represents a 20% swing from favorable to unfavorable since the beginning of the year.
Despite the protests and the decline in his rating, the decentralization vote was a victory for Poroshenko. Admittedly he must find 35 more votes between now and the end of January, to pass the legislation in order that it becomes law. However it should be noted that 28 members of his own faction and 12 members of their coalition partner People’s Front, did not vote for the bill on the first reading. Thus the President needs only to persuade 35 of 40 “friendly” votes to pass decentralization this year. Decentralization was supported by the Opposition Bloc who provided 38 (of 43) key votes in favor of the measure. Without their support, decentralization would have received a paltry 227 votes – just one more than the minimum required. The support from the Opposition Bloc was not surprising though as decentralization would empower their local officeholders and candidates in the eastern and southern regions. This empowerment would not be exclusive to the east and south, but it would finally fulfill their predecessor Party of Regions promise to give power to the regions. In addition to the Opposition Bloc, half of Kolomoyskyi’s Renaissance faction supported the measure (11 of 22 members) despite the fact that he is believed to have financed the protestors outside the Parliament the same day. Some would say that perhaps Kolomoyskyi forgot to finance his own faction members regarding the important vote…Finally, the decentralization measure won the support of 14 of 18 members of People’s Will faction which was headed until recently by oligarch Ihor Yeremeyev. Yeremeyev’s death last month as a result of a horse riding accident has led to speculation that the faction will fall apart, but at least for now his business partner and fellow MP Stepan Ivakhiv has managed to hold things together and deliver the votes for the President.
Decentralization was opposed by the Radical Party and their leader Oleg Lyashko. Lyashko denounced the decentralization plan as capitulation to the Kremlin since it contained a provision that any special status for the Donbass would need to be decided later by separate legislation. Following the vote, the Radical Party withdrew from the Parliamentary majority coalition reducing its size from 302 votes down to 281. It should be noted that even with 281 votes, this remains the largest Parliamentary majority since 2000 when Yushchenko became Premier after Kuchma’s re-election in 1999. In conjunction with the Radical Party withdrawal from the majority, Deputy Premier Minister for Infrastructure Valeriy Voschevsky tendered his resignation as well. The departure from the ruling coalition by the Radical Party was never a question of “if”, but rather a question of “when”. Some majority MP’s like Serhiy Leshchenko from the Poroshenko Bloc, have been advocating the expulsion of the Radical Party from the coalition for months. Given Lyashko’s political ambitions and the inevitable difficulties in maintaining a coalition during times of war and recession, the Radical Party’s departure from the coalition only formalizes what has been percolating since last October’s Parliamentary election. Lyashko had a 25% favorable to 65% unfavorable rating in the latest poll by IRI.
Samopomich refused to support the decentralization alleging that the Presidential Administration was bribing MP’s to vote for the bill. However five of their 31 members including Hanna Hopko voted for decentralization, which led to their swift expulsion from the faction. Hopko’s expulsion from the faction was especially surprising since it is the first time in Ukraine’s history that a deputy who was listed first on the party list was expelled from the faction. Hopko, who Chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, noted Samopomich Party Head and Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy largely withdrew from the situation in the middle of July. She also noted that he cowardly didn’t even contact her with a phone call, before her expulsion from the faction. Samopomich has now expelled six of their original 32 members – the most of any faction in Parliament. These actions, combined with their lack of support for decentralization, add fuel to suspicions that they may ultimately be financed by Kolomoyskyi. Meanwhile, Yuliya Tymoshenko and her Motherland faction coyly refused to support decentralization while simultaneously remaining in the coalition. Her low key approach to the vote suggests she is prepared to make a deal on the second vote in exchange for comparable concessions. As part of her strategy, some Motherland MP’s have floated rumors about leaving the coalition which could give her more bargaining power with Poroshenko. Though her 18 member faction is the smallest in Parliament, it could provide half of the needed votes to pass decentralization on the second reading.
The coalition “dust up” on decentralization will result in some government reshuffles in the coming weeks. Poroshenko Bloc Deputy Faction leader Igor Kononenko has been eyeing a Vice Premier’s post for some time and Voschevsky’s resignation opens up that possibility. Newly elected MP Serhiy Berezenko (formerly the Head of the State Management Service who won election in a special election in Chernihiv in July) is already being talked about as Kononenko’s replacement as Deputy Faction Leader. This move would put Berezenko on the fast track trajectory for a future Deputy Premier post himself. Meanwhile Motherland has its’ eyes on the post as well, perhaps as the price for their support for decentralization on the second reading. Another cabinet post that may be changed includes the perennially problematic post of Prosecutor General. Viktor Shokin already has 200 MP’s who have signed a petition to remove him from office – just 26 short of the amount needed. While Shokin’s deputy Vitaly Kasko appears to be the likely replacement, much can happen between now and when Shokin leaves office (whether voluntarily or by firing from Parliament). Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn remains a favorite target of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and around two dozen MP’s have called for his firing. However with the winter energy preparations appearing to be under control, Demchyshyn is likely to survive. Education Minister Serhiy Kvit has drawn criticism for a lack of concrete reforms and MP Liliya Hrynevych is a likely replacement. Healthcare Minister Aleksandr Kvitashvili remains on thin ice, barely surviving attempts to dismiss him in July. Expect changes in the Cabinet of Ministers this month and perhaps again, following the Local Elections in November.• Saakashvili Calls Out Yatsenyuk on Corruption: Odesa Governor Saakashvili has long been a master of public relations and has a flair for attacking unpopular policies and politicians. Up until last week, those attacks mostly centered on much hated oligarchs, and the even more hated Ukraine International Airlines. However, aware of Yatsenyuk’s increasingly political vulnerability, Saakashvili unleashed a brutal attack on the Prime Minister. The Odesa Governor accused Yatsenyuk of blocking his reforms and even more damningly, alleged that the Premier was on oligarch’s payrolls. Saakashvili stated, “Yatsenyuk regularly makes decisions in favor of Kolomoyskyi and Akhmetov” and added, “Authorities in Ukraine are controlled by oligarchic interests”. The Premier responded by saying that he fully realizes the “emotionality” of Saakashvili and fired back by stating, “I understand how difficult things are for him. They are difficult for everyone. We can all agree on this. For that reason, emotions and baseless accusations play into the hands of those who are against reforms in the country and those who are against real change in Ukraine.” President Poroshenko, just as he did in July during the power struggle between Prosecutor General Shokin and Deputy Prosecutor Sakvarelidze, once again jumped into the mix to try to convince the public that there is no real conflict by suggesting, “I want to stress: there is no inter-personal conflict between the Premier and Mikheil Saakashvili…Both the Prime Minister and Mikheil Saakashvili want to rectify the situation…I insist that we must do our utmost to ensure a united and efficient team play”. Thus, in the words of the Wizard of Oz, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. While the allegations may or may not be true, Saakashvili’s attack on Yatsenyuk speaks poorly for unity within the governing coalition. Certainly Saakashvili’s positive rating helped embolden him to attack the Premier. In the latest IRI survey specifically of Odesa voters, 41% of citizens view him favorably versus 37% who view him unfavorably. In comparison, Yatsenyuk is viewed favorably by just 10% of voters nationwide with 83% viewing him unfavorably (according to the same survey). It is no great secret that Yatsenyuk’s days as Prime Minister are numbered and he is likely to be replaced around New Years. This information and Saakashvili’s attack on the Premier have fueled speculation about Saakashvili wants the Premier’s post. A few days before the verbal assault against Yatsenyuk, an online petition was registered on the Presidential Administration website (part of the new e-governance efforts) to appoint the Georgian to the Prime Minister’s Post. The petition garnered the minimum 25,000 signatures for official consideration within a week, and continues to attract more support (currently more than 30,000). While Saakashvili publicly denied his interest in the Premier’s post, he in fact has a greater chance of becoming Prime Minister of Ukraine than he does of becoming Prime Minister of his native Georgia in the current, respective political environments. The image of “Premier Saakashvili” making a state visit to Georgia where he is wanted on politically motivated charges, has to be a pleasant thought in the Odesa Governor’s mind. Another factor in the Saakashvili and Yatsenyuk rift is the open animosity between Misha’s “Georgian Team” and Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front faction. The two sides have been taking mostly private shots at one another for months, however the shots are likely to become far more public in the coming weeks. A final factor in Saakashvili’s attack on Yatsenyuk could be a result of two of his key advisers: Sasha Borovik and Ihor Shevchenko. Borovik was denied the post of First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade at the order of the Prime Minister. Yatsenyuk was said to particularly dislike Borovik’s perceived “know it all” attitude. Given the Premier’s own ego and reputation for both being -and wanting to be acknowledged- as “the smartest guy in the room”, the two simply didn’t click. Upon learning that he would not be appointed to the post, Borovik went on national television to denounce the system as “rotten”. Ihor Shevchenko, who was the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources until getting sacked by Parliament in June, left office in a flurry of corruption allegations against the Prime Minister and his associates. With both Borovik and Shevchenko now advisers to Saakashvili, the Odesa Governor surely had no shortage of encouragement to attack Yatsenyuk. For now, both Saakashvili and Yatsenyuk will survive the scuffle, however the Byzantine battle to become the next Prime Minister has clearly begun. • Moldova’s Mad Protest: The late July approval by Parliament of a new Prime Minister for Moldova was supposed to stem the tide of anger in the country following the revelations of a one billion euro banking scandal. Immediately following the approval of Valeriy Strelets as Premier, the IMF began to make moves suggesting their return to Moldova to reopen negotiations on financial assistance, and there was cautious optimism about the long frozen talks on Transnistria finally making some progress. Those outcomes have been sidelined for the time being though with the large scale protests that began on September 6th. While official estimates of the crowd size vary, up to 100,000 persons participated in the demonstration in Chisinau. This dwarfs the April 2009 protests which ultimately toppled the Communist leadership of the country. The protestors are demanding the resignation of the six week old government, new parliamentary elections, the direct election of the president (under Moldova’s Constitution, Parliament elects the President with a 3/5 vote), the replacement of most security and defense officials and the return of the equivalent of one billion Euros that disappeared from four Moldovan banks last autumn. For a country the size of Moldova, one billion Euros is 1/6th of the entire GDP.
Moldovans anger over their lost savings is understandable and seems to be the prime driving force for the protests. While an investigation is underway and the banks will be liquidated, regular citizens have lost a significant amount of their life savings through a series of fraudulent loans. Without Western assistance, Moldovans will never see that money again. The direct election of the President of Moldova is an idea that has strong public support as well. Following a 900 day crisis in which the country couldn’t muster the 61 of 101 votes needed in Parliament to elect a President, the nation has tired of their unique system and clearly wants a direct and efficient say in the process. On the other hand, calling for the resignation of a government that has been in office just six weeks seems quite premature. In addition, new parliamentary elections would likely result in an increased number of seats in Parliament for the pro-Kremlin Socialist Party and a decrease in seats for the three pro-European coalition parties. Of course, new parties with a pro-European orientation might perform better, such as former Premier Iure Leanca’s European People’s Party, but there are no guarantees that new elections will produce a more Western leaning coalition. A second mass protest planned for Sunday, September 13th has been postponed but the protestors are planning to occupy the downtown of the capital through the end of the month (and perhaps longer). Moldova has had three Prime Ministers already this year and the current crisis threatens another change in government. The outcomes remain unclear but it is certain that Moldova is facing dangerous days ahead.
Dates to Watch (for Ukraine unless otherwise noted):
September 15-16: The “Political Subgroup” of the Trilateral Contact Group Meets in Minsk: The topic of discussion is how to hold elections this autumn. The OSCE has flatly refused to observe the elections planned by the DPR and LPR – thus eliminating any chance at international recognition of the results. This, combined with a decrease in hostilities in the occupied territories of Ukraine over the last month, give some hope that real elections may yet be held in the Donbass either in conjunction with the National Local Elections on October 25th (not likely due to time constraints) or early next year. However for the first time in a long time, there is now hope…
September 22: Next Trilateral Contact Group Meeting in Minsk
October 2: Normandy Four Summit in Paris: Foreign Ministers from France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia will meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this month to discuss preparations for the Paris Summit. An announcement of an end to hostilities in the Donbass would big a huge campaign boost to Poroshenko’s Solidarity Party in the Local Elections.
October 18: Local “Elections” in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. As an important development, the Head of the so-called DPR, Aleksandr Zakharchenko has denied rumors that there will be a referendum on joining Russia in conjunction with the local elections. This seems to indicate that serious negotiations are taking place which could bring an agreement on the occupied territories participating in future local elections in Ukraine.
October 25: National Local Elections for Mayor and City Councils.
November 1: Local “Elections” in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic.
November 8, 2015: Runoff Election Date under the New Election Law
January 31, 2016: New EU Expiration Date for Donbass related Sanctions on Russia
January 31, 2016: End of the Current Session of Parliament.
February 2016: Stockholm Arbitration Hearings on Counter Claims between Naftogaz and Gazprom. Naftogaz is seeking $16 billion dollars and a decision is expected by June 2016.
June 23, 2016: New EU Expiration Date for Crimea related Sanctions on Russia