- President Poroshenko’s office rejects IMF criticism of his draft law to create an anti-corruption court, saying Monday evening: “All discussions about certain norms must be held within the legal framework in the Ukrainian parliament." Earlier in the day, news outlets published a letter to Ihor Rainin, head of the Poroshenko administration, from Ron van Rooden, IMF mission chief for Ukraine. “We have serious concerns about the draft law,” van Rooden wrote June 11, referring to the draft law. “Several provisions are not consistent with the authorities’ commitments under Ukraine’s IMF-supported program.” Analyst Timothy Ash writes: “[Poroshenko] obviously does not think Ukraine needs cheap IMF financing. It always amazed me to read analysis suggesting IMF disbursements in Q1 or earlier. As is, Ukraine will be lucky to get any IMF disbursements this side of elections next year.”
- The hryvnia weakened by 1.6% over the first two weeks of January to UAH 28.5 to the dollar. This comes after the national currency only weakened by 3.1% during all of 2017, it’s most stable performance in four years. To prevent exchange rate spikes, the National Bank of Ukraine has injected $53.5 million into the banking system this month. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “By the end of 2018, we expect the hryvnia will touch UAH 29 to the dollar on the back of further current account deficit widening.”
- Rents in upscale Kyiv shopping centers rebounded last year by 23%, to $960 per square meters per year, the highest jump in the history of the local index, reports Jones Lang LaSalle, the real estate consultancy. At the same time, vacancies dropped by 6.5 percentage points, “a record drop in the annual vacancy rate,” JLL reports. Pressing the market, real wages in Kyiv increased last year by 11.3% and, for the first time in recent memory no new shopping centers opened. Due to construction delays, five new shopping centers are to open in 2018, adding 114,000 square meters of new retail space. Also, this year, Kyiv is to see several new international brand stores: De Facto, Decathlon, FLO, H & M, IKEA, Koton, and Zara Home.
- The average sale price for a Kyiv apartment fell 6% last year, to $977/square meter, consulting company SV Development tells UNIAN. While prices fell across the city, the lowest drop was in Podil, where prices fell by 4.4% to $905/square meter.
- Nuclear power production increased by 5.7% in 2017, Energoatom reports. About half of Ukraine’s power comes from its four nuclear power plants, a ratio topped in Europe only by France. Last year, the nation’s 15 nuclear reactors produced 85 billion kWh.
- Despite foreign press reports that imply that Ukraine has a high crime rate, the number of murders is one third the level of 20 years ago, Viacheslav Abroskin, deputy chief of Ukraine's National Police writes on Facebook. In 1997, 4,529 people were murdered in Ukraine, three times as many as the 1,551 murders recorded in 2017. He wrote: "In 2017, culprits were identified in 1,387 out of 1,551 murder cases, while 466 cases were solved that had been dragging over the years." Last November, The Wall Street Journal started a feature story: “Bodies are piling up in Kiev...” Last week, The New York Times published a lengthy story on the murder of Iryna Nozdrovska, the human rights lawyer.
- Turkey plans to start building this year a 45 km sea level canal to allow ships to bypass the congested Bosphorus Strait, Anadolu news agency reports. The Istanbul Canal is to cost over $10 billion and is to be completed in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Most of Ukraine’s trade with the outside world leaves the Black Sea ports and passes through the Bosphorus.
- Thailand is to receive by ship next week a final batch of Oplot battle tanks from a 2011 order to Kharkiv’s Malyshev Factory, UkrOboronProm reports. To complete the $240 million Thai order, Malyshev is to ship several combat vehicles in coming weeks. Fulfillment of the order was held up by the need to make tanks for Ukraine’s war effort after Russia supplied hundreds of tanks in 2014 to separatists 300 km southeast of Kharkiv Now, the plant is returning to producing Oplot tanks full time for Ukraine’s army.
- After Vodaphone lines were cut last week in a part of Donetsk controlled by separatists, the secessionist leader Alexander Zakharchenko threatened Monday to place the cellphone operator’s property under “external control.” This coded threat to seize Vodaphone property came after several days of loss of cell service for Vodaphone subscribers on the eastern side of the line of control. Zakharchenko charges Vodaphone with “sabotage.” Vodaphone has asked permission to send a team into the area to repair the cut line.
- Over the Christmas/New Year's holidays, Ukrainians called less, but used twice as much internet traffic on their smart phones, according to the nation’s top three mobile operators. Kyivstar, the largest reports: “The total amount of data traffic used by subscribers in the Kyivstar mobile network for the New Year and Christmas 2018 reached 2,4 thousand terabits (nearly 200 years of HD video viewing).
- Digital audio broadcasting is to come to Kyiv in the second half of 2018 as a DAB+ broadcasting license is to be issued shortly by the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine.
- The new multiplex will feature 14 radio stations, which will be made up of five national radio stations and nine regional and local stations, reports Radio World news site. Concern Radio Communications and Television is managing the project, which involves building by June two transmitters, one on the left bank and one on the right bank.
- Financing now is lined up for construction of the EUR 44 million Radisson Blu hotel in Odesa, reports the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank. The bank is loaning EUR 15.4 million for the project, joining two other institutional investors – the Danish Investment Fund and The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation. Located on Primorsky Boulevard, the 205-room hotel will be one of the first international hotels in Odessa.
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UBJ a.m. is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org