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Ukraine Live Blog: Zelenskiy Takes Charge

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy examines books at the Book Arsenal festival in Kyiv on May 23.

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-- Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone on May 24, discussing efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, both offices said.

-- Top figures in Ukraine's new Orthodox Church are meeting in a synod amid an apparent power struggle between Patriarch Filaret, an early vocal supporter of the independent Ukrainian church, and the new church's elected head, Metropolitan Epifaniy.

-- A major Ukrainian bank at the center of a scandal involving a powerful, politically connected billionaire has sued its former oligarch owners in U.S. court, amid a battle for control that could affect relations with Western lending institutions.

*Time stamps on the blog refer to local time in Ukraine

16:55 6.12.2018

Another item from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service:

Ukraine's Parliament Approves Bill To Terminate Friendship Treaty With Russia

KYIV -- Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has approved a move by President Petro Poroshenko to terminate the country's Treaty of Friendship with Russia.

On December 6, 277 lawmakers voted to terminate the treaty by allowing it to expire. Passage of the bill required only 226 votes.

The treaty is due to expire on March 31, 2019. Under the Ukrainian legislation, it will not be prolonged after that date.

Signed in 1997, the treaty obliges Russia and Ukraine to "respect the territorial integrity of each other and confirm inviolability of current mutual borders."

It also says that Ukraine and Russia should build bilateral relations "based on principles of mutual respect of sovereign equality, inviolability of borders, peaceful resolution of differences, without use of force or threat to use force."

Ukrainian government forces have been fighting against Russia-backed separatists in the eastern Ukraine since April 2014, shortly after Russia military forces seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and annexed the territory.

Although Moscow denies interfering in Ukraine's domestic affairs, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in November 2016 ruled that the fighting in eastern Ukraine is "an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation."

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