Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lingering sense of injustice

The following story featured in Friday's Ukrainian 'Expres' newspaper.

"Former Yushchenkite and now colleague of Yanukovych stole $3.5Bn?

Independent trade unions blame the Federation of Trade-Unions of Ukraine of illegally appropriating billions of dollars-worth of property.

They consider that nearly 300 objects* in Crimea, in the Carpathian mountain region, and elsewhere were sold in 'shadow' schemes. "We suspect that property to the value of $3.5 Bn has disappeared. The person responsible for this is Oleksandr Stoyan," said the head of Federation Mykhaylo Volynets.

He also accuses Oleksandr Yurkin, the new head of the Trade Union Federation, of involvement in the misappropriation. Both Yurkin and Stoyan deny all the accusations.

Stoyan refused to give any information of his earnings, or to show reporters his new dacha in Koncha-Zaspa, a swanky new recreation and leisure suburb of Kyiv where many of the rich and powerful, including Kuchma, have built dachas and live. Stoyan, who is #23 on the PR parliamentary election list explained, "The builders are still working there, and I haven't planted any flowers." In the previous parliament he had been on the NU bloc list."

Whatever the veracity of this particular story, millions of Ukrainians, not unreasonably, feel that most privatizations were 'a steal' - they remain poor, whilst the likes of the two above have made it 'big', and that some are now taking advantage of criminal immunity in parliament .

Yuliya Tymoshenko taps into this ground swell of opinion on this core issue, and until some kind of legal clear-out procedure take place, the sense of injustice will linger.

On 16th February last year, Tymoshenko, when she was PM, gave a press conference from which sprung forth the story that she intended to privatize 3000 enterprises, spooking so many investors. Certainly a lot of damage was done, vital investments went elsewhere, and Tymoshenko herself was branded a rampant 're-nationalizer'. The story was reported in ForUm thus:

I've translated some bits so that readers can make up their own mind what Tymoshenko's intentions were, and whether she was wise to tackle this matter in the manner she did:

"Tymoshenko to sort out the privatizations of 3,000 enterprises"

"The gov't is to review the legality of privatization of more than 3,000 enterprises, the results of the inspections of which were set aside by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine for five years," declared PM Yuliya Tymoshenko.

"The leaders of the state covered up these criminal transgressions during the time of privatization... the absence of competition, and unprecedented reduction of the estimated value of state-owned objects...childrens camps, and superb industrial establishments were sold off for kopeks."

PM Tymoshenko reported that at that day's Cabinet meeting, the gov't and Procurator General's office had co-ordinated their actions. "And for each establishment where transgressions are exposed, a plan will be adopted, so that we can return to the state, that which was illegally transferred into private hands, solely by deceit and corruption," noted the head of the gov't.

She also reported that the given materials would be analyzed by the Ministry of Justice, and after this they would be handed over to a court. "We will return to state ownership, in an absolutely legitimate way, that which was illegally privatized."

"Nobody today can say what the number of objects that will be returned to state ownership [will be]. It has been established that violations during privatization occurred, and there are courts that should investigate these questions," she emphasized.

*probably holiday camps, sanatoria etc. LEvko

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

review doesn't mean reprivatization.

Undoubtedly some money would have gotten passed under the table in some cases with the effect of consolidating power in her party and some reprivatizations would have been made.

I think it's a matter of spin and Yusch not getting behind a reform agenda that would set some important precedents in favor of needed transparency in privatizations.