Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Squirrels fighting back..

Ukraine's richest man and newly-elected VR deputy, Rinat Akhmetov, received an unpleasant surprise yesterday when the Donetsk oblast state court took away 145 hectares of his land that had once been part of the Donetsk botanical gardens. The Court anulled a decision which had been taken by the Donetsk City Council to give Akhmetov, a.k.a. 'Botanik', the land on which, apparently, Akhmetov has a residence, together with several buildings built by Viktor Yanukovych.

The land in question comprises an arboretum, and has been transferred back to a communal enterprise: "The Donetsk Ecological Investment Project".

On 10th September 2004, just before the Orange Revolution and while Yanukovych was still PM, former President Leonid Kuchma signed an 'ukaz' reducing the area of the Donetsk botanical gardens by 63 hectares. Many similar transfers of portions of nature reserves and reservations to Kuchma's flunkeys took place in the months before the Autumn 2004 Presidential elections.

Meanwhile, Oleksiy Ivchenko, chairman of Ukrainian State Gas Company 'NaftohazUkrainy', has been personally ordered by President Yushchenko to return his new company car, an S-class Mercedes AMG [list price $215,000] back to the showroom for resale. The President, in a press conference today insisted a moratorium be held on e.g. the purchase of expensive automobiles, apartments, and similar 'perks' for high-ranking civil servants.

Last week 'Ukrainska Pravda' had exposed the purchase of Ivchenko's 'new toy' to its readers, at a time when rumours were circulating that 'NaftohazUkrainy' are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Ivchenko was at the heart of the Gazprom-RosUkrEnergo-Naftohaz Ukrainy negotiations following the 1st January gas crisis, and is #25 on NSNU's list of newly-elected VR deputies. There are unconfirmed reports that he may soon be fired.

It's a pity Yushchenko did not 'crack the whip' early last year when he first became President.

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