Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Yushchenko's foot-dragging..

Taras Kuzio, in a recent article "Oligarchs into Businessmen: Ukraine’s Transition to the Post-Kuchma Era" [in Egle Ridzeviciute ed., Contemporary Change in Ukraine. Baltic and East European Studies 5 (Stockholm: Baltic and East European Graduate School, Sodertorns Hogskola, 2006), pp.10-34] writes the following when describing the build-up to the 2004 Presidential elections:

"Those within the pro-presidential camp were evolving from oligarchs to businessmen understood the need for change.

A 'critical mass' of businessmen would like to operate in a 'normal' legal environment where the success or failure of their businesses will not be dependent on their faithfulness to the president. These former oligarchs, eg Pinchuk, maintain good relations with Yushchenko. Pinchuk and the Donbas clan are also legitimizing their business interests by inviting international auditing firms to place their business empires on a legal and transparent footing."
It seems, then, that Ukraine's most powerful businessmen, many of who also 'pull the strings' in its political parties, are changing the way their businesses are run, for the better. [I have written previously about 'Oxford-trained MBA's' working for Akhmetov]

Contrast this with some quotes on Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state-owned gas company from the recent GlobalWitness report:

" practices of Naftogaz under Yuriy Boyko, its chairman from 2002 to 2005.

Despite persistent questions about the intermediary companies, against a backdrop of public concerns about official corruption and organized crime in the countries of the former Soviet Union, there has never been sustained, thorough and high-level oversight of these companies, and the structures and people involved in them.

..critics might question Yushchenko's political will to confront Kuchma's legacy of opaque and unaccountable business practices.

Ukraine needs clear reforms to promote open and accountable management of its gas industry...Without reforms, the transit of gas to Ukraine will continue to be a highly politicised, opaque and unstable business"

President Yushchenko and his administration are lagging behind public opinion and treating the Ukrainian electorate with contempt. They are also lagging behind Ukraine's big businessmen.

ps Yuliya Tymoshenko and Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz today proposed a meeting to discuss coalition-building with President Yushchenko, in a jointly written letter. They suggest they all meet before 5th May. A source from the President's administration says, however, "There has been no official documentary appeal to the Secretariat." More foot-dragging..

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