Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tensions in Donbas

Although the Donbas region voted overwhelmingly in support of Yanukovych and PoR in the last two elections, there are tensions between rival industrial corporations and their industrial baron owners and chairmen which, if they continue to grow, could possibly even affect the balance of power in Kyiv.

An article from the Obkom website, which I've loosely translated, gives an illustration of what is going on:

"Il'ichite" Volodymyr Boyko hints, that "lyubi druzi" in the "anti-crisis coalition" can destroy the Mariupol Metallurgical Kombinat im. Ilyich (MMK) as well as a bunch of sponsored kolkhozes 'im. Lenin'.

[MMC co-operative is one of the world's biggest metallurgy plants employing around 100,000 people, and has a turnover of over $3Bn p.a. Boyko, a Socialist VR deputy, and reputedly his party's sponsor, is MMC's president.]

The President of the (MMK) im. Ilyich (Donets region), VR deputy Vladimir Boyko declared, that the situation in the mining and metallurgical complex threatens the existence of the number of metallurgical enterprises, according to reports today in "Interfax-Ukraine".

Vladimir Semenovich Boyko's recent history is a tale of moral-political twists and turns worthy of dramatic novel- it reveals the consequences of following the orders of "Yanuchary", given out by them on the eve of the 2006 VR elections.

After V. Boyko led his multi-thousand 'kolektiv' to the elections under Moroz's banner; after they went over to the "yanuchary", when Moroz himself (who without the support of "Il'ichevskiy" proletariat may not have made it into the VR, but would have joined the other socialists - ie the "progressives" and "uniteds" - out of power) grabbed the VR speaker's chair, the "red director [Boyko]" was covered with gloom.

Did not Vladimir Semenovich threaten the existence of "Donetskkoks" managed by the Klyuyev brothers, and Akhmetov's little brother), after leasing the coke ovens of Yasinovskogo KHZ and depriving "Donetskkoks" of its orders? Then seeing the folly of this step he had to turn to Russian suppliers in Altai, Siberia, for coke. [Astonishingly, there seems to be a "shortage" of coke for steelmaking in Ukraine at the moment - partly because coal-fired power stations are increasing their stocks. Was there ever a shortage of coffee in Brazil?]

None of the "Donetskiye" have forgotten Vladimir Semenovich's successful attempt to prevent them in 2000, taking control of "MMK im. Ilyich" which did not fall within the standard procedure of privatization, but remained the property of a so-called "workers' collective".

No-one has forgotten of how he publicly declared that the Donetsk "gang" (that's how Vladimir Semenovich characterized the Donetsk Oblast State Admin when Yanukovich was its governor) wanted to take away and steal for themselves this metallurgical giant, and even made an attempt on the life of "Il'ichevsk" leader [Boyko] himself.

Crucially, after 'Krivorozhstal' slipped out of Akhmetov's hands [when reprivatized], real power was won by him in the VR elections, and the Mariupol'skiy Metallurgical Combine has now become not only desired, but also easily attainable.

Indeed in spite of being regarded as more 'a man of the people' that any of the other 'steel barons', Boyko's behaviour has been curious in the last few months. For example, he called his people to vote in the 2006 elections for Moroz - but his people voted for "Regionaly". This caused Vladimir Semenovich grevious offence, and he reduced investment for the improvement of local schools, hospitals and tramways [as punishment]. He encouraged local media to pick a fight with the Mariupol town council, dominated by "Yanuchary". But then after entry of the Socialists into the "Anti-crisis coalition" Vladimir Semenovich replaced his righteous anger to Yanukovych and Co. with sweet statements via his journals and media.

But the "Donetskiye " are not to be so easily assuaged. And yesterday in Dnepropetrovsk the "Il'ichtites" started whining that their hopes for benevolence from "Donetsk gang" have not been realized in any way.

Quote from " Interfax-Ukraine": "How will we be able to survive with those conditions, which have now been created with gas? We can survive everything, if we build correct interrelations inside the state, " said V. Boyko on Thursday in Dnipropetrovsk at a conference on the development of the Mining/Metallurgy Complex, which Viktor Yanukovych also attended.

He noted that his Kombinat acquires gas at 108 dollars for 1 thousand cu. m, and taking into account transport expenditures and VAT, its price is $148 for 1 thousand cu. m. V. Boyko also emphasized that the ore-enriching combines (GOKs) sell concentrate to MMK im. Ilyich for 260 hr. per 1 ton, whereas its cost comprises just 137 hn. V. Boyko added that the GOKs are intending to increase price even more.

"All of the resources in the country in actual fact now belong to just a few groups, and it is necessary to solve the question of their relation with other participants in the market," said the VR deputy.

The honorary President of the MMC [Boyko] noted that in Ukraine, "actually four plants have found themselves without raw materials, amongst them are - MMK im. Ilyich, and 'Zaporizhstal'." V. Boyko emphasized that Inguletskiy GOK, since the beginning of the year, increased its price on raw material from $27 to $50.5 per ton for simple concentrate, and also to 58 dollars for a ton for 8% concentrate."

What is more remarkable, is that "brave and uncompromising" Vladimir Semenovich was a model of diplomacy and did not confront Yanukovych with the names of those GOKs, which have passed into the hands of Rinat Akhmetov- his partner in the anticrisis coalition. These are SevGOK nor TsGOK.

After this, Vladimir Semenovich amused those present by stating: "We will involve the trade unions and raise the question, what to do further in this situation and generally in this country." The threat "to raise trade unions" against the "Donetsk bandits" has been considered a sign of desperation and weakness in the past. [The article links to info that the Federation of Trade Unions have recently 'settled all of their differences' with the Cabinet of Ministers and have signed their own 'Universal'. Three union bosses were elected to the VR on the PoR list ]

The 'Ostrov' website recently posted this article [In English]: "At the most successful mines of mining administrations of ‘Donbass’ and ‘Yuzhnodonbasskaya’ No.1 strikes are being prepared".

I have also written on this subject, and on tensions between two of Ukraine's biggest industrial corporations, Akhmetov's SCM, and IUD, just a few days ago.

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