Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gangster state

For all of the talk of economic progress and cleaning up of politics in Ukraine, the grim reality is that business, politics and organized crime are intertwined, and disputes are still too often settled by criminal means. Politicians, businessmen, as well as police are still being periodically assassinated.

'Juicy' bits of real estate such as the 'Ozerka' market in Dnipropetrovsk are being fought over by private armies on behalf of their untouchable oligarchic paymasters whilst state law-enforcement agencies stand idly by.

I've loosely translated some parts from an article from today's 'Kommersant', by no means a sensationalist newspaper, below:

In parliament an atmosphere of fear has set in

Deputies frighten each other with the situation in the country and within their families.
Without naming concrete names, Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc has accused the authorities of terrorist attacks against its deputies.

A large part of the yesterday's sitting in Parliament was concerned with the drafting of the State budget for 2007. Nevertheless the day began with addresses from several parliamentarians. BYuT deputy Oleksandr Turchinov stated that in Ukraine, "criminal terror has begun [to be used] against the opposition fraction". He spoke at length about several incidents in which representatives of BYuT have been attacked in different regions, in particular about the murder on 27th October of one of one of its leaders in the the Donetsk oblast - a founder of the Debal'tsevsk machine building plant - Gennadiy Bystryakov. Turchynov accused local authorities of indifference in solving the murder.

"You had excellent possibilities to demonstrate force and decency of the authorities, when you were the head of the security service," retorted VR speaker Oleksandr Moroz to these charges.

Immediately after Turchinov left the podium, up stepped the leader of Socialist fraction Vasyl Tsushko, who stated that, "For the first time I come to the platform not to talk on about politics."

Mr. Tsushko reminded deputies, about his recent appearance on an ICTV TV program - "Freedom of Word" when he publicly quoted President Viktor Yushchenko who had once asserted that the company "Unified energy systems of Ukraine" (YeESU), which was headed Yulia Tymoshenko, were responsible for state losses of 8 billion hryven.
"After this my family and I were subjected to illegal pressure and persecution from unknown persons," said Mr. Tsushko. He alleged that certain anonymous persons had told him they know the telephone numbers of its family, had provoked a traffic accident, and also intimidated his son and wife.

After the VR session Oleksandr Turchynov responded, accusing Tsuskho of talking rubbish, raking over the matter of YeESU for political gain. He suggested Tsushko go to the SBU to provide protection and to check out his accusations. BYuT representatives had stated previously that they were suing Tsushko for slander folowing his remarks on TV, but a spokesman from the judical department, Andriy Portnov, told 'Kommersant' that he knew nothing of this.

On 26th October, a BYuT Lviv city council deputy, Roman Fedyshyn survived an assassination attempt during which Fedyshyn's car was blown up - a young schoolgirl, Mariya Kutsynda, was killed.

In June two ByuT representatives were killed. On 11th of June Zaporizhzha city council deputy Viktor Savkin was shot dead in Yalta. That same week, Hryhoriy Potelchak, a city councillor from Nizhyn was also killed.

BYuT has made many unsubstantiated claims in recent times about murders, bribes of VR deputies, and corruption at the highest levels of government. Nevertheless, people as still being killed with impunity, that's a fact. And while the country has leaders who climbed to the top of the political/business ladder by methods akin to those employed at the 'Ozerka' market, this state of affairs will continue.

More on "Ozerka" - UNIAN reports that groups of raiders, many from Russia, have been seen mobilizing in the suburbs of Dnipropetrovsk in order to launch another attack on the market.

Unian' s sources speculate that the conflict around "Ozerka" is being used by specific political forces of Russian origin to destabilize the region and then the country as a whole, and that the attempts to take "Ozerka" is a rehearsal for similar actions in other parts of Ukraine. The article mentions that Maxim Kurochkin, one of the two chief protagonists in the tussle, benefits from the patronage of the highest echelons of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as that of the Russian president's administration.

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