Monday, April 30, 2007

Dynamic tension..

Today president Yushchenko sacked Valeriy Pshenychniy, one of the Constitutional Court judges for 'violating his vows of office.' I posted about some of Pshenychniy's dubious dealings several days ago.

From 'Oboz': "A letter from the President on the need to abolish privileges to 'special economic zones' (SEZ) and 'territories of priority development' (TPR) in the Donetsk region, was sent to prime minister Yanukovych on Wednesday 25th March. i.e. - on the eve of the second ukaz on the dissolution of parliament and re-re-appointment of Svyatoslav Piskun to the post of 'henprokurator'.

The coincidence of these events can be be interpreted thus: Viktor Yushchenko is now attacking the "Donetski" along all fronts, including economic. The logic is that he wants to turn off oxygen to his opponents, in the financial field. It is possible that the money given to the "zones and territories" is being used finance trains carrying Donetsk "political tourists" to Kyiv."

Yush has taken Charles Atlas's 'dynamic tension course' and is fighting back..

Seriously, LEvko highly recommends Yevhen Zakharov's excellent "On the political situation in Ukraine" from the Information website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group - Anyone interested in Ukrainian affairs should read it!
[From Ukrainetoday]

"It is thus, most regrettably, difficult to see a legal solution to the political crisis. Yet without returning to the law, it is impossible to overcome the crisis. Early parliamentary elections without a change to the Constitution and to electoral law will change nothing. A way out of the political crisis is thus possible only via political agreement between the President and parliament."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Snake pit politics

Last summertime, the unexpectedly re-appointed Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun [see picture] was telling 'Oboz' that the prez's dismissal of the VR would be: "a betrayal of the fatherland."

"In this instance there are sufficient grounds to commence criminal proceedings against Viktor Yushchenko as per the article 'misuse of power and official authority," he said. [Yushchenko had come within a whisker of dismissing the VR last August.]

Piskun had also mused about locking up the President for other transgressions. Less than half a year ago he suggested to 'Oboz' that an investigation was required into how Petro Yush's gas business, which is linked to 'RosUkrEnergo', is percieved by Viktor Yush. He now has an excellent opportunity to do this, suggests 'Oboz' cheekily...

The publication adds that although Piskun is a PoR VR deputy, he has no debt of gratitute to that party...he paid in cash for his place on the party election list, before last March's VR elections..

Some in the presidential team suggest that Piskun should 'do at least something' for Yushchenko in gratitude to Yush re-appointing him.."like open a criminal case against Stanik".

'Oboz' and others claim Piskun has already kicked out former P-G Medvedko's deputies - the highly dubious and disreputable bunch of Kuzmin, Pshonka and Shokin, and replaced them with the loyal Mykola Holomsha [who had been sacked by Pshonka just a few days ago].

Last night at a big open opposition meeting in Kyiv Yushchenko declared, "I am convinced that the changes which have taken place in the Prosecutor-General's office will lead to the P-G beginning a 'clear-out' [chystka] at the top, and bring about order in its work. We will see an effectively working 'henprokuratura' which will respond adequately to all resonant criminal matters." Hmm.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The squeaker is back [again]

Some speculation in today's normally solid "Delo" business newspaper about the re-re-appointment of Svyatoslav Piskun - the van'ka vstan'ka [weighted self-righting tilting doll] of Ukrainian politics. Some bits below:


"The President will require of him 'a clear and precise reaction' to the decision of the KabMin not to fulfill the President's decree on snap parliamentary elections, as well as on the activities of a number of local councils who are not carrying out instructions to prepare for these elections. The primary task then, placed on Piskun, is to control financing of the early elections and to control the work of the Central Election Commission. Piskun must have agreed to this.


After being sacked by the president, relations between the president and the disgraced Prosecutor-General were completely destroyed, Piskun openly criticizing him and referring to the head of state in uncomplimentary terms.


Piskun has been given a guarantee, but not by the president, but by an influential representative of the Party of Regions, says a confidential source of 'Delo'. According to the source, a rift is taking place inside Party of Regions along a Yanukovych-Akhmetov fault line. The latter supports the idea of re-elections, hoping to strengthen his position in the fraction and at the same time placing a check on the premier's grasping of authority.


Whether this version corresponds to reality, will become clearer immediately after the first cadre reshuffles in the Prosecutor-General's office. For example, if Svyatoslav Piskun discharges Yanukovych's godparent - deputy general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka, and at the same time allows Renat Kuzmin, who is considered close to Rinat Akhmetov, to remain, will indicate that 'Delo's' source is correct.


LEvko says there may be some truth in this. Akhmetov is a shrewd gambler. Some say that he started his meteoric career as a 'naperstochnik' - a three-thimble and pea scam grifter who rose to be a high-stakes roller. He is not one to miss an opportunity, even if some risk is involved.
Photo of Piskun and Akhmetov from Ukr Pravda. Do those smiles seem sincere?

ps Piskun in Russian means 'sqeaker'. One article calls him "the last refuge for [Ukr] presidents". "In Ukraine, from the days of Kuchma, a panacea was confirmed against Donetsk prosecutors: if there is no other way, there is always the 'ace up the sleeve' - Piskun." Too right..

Counterbalancing the FIGs

An article entitled "Attack of the clans - today's crisis in Ukraine was provoked by the concluding phase of redistribution of assets", in the current pro-Yush 'Bez Tsenzury', concludes:

"Leonid Kuchma well knows that the system of counterbalances created by him earlier cannot work without him. It was precisely because of this that the changes to the constitution in 2004 were taken on in emergency order.

Leonid Kuchma in his time was a real guarantor, but not of the constitution. [Ukraine's president is sometimes called the guarantor of the constitution.] He guaranteed that not one oligarchical clan in Ukraine would obtain a monopoly of authority and capital. Pavlo Lazarenko was removed precisely for the fact that he attempted to create exactly such a monopoly. The former President also cannot but understand, that a time bomb was placed during his time in office. Indeed the clans (which are now euphemistically called financial-industrial groups) grasped a large portion of state assets. This is what Leonid Kuchma did - by strengthening or weakening at first one, then another figure, he held the growing appetites of oligarchs in check. This was possible under the non democratic conditions created by him. But such a scheme cannot work in the conditions of parliamentarism - the deterent factor has disappeared, but the clans remain. So what we observe today is a ferocious contest for power and the redistribution of assets."
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Today Svyatoslav Piskun was reappointed as Prosecutor-General by the president for a third time. This man is unique in Ukrainian political intrigues and has served many masters - at the moment he is a PoR VR deputy. He has pursued some of the top players on the Ukrainian political scene over the years, and is probably the slickest behind-the-scenes operator of them all.

LEvko thinks he just loves the power of being P-G, which enables fixing of deals. He should serve Yush well - and PoR are not too pleased about this. LEvko seems to recall that during the OR he frequently discretely visited Yush's house in Kyiv. Good write-up in Ukr Pravda.

In a 5-iy Kanal TV interview tonight Piskun declared that the president's ukaz to dismiss the VR is binding on all state officials. When the interviewer asked him why had he voted last week with the VR coalition not to recognize the president's ukaz, he replied: "Why did my card vote? You saw what I was occupied with. I cannot be here and there, so, it's possible, someone pressed my [voting] button." What a guy..

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Constitutional or Kangaroo Court?

Interesting piece in 'Ukr Pravda' today on shenanigans in the Constitutional court.

Here are some paraphrased bits:

Negotiations between Yu and Ya on the current crisis, on several occasions took place in the presence of the US and German ambassadors William Taylor and Reinhardt Schaefer.

The atmosphere in the constitutional law court is complicated by mutual hostility and hardly concealed hatred between the judges. The CC is not prepared to take responsibility for any decision - which either one half or the other half of the country will challenge by questioning the court's authority.

The CC is empowered to interpret the existing constitution only, and should not comment on judgements made by the president in his ukaz e.g. on the imperative mandate.

As a result, the judges will not rush with their final judgement, If it is not given next week, the following week includes 4 days holidays, then rest days...

The best solution for the CC judges would be to wait until the politicians sort out the mess between themselves, and then write up their judgement to fit the politicians' requirements, according to their mutual agreement. Or they could simply close the legal proceedings entirely.

The judges are concerned about our old friend Syuzanna Stanik who is the rapporteur in the CC presenting the challenge to the president's ukaz to dismiss the VR. Suspicions of her taking bribes continues.

It seems that Stanik was sworn in as a CC judge in an unconstitutional manner on 22nd April 2004. Kuchma was absent, contrary to constitutional requirements.

In her years of work in the CC, Stanik was always a minor player, so it was odd that she was appointed to lead such a vital matter in the court. Once the 53 VR anti-crisis coalition deputies submitted their challenge to the court on 3rd April, some 'funny business' took place, again, contrary to the court's 'reglament', or code of precedures.

Deputy CC Chairman Valeriy Pshenichniy took it upon himself on that day to appoint Stanik rapporteur over the head of court 'top banana' Dombrowskiy [a Yush man] who was still at work. It was assumed 'Dombo' would resign on the 4th April. Had his resignation been accepted by the other court members, this would all have been irrelevant. In the event, he remained head of the CC. Another document has now apparently come to light dated 5th April, signed by Psenichniy which, because Dombo was not at work that day, would be valid. [All very suspicious].

On the 5th of April Stanik turned up to the court as rapporteur, but no vote took place to confirm her appointment, contrary to the CC's reglament. Yushchenko has asked the CC to provide documentation so that he can check any possible procedural irregularities.

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Pres. has postponed the snap VR elections until June 27th. Full text of his address in English here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Arrogance of the Staniks

Syuzanna Stanik's husband, Vadim Dolhanov, a newspaper editor, agreed to be interviewed by 'Unian' today. I have posted several times recently about Constitutional court judge Stanik , who is leading the court's deliberations on whether president Yushchenko had the constitutional right to dismiss the VR.

The interview is one long trashy diatribe directed at both Stanik's critics and opposition politicians.

When asked to enumerate land and apartments that they allegedly possess, he replies to his female questioner, "And can you tell us, what your underwear looks like?. [A freudian slip? Stanik in Polish means brassiere.]

That Stanik, supposedly one of the top judges in Ukraine, and her husband, are quite openly prepared to talk to the media about a 'sub-judice' case in which Stanik herself is currently deeply involved, while the Constitutional court in which she operates is considering this matter of critical national importance, shows their complete disregard to any notion of impartiality or prejudicial behaviour. She and her husband, like much of Ukraine's so-called judicial system, are a joke..

Journalists, including those from 'Ohlyadach/Obozrevatel' are doing their job.

A further 4 apartments in central Kyiv have been found registered to an Oksana Teodorivna Antoshko - the name of Stanik's 76-year old mother. Veteran BYuT deputy Hryhoriy Omelchenko claimed in a press conference recently that two other luxury apartments in central Kyiv, owned by Antoshko were sold last year for $2million and $1.8 million.

For all of Stanik's and her husband's bluster, this is not going to go away..

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Big business to solve crisis?

According to the 'novosti.dn' site,

Akhmetov, Feldman and Kolomoyskiy will be able to solve the political crisis during the next few days

Experts from the 'Agency for situation modelling' consider that the big businessmen represented in the Verkhovna Rada's fractions and state offices are capable of solving the political crisis that was triggered by the president's dissolution of parliament.

"ISD and Hayduk in Yushchenko's team, Feldman and Kolomoyskiy in Tymoshenko's team, Akhmetov's SCM in Yanukovych's team - literally in the next few days these regional leaders can solve the drawn-out political crisis - having returned politicians to the negotiationg table," said the deputy director of the Agency, Aleksey Golobutskiy.

He considers that regional elites are not drawn into this crisis, and therefore they can provide prescriptions for its solution. "The present political crisis has a virtual nature, which explains why the regions are not involved. For this very reason, regional elites have sufficient mechanisms to contribute to the regulation of present political crisis," said Golobutskiy.

He considers the crisis itself is the problem of politicians in the centre, and is not understood by the inhabitants of regions. "Today it is already obvious that the political crisis exists [only] in the minds of Kyiv's political elite. Whereas the mainstream inhabitants of Zhytomyr, Kharkiv and Odessa do not understand what is happening in the streets and squares of the capital. Regional political elites are obligated to say their piece in the present situation, and to drag the capital's political beau-monde from their state of creative stupor," said the expert.

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Constitutional Court judge Syuzanna Stanik, who is leading the court's deliberations on whether president Yushchenko had the constitutional right to dismiss the VR, and around whom a corruption scandal is currently swirling, has, astonishingly, gave an interview to the Russian Channel 1 TV station yesterday.

Stanik said: "If a Constitutional Court judge, a deputy chairman of the Constitutional Court, can be treated in this way, [as I've been treated,] what can be done to a lower court judge, in a district centre or some region of Ukraine, for instance? How can he be treated?"

"In December 2004 the CC also made a decision -and the Supreme court accepted it. Then all the orange flags stood at the Supreme court, and what were they demanding? The demanded a quick decision. And now? The opposite. So I have a simple question. If we believed the Supreme court and CC in 2004, what has changed in the meantime?"

LEvko says allegations of $12million 'back-handers' for starters..

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Westward-leaning conciliator

Brief interview in yesterday's 'Daily Telegraph' with 'former weightlifter and one-time racing driver' Viktor Yanukovych here

Are there no limits to the man's talents?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Yanukovych interview

Brief interview with a confident Yanukovych on EuroNews here. He seems well coached.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stink around Stanik

I've posted several times recently on allegations of corruption directed at deputy-head of the Constitutional Court, Syuzanna Stanik [see photo].
She is at the centre of media attention right now because she is leading the Constitutional Court's assessment into whether the President's decree to dismiss the VR was constitutional or not. Their decision, if one is made, could have a cataclysmic effect on the future of Ukrainian politics.

Today's 'Unian' publication provides more details of Syuzanna Stanik's dubious past.

According to their article, in September 2001, the first Deputy Chairman of the SBU Yuriy Vandin reported to a parliamentary committee on corruption and organized crime. He had been investigating the activities of a specialized government enterprise "UkrSpetsYust", which was subordinated to the Ministry of Justice. The minister of justice at that time was Syuzanna Stanik .

"UkrSpetsYust" was created in July, 1999 to liquidate confiscated and reclaimed property in accordance to courts' rulings, and comprised an astonishing 743 subdivisions over the entire country employing a total of 3568 people.

It was alleged that "UkrSpetsYust", in two years, had massively misused its authority by selling off profitable strategic enterprises for 'peanuts', including thousands of automobiles 'for the price of their wheels'.

Stanik declared that the outfit had brought great benefit to society, and that since the beginning of that year "UkrSpetsYust" had realized properties to to value of 4 million hryven.

However, the chairman of the parliamentary committee, Yuriy Karmazin, had his own data: in the short period of existence of 'Stanik's baby', it had 'turned over' about 6000 confiscated automobiles, which had been sold at a fraction of their worth. As a result of these vehicle sales, losses to the state exceeded 4 million hryven, It turned out later that these 6000 foreign-produced vehicles were from 3 oblasts only - Vinnitsa, Khmel'nitskiy and Chernovetsk.

It became apparent that there was a organized criminal ring operating which included a number of workers of UkrSpetsYust, court valuers and purchasers.

But this was only a small part of UkrSpetsYust's activities. 49% of the shares of private limited company "Rosava" were sold by them - the estimated value was 100 million hryven at that time. The company was sold for 20 times less - for 5 million. The size of the kick-backs can only be guessed, says UNIAN.

Other assets 'processed' by UkrSpetsYust included three power stations owned by joint stock company "DonbasEnergo", and the Luhansk, Kurakhovsk and Zuyevsk thermal power stations sold by emergency order.

First Deputy Chairman Yuriy Vandin also mentioned the "Hammer and sickle" enterprise sold for 30% of its true value, a scientific research institute sold for 4 million, whereas it had been valued at 104 million, and others.

It was no wonder that the parliamentarians proposed Stanik be removed from her post of justice minister, and UkrSpetsYust disbanded. But nothing came of this, probably because of Stanik's personal relationship with the-then president Leonid Kuchma and his wife.

The entire matter was suppressed, and Stanik sent away while things quietened down - to Strasbourg, to become Ukraine's representative at the Council of Europe. Subsequently she became ambassador to Switzerland. She was supposed to be ambassador to Poland, but there was a problem - in Polish "Stanik" means brassiere.

Stanik was born in Lviv in western Ukraine, and studied law at that city's university. She is a recipient of the presidential 'Order of Princess Olha' 3rd degree, and the presidential 'Order of Merit' 3rd degree.
LEvko thinks that other C.C. members' tacit acceptance of this woman amongst their ranks says much about the rest of the C.C...

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
On a brighter note, 'Shakhtar Donetsk' played out a rather dull 0-0 draw in the first leg of a Ukrainian Soccer league semi-final match against 'Tavriya Simferopol' last night.

The highlight of the evening was an announcement on the public address system that Ukraine had been selected by the Union of European Football Associations [UEFA], in a joint bid with Poland, to host the 2012 European Nations football championship finals.

Shakhtar's fanatical fans behind one goal spontaneously started chanting 'Uk-ra-i-na! Uk-ra-i-na! Uk-ra-i-na! ..

Compared with Stanik, the president of Shakhtar, Rinat Akhmetov doesn't seem so bad..

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Latest from PACE

Latest from PACE

All sides should accept the ruling of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, says PACE

Strasbourg, 19.04.2007 – The urgent ruling of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court in the current crisis, if delivered, should be accepted as binding by all sides, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) said in a resolution adopted today at the end of an urgent debate attended by Ukraine’s Parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Moroz.
However, the Assembly also warned that pressure in any form on the judges of the Court was “intolerable”, and should be investigated and criminally prosecuted.

In a resolution adopted by 107 votes to 5, the parliamentarians called on Ukraine’s leaders and parliament to resolve the current crisis in a legitimate, strictly constitutional and peaceful manner, “whether that be by calling legitimate early elections, emanating from the ruling of the Constitutional Court, or by way of a negotiated compromise”.

Early elections were a “normal practice” and could be accepted as “a key building block of the political compromise”, the parliamentarians said, but only according to a legitimate procedure that allows fair campaigning and a free choice for voters.

They regretted that the government “has not complied with the formally valid decree (until proven otherwise) and has not allocated the required funding for these elections The Assembly criticised “personal rivalries and short-sighted fights for personal gain, linked to posts and positions” and said the reputations of all the political leaders in Ukraine was “tarnished”.

It called for further constitutional reform to help resolve the current crisis and said the “imperative mandate” should be abandoned. PACE President RenĂ© van der Linden said he would visit Ukraine on 21 and 22 May, at the invitation of the Speaker Moroz, for high-level meetings.

Judge Syuzanna gets physical..

According to an article in today's 'Delo' business newspaper, "the first session of Constitutional Court examining of the legality of President's Decree dismissing the Verkhovna Rada was reminiscent of judical Comedy Club, rather than the work of authoritative lawyers. [Heard that somewhere before...]

There was a paucity not only of a constructive position by the judges, but also of elementary respect for one other. Throughout the entire session journalists present in the courtroom continually laughed aloud at the mutual verbal needling of members of law court."

The deputy chairman of the C.C. Syuzanna Stanik, who is leading the court's examination into the legality of the President's decree, was involved in a scuffle outside the court when she tried to force through a blockade of opposition demonstrators. In the altercation, she gave BYuT VR deputy Mykhaylo Volynets a couple of 'judicial slaps' across the face when no-one was watching. See video here [Better than clawing which leaves parallel scratch marks that can be used as evidence - any lawyer will tell you that.]

Astonishingly, according to the SBU press-centre, the SBU [security service] and Prosecutor General are continuing their investigation into alleged corruption and 'actions that include indications of a series of crimes' by Judge Stanik.

Yuliya Tymoshenko called the the events taking place in the C.C 'a farce'.

"But today we saw that deputies and peaceful citizens where quite severely beaten up by Popkov's police. It was Mr Popkov that controlled this operation."

It had been the same Serhiy Popkov, now deputy minister of internal affairs, that had given the order in 2004 to 'smash up the orange Maidan'. "Our political force will not recognize any decision of the C.C," she added.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Important PACE report released

Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe

"Functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine Report"
17th April 2007 here

More later..

Update - The're dropping like flies - The Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko is in hospital with 'heart problems'

A commenter has added: "How are his kidneys and liver, the favoured spots for application of force by the Proffessor?"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yanuk and the judges

Today PM Yanukovych visited the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. He declared that any political statements [made during the current crisis] will not influence the decisions of judges; and that, "We are making it impossible for any kind of pressure to be applied on judges."

This reminded me of a conversation between the then-president Kuchma and the then-head of Donetsk Oblast Rada Viktor Yanukovych, on 30th March 2000, secretly recorded by Mykola Melnychenko. The pair were discussing a court case being held in Donetsk, in which Kuchma considered that the accused, Sergey Salov, Oleksandr Moroz's election agent at that time who they were trying to 'frame', was being given 'an easy ride' in court. [Much more about the Salov affair, which finished up in the European court of human rights , in English here ]

Moroz and Yanuk are now big buddies in the ruling coalition - how things change..

Anyway, here are parts of the conversation.

Kuchma..Your judges are the dregs. I am now obliged to come and testify! That's why you should take this fucking judge, hang him by the balls, let him hang for one night.

Yanukovych..I understand. We will look into it.

Kuchma.. Judges in general. All fuckers.

Yanukovych..Well, the're the dregs. The boss of my court there is hopeless. He's got to be changed.

Kuchma..Well, I think now you'll look into it..that he'll remember it his whole life.

It was only about 9 months later that Moroz himself sensationally brought these recordings into the public domain.

[From Andrew Wilson's 'Ukraine's Orange Revolution' Yale University Press, page 57]

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Mykhailo Brodsky, a former member of Tymoshenko's 'Batkivshchyna' party interrupted an opposition 'democratic forces' press conference today. He revealed that Tymoshenko had promised him a bottle of cognac if she was unable to bribe the Constitutional Court, and even asked him for the money to bribe judges.

Yushchenko has been on his travels today too - to Brussels. At a press conference with Euro-parliament head Hans-Gert Pottering he stated that Ukrainian political forces are working on a suitable political packet, and that he is, "Convinced that we find ourselves close today to solving the political crisis."

Should all be sorted by Christmas then..

Monday, April 16, 2007

Constitutional Court or Comedy Club?

The Constitional court, which is supposed to commence deliberations tomorrow on whether President Yushchenko's ukaz to dismiss the VR was constitutional or not, has become a farce.

This from 'Ukrainian Journal': "Judges hospitalized as pressure mounts

KIEV, April 15 – At least three judges of the Constitutional Court were hospitalized over the weekend in development that may delay the court’s ruling on sharp political crisis in Ukraine, a television reported Sunday.

The court was supposed to start hearings on April 17 on the legality of President Viktor Yushchenko’s decree that had dismissed Parliament earlier this month amid unfolding political crisis in the country.

Susanna Stanik, the deputy head of the court who was authorized to report on the case, was suddenly taken to Feofania, an elite hospital near Kiev, Inter television reported.

Stanik, as well as two other judges that have been apparently taken to the same hospital over the weekend, are thought to be loyal to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych."

The Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] are investigating alleged bribery of Judge Stanik involving real estate and several automobiles to the value of $12m.

The SBU also confirm that evidence of coercion applied to some of the judges has come to light. A family member of one of the judges had the wheel nuts on his automobile loosened. [?] [I have long suspected these guys have a few 'screws loose']

The Prosecutor-General's office say, with laughably indecent haste, that the accusations against Judge Stanik have been checked out and have been determined to be groundless.

Last week 50% of Ukrainians considered the Consitutional court was incapable of making an objective legal decision. This week it would probably be even more.

LEvko says the CC is a discredited institution and should be dismissed [or ordered to take part in a best-of-5 penalty shoot-out to decide].

Or 18 new CC judges should be selected by the drawing of lots from a pool of young, anonymous and untainted judges.

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Interesting graphic on how Ukraine's GDP [in black]
is linked to world hot-rolled steel prices [in red]. The Orange Revolution, and the current troubles will not alter this graph.

...........................................................
Finally , some good analysis [in Russian] from the Ukrainian business journal: 'Expert'

I've translated and paraphrased portions:

"Viktor Yanukovich's team pushed too hard to establish a monopoly of power, and this provoked consolidated resistance from all other remaining players. It will be impossible now to avoid early parliamentary elections.

Last summer PoR had only one task - to minimize the consequences of the creation of orange coalition, but when Oleksandr Moroz left the orange team this allowed Regionaly to create their own ruling coalition. Yanukovych became prime minister, and "Our Ukraine" people and representatives of presidential environment were removed from the majority of administrative structures.

The new law "on the cabinet of ministers of Ukraine" gave the government almost unlimited power. The ruling coalition established control almost over all spheres of economic policy - from the privatization, to the regulation of banking sector. But even this wasn't enough for them. Yanukovych's team wanted one last decisive offensive, which would finish off the President as an independent center of power and would allow the premier to revive the one-man management of Leonid Kuchma's time. For Regionaly this became their Stalingrad. All of their opponents combined, and convinced the President Yushchenko to deliver the strike to their flank.

It's not worthwhile searching for a lawful basis for the breaking up of parliament - it does not exist. The decision of the President appeared twelve hours before former "NasheUkrainets" Volodymyr Zaplatinskiy , at a session of the VR, was to announce the creation of a new fraction of the ruling coalition consisting of 22 deserters from BYuT and NU. By the end of that week the majority would have been up to 300 deputies. Into the ukaz on snap elections was poured the energy of all political forces and business groups which understood that the constitutional majority, under the control of the premier, would have almost absolute power. Any opponents would either be subdued or would have to run abroad.

Indeed besides control over parliament, up to the moment of Yushchenko's radical step, the coalition almost established sole influence on the judicial system, enabling them to block constitutional law court. Even Kuchma did not have the possibility to combine legislative, and executive powers, and control their functioning.

Regionaly roughly destroyed one of the fundamental principles of a functioning system of balanced forces, formulated in the 60's of the previous century by American scientist Morton Kaplan, i.e. all subjects are unavoidably united against any participant, who attempts to acquire a dominant position with respect to the remaining part of the system. Certainly, for the presidential team, Yulia Tymoshenko is rival to equal Regionaly.

The actions of Yushchenko completely correspond to this rule. During September 2005 he sacked Tymoshenko's government after finding temporary support from Yanukovych. Now the President is 'blocked up' with BYuT in order to eliminate the scenario of the usurpation of authority by "Donetskiye". But if Tymoshenko's team turns out to be victorious in the elections, then the idea of a wide coalition between 'Regionaly and "Nasheukraintsi" could be realized by this summer.

No one can force the parties of the ruling coalition to participate in the early elections, but if they did not take part, the electorate of the Communists or Regionaly would vote for Nataliya Vitrenko or Volodymyr Litvin's parties.

The leadership of the Party of Rgions well understand that the government can only hinder, but not stop parliamentary elections - existing laws on election of VR deputies are such that elections are recognized as having taking place, even if only one party and one voter participates.

If Regionaly boycott the elections, they could finish up with nothing. The premier has to solve a complex problem - obey the decision of his political opponent Viktor Yushchenko while at the same time preserving face with his voters and party members.

If Regionaly play their cards right they have good chances to obtain a majority in the new parliament.

However, before the elections it is necessary for PoR to decide what to do with the Socialist Party. Independent participation of the SPU in the early elections mean they probably will not enter parliament at all, while joining up with Regionaly would deprive them of their independence. An analogous dilemma stands before Anatoliy Kinakh and the other deserters.

Pro-presidentia parties have a much greater chance of winning the elections if they form a mega-block.

The prospects of creating this mega-block will become known this week. On Tuesday the congress of "Our Ukraine" takes place, followed by "Batkivshchina". Yulia Tymoshenko thus far has not been well disposed to the idea.

Even after the snap elections questions about power in the Ukraine will again be the object of complex and multi-evel compromises between Party of Regions and the President.

The 'double act' of Victor Yanukovich and Victor Yushchenko, which was established in 2004, will be preserved at the minimum until the following presidential elections in November 2009."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Treating people like idiots

In his op-ed piece in today's 'FT' [Ukraine's democracy must rest on the rule of law], Viktor Yanukovych declares: "Mr Yushchenko's allegations that democracy in Ukraine is in danger are simply not true. Democracy is thriving."

He "invites interested readers to request a reference about the state of democracy in Ukraine from any independent and authoritative source such as the Council of Europe, which monitors our democratic progress."

The following quotes from "The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe Information note of the co-rapporteurs following their fact-finding visit to Ukraine (9-12 October 2006)", may be helpful.

The note, released several weeks ago, concludes:

paragraph #22 " The political reality in today's Ukraine shows that, apart from the conduct of free and transparent elections in March 2006, the promises of the Maidan to introduce clean, honest and competent governance and promote the rule of law and transparency at all levels have not been met. The new Cabinet is top-heavy with officials who personified the corrupt fusion of business interests with the government and the manipulation of elections before the Orange Revolution period. The non-transparent way in which the coalition negotiations were conducted over half a year, the mismatch of the political 'colours' of the so-called coalition partners and the murky deals that the short-lived 'grand coalition' stemmed from means that people do not finally know who they voted for..."

paragraph #23 "Ukraine's unpredictable political system without fixed rules, moral umpires or political traditions, where agreements between political forces are signed only to be broken on the following day, coupled with the lack of strategy and transparency, disinterest in reforms and the return of discredited personnel from the Kuchma era to the state apparatus cast doubt on the irreversibility of the spirit of the Universal, augment the gap between the state and society in Ukraine and seriously undermine Ukraine's international reputation as a reliable partner..."

paragraph #24 "A huge gap exists between the rhetoric and reality, promises and performance, intentions and action, which in turn have contributed to a loss in public confidence in state institutions, and to the rise of political apathy, corruption, and fears of eventual return of undemocratic practices."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Moroz to blame

Yush at his press conference today revealed that it was Moroz who caused his patience to snap on April 2nd. After their head-to-head earlier that day, Moroz was to have a meeting next day with VR deptuties, apparently to give them an update what was going on only.

Yush however, learned Moroz was calling an extraordinary meeting that evening and minutes later they were actively preparing a whole raft of decisions, including one to terminate the activity of the Central Election Commission.

Yush immediately phoned Moroz requesting him to stop taking such decisions. Moroz replied that he cannot go to the VR without a prepared proposals.

"Then I said, Oleksandr Oleksandrovych, you are acting according to your conscience, but I am acting as is required by the constitution. At 9 p.m. I signed the ukaz terminating the authority of the 5th convocation of the VR."

Seems to me that PoR have been suckered into this crisis by Moroz.

.................................................................................................

Rumours are flying about that deputy head of the Constitutional Court, and former Ukrainian minister of Justice Syuzanna Stanik, has been bribed. She had previously been Ukraine's representative in the Council of Europe, and was reportedly appointed to the C.C. thanks to her close ties to former president Kuchma and his wife, but her personal position on the president's ukaz is not known.

However, it seems that according to private notary Sotnikova, on 28th March this year an agreement had been made whereby an 'Oksana Fedorivna Antonenko' 'gifted' Judge Stanik two apartments at 27/28 Nesterivskyi Provulok in central Kyiv. The value of the apartments is estimated to be about $2m.

When she was in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe, she had a reputation for enjoying 'the finer things of life'.

PoR in a rather curious statement have warned of a campaign to discredit the CC judges, and categorically reject "all untrustworthy information that will be released into the informational domain later" [?]

Five C.C. judges [probably loyal to the president] have publicly asked for protection from external threats and pressure.

LEvko says the C.C. is descending into 'Affentheater'. They will probably finish up declaring that they could not come to a firm ruling, or will call their decision a non-binding recommendation only, or make some other kind of 'fudge'. Who can blame them.

Yush acts on Luhanskteplovoz

The higly dubious privatization of the biggest manufacturer of railway locomotives in the CIS took place a couple of weeks ago. No-one batted an eyelid.

Now this:

Yushchenko orders to check privatization of Luhanskteplovoz
Journal Staff Report

President Viktor Yushchenko urged Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko and Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Acting Head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko to check whether the State Property Fund of Ukraine was obeying the laws of Ukraine in the privatization of Luhanskteplovoz, the major producer of locomotives. The company was apparently sold at below market price to a Russian investor.

The president at his press conference today complained, "Instead of the expected 2 billion hryven, the treasury obtained only 292 million hryven. The invalid, the pensioner, the teacher, the entire nation all received less money."

LEvko thinks that its too late.. the train has already left the station...[sorry]

He went on: "What's going on with Ukrtelekom? Only a [small] part is going to be privatized, not the controlling interest. It is clear that an important investor would go after a controlling interest, but for a small portion, [only] a cheat. The same goes for the Odessa port plant, the obl-gazes, and the energy wholesale domestic market. If nation does not understand that it they that are being robbed in this way, everyone loses, Ukraine loses." said V.Yushchenko.

To find out who the cheat is, check out my February posting on Ukrtelekom here.

Yush going wobbly?

Viktor Hayduk, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council says, "The president's ukaz [to dismiss the VR] could be paused [pryzupynenyi], not countermanded [vidmineniy], but paused, which would provide a possibility, sufficient for political forces, to come to the election process."

President Yushchenko has told journalists he is prepared to discuss a possible later date for the snap election.

PM Yanukovych is also suggesting that Yushchenko pauses the enforcement [diya] of his ukaz, according to which early elections are scheduled to take place on the 27th of May.

Secretary general of Council of Europe Terry Davis has heard rumours of postoned elections too - something he says he supports.

He offered to help solve the current crisis if asked by the protagonists, but noted: " Ukraine should solve this problem itself, indeed the functioning of democracy and courts - these questions should be resolved in Ukraine ".

There may be a whiff of a deal here. Look out Yulka - Yu and Ya have shafted you many times before...

It will be Yush who will be seen as having backed down..

BBC carry an item on this too.


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'Ukraina Moloda' [pro-Yush] run a story in today's issue entitled: 'Hundreds of millions for 'Regiony' - the government coalition is seriously preparing for elections: 700 million hryven' stolen from the state treasury already.'

'UM' claim to have documents revealing a scam devised by Minister of Finances Mykola Azarov to skim off funds, perhaps for funding party election expenses.

Prior to importing goods, businesses have been able to deposit money in a client account with a commercial bank for settlement of import duties and VAT, in order to expedite passage of their goods through customs at the country's borders. This function has been taken over by the state treasury. If for any reason goods do not enter the country, the money can be reimbursed to the business enterprise concerned.

'UM' has documents revealing that on 30th March about 700 million hryven [~$140million] was paid to the state treasury by state stock company Naftohaz Ukrainy. On the 2nd April, the day the president issued his decree, the deputy head of the state treasury wrote a letter to the customs service saying, ' receipts to the special state budget VAT fund are not envisaged," and ordered the 'return' of this money to Naftohaz's account. The money has gone into a 'Bermuda triangle', UM claims.

The article says that without the goodwill of Azarov finding out where this money has gone now will be impossible.

LEvko says the sums of money involved, and the backgrounds of the people put in place at the prosecutor-general's office and at law enforcement agencies since last March's VR elections means that such matters will not be properly investigated. All but a few leading players in Ukrainian politics do not have the shadow of corruption on their backs. This is the tragedy of Ukraine, and maybe explains why compromise is so difficult.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Statesmanlike Yanukovych

I've translated excerpts from Yanukovych's interview today in the Polish newspaper 'Rzeczpospolita':

"It would have been better from all points of view, had President Yushchenko, in accordance with the law, consulted with the Constitutional Court before making of his decision. [He could have] asked, does he have the right for other reasons other than those defined by the constitution, to dissolve parliament. However, this did not occur.

But today we should all await the verdict of the Constitutional Court.

I responsibly declare: my government, the parliamentary coalition and I personally, will accept any decision of the Constitutional Court.

We expect this [also] from all participants in the political process in Ukraine.

In any event, elections cannot take place on 27th May, as President Yushchenko is demanding. If, of course, we are talking of honest and democratic elections - it is necessary to decide on many technical questions, [and] form election commissions.

At the moment, so far, there is time for the negotiations and the agreements. And I call on President Yushchenko to reject the language of ultimatums and to return for the negotiating table."

His tone is markedly different to that heard in the VR yesterday [see previous posting.]

Meanwhile, the CC have postponed their meeting until 17th of April to consult and decide on the legitimacy or otherwise of the President's ukaz to dismiss the VR and call for a snap election.

Yushchenko accepts that the date for the proposed snap election could be moved back. and has come up with his own 15 point program for compromise.. [Yawn..]

Ex-president of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski is flying in to Kyiv tonight. Maybe he will be around, in case he is needed, to broker a deal between Yu and Ya [again.]

Monday, April 09, 2007

VR ups the ante

An extraordinary session of the VR took place today and produced a rhetoric-laden address by the VR to the nation. The VR have significantly 'upped the ante' in their battle with the presidency.

I've loosely translated some bits to give a flavour of the address:

"The danger of citizen's discord and loss of statehood has been hung over Ukraine. The reason - an attempt to realize a state coup in the guise of premature termination of parliamentary authority...

Viktor Yushchenko is attempting to blackmail the Constitutional and other courts, terminate the work of parliament, and force the government to submit to illegal steps. He is forcing the SBU [security service] and army into anticonstitutional and illegal acts - surveillance of deputies, members of the government, Central Electoral Commission, and Constitutional Court judges are taking place...

Provocative acts of civil disobedience are being directed by headquarters led by the head of the Presidential Secretariat.

An open struggle for power is taking place...

They are [quite] capable of frittering away the massive receipts from privatisation, of dragging the gas-transport system to bankruptcy, getting into astronomical debt with foreign [creditors], raising the price of meat, sugar, gasoline and other goods, and provoking the growth in tariffs and prices of communal services by their troublemaking.

A full-blown counteraction is taking place against the attempts of parliament and government to strengthen the economy and financial system.

The 'avantyurysty' [political troublemakers] understand that a steady increase in the welfare of people is the main task and practical result for the parliamentary coalition and government, leaving them with no perspectives [for the future.]

We warn the president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko and all those organizing the conflict, that they will be held responsible for the consequences [of their actions].

We support simultaneous early presidential elections, early parliamentary elections, and the holding of a referendum [to determine] the nation's wishes concerning entry into NATO.

We call on all of those who wish to live in a prosperous democratic country, who want to have guaranteed work, wages, pensions, and student grants, want to have guaranteed medical services and a peaceful life, to support the parliament and government, created on the basis of your choice. "

I suspect a significant portion, if not majority of the electorate will take quite weary and cynical view of this. They know well that most of the 450 VR deputies are there primarily to look after themselves and their business interests. The evidence is in the VR car park [where you can find a choice selection of some of the world's finest automobiles] and in the height of the walls of deputies' dachas. But that doesn't mean that they don't have clear views on which political bloc to support.

The VR has also initiated an attempt to sack the minister of Defence Anatoliy Hrytsenko, and the leadership of the SBU. The proposal was submitted by the VR Socialist fraction leader Ivan Bokiy. The Socialist will have most to lose in the event of early elections.

In a counter-move, 'Nasha Ukraina' have appealed to all state institutions, to Ukraine's citizens, and to the world community not to react to today's, and to any further addresses or dicisions made by VR depties of the now 'disbanded' parliament. NU's appeal was made by new party leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko who said that all acts and decision made by the VR are now illegitimate.

Ukrainian politics is a 'zero sum game'. No-one is prepared to make the smallest concession without gaining something in return. Yulka T will be telling the pres, 'Go for it Viktor!'

Yushchenko's advisers are no doubt working on a 'fall-back' position in case the Constitional Court ruling goes against the pres. Perhaps they will challenge the VR constitutional reform bill #4180 which was passed without strict adherence to the constitution in order to resolve the O.R. crisis. Part of this bill included an 'imperative mandate' obligation for VR deputies: they would have to remain with the party on whose list they were elected, or lose their mandate.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pres's ukaz approved by public prosecutor and generals

The Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko, and the commander of the Ministry of Internal Affairs armed forces Oleksandr Kikhtenko both voted to support the Presidential ukaz to dissolve parliament, according the the President's official website which gives details of a vote taken at yesterday's session of the National Security and Defence Council [NSDC].

'Ostrov' says that the voting pattern indicates that that "Regiony" have already made their decision to accept elections. For what other purpose would "Donetskiite" Medvedko raise his hand for the motion they ask.

The emergency meeting of the NSDC also accepted a number of the decisions to ensure the Presidential ukaz of the President on the early parliamentary elections if fully carried out.
Yaroslav Davydovych, the head of the Central Electoral Commission gave a report on progress in the organisation of early elections.

The results of the NSDC meeting vote:

Viktor Yushchenko – the President of Ukraine – Chairman - FOR;
Mykola Azarov – the First vice-prime minister, Minister of Finance of Ukraine – AGAINST;
Viktor Baloga – Chairman of Secretary of the President of Ukraine – FOR;
Vitaliy Hayduk – Secretary NSDC – FOR;
Anatoliy Hrytsenko – Minister of Defence of Ukraine – FOR;
Sergiy Kirichenko – Chief of Joint Staff – Commander-in-chief, Armed Forces of Ukraine – FOR;
Oleksandr Kikhtenko – Chief of Central Administration – commander of Internal armies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine – FOR;
Mykola Malomuzh – Chairman of the External Intelligence Service of Ukraine – FOR;
Oleksandr Medvedko – Prosecutor General of Ukraine – FOR;
Valentyn Nalyvaychenko – First vice-president of Security Service of
Ukraine [SBU] and Head of the Anti-terrorist center at SBU – FOR;
Vasyl Onopenko – Chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine – FOR;
Volodymyr Stelmakh – Chairman of National bank of Ukraine – FOR;
Vasyl Tsushko – Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine – AGAINST;
Viktor Yanukovych – Prime minister of Ukraine – DID NOT VOTE;
Arseniy Yatsenyuk – Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine - FOR;
Yuriy Ruban – Director of the National Institute of Strategic Research - FOR.

LEvko says Yush has some pretty 'useful' buddies here..

Update: there seems to be some 'jiggerypokery' going on here. The pres's site now shows that Medvedko abstained - so did 'Ostrov' get it wrong in their piece too?

'Economist' article

Here's a piece from the latest 'Economist'.

Tragedy and farce
Ukraine's president dissolves parliament. Maybe

SIT-INS, blockades and fisticuffs are routine distractions in the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. But this week's chaos was unusual even by Ukrainian standards. After a big demonstration last weekend urged him on, President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree on April 2nd to dissolve parliament and call a fresh election for May 27th. In the Rada, the ruling coalition promptly denounced the president and refused to budge. Each side now accuses the other of usurping power.

Mr Yushchenko's immediate worry was a run of defections from his party, Our Ukraine, and the one led by Yulia Tymoshenko, his ally during the “orange revolution” of 2004. Ms Tymoshenko later became his prime minister, until her alliance with the president drowned in a mire of corruption allegations in 2005. The government is now led by Viktor Yanukovich, whom Mr Yushchenko defeated in the presidential race that sparked the revolution, but who became prime minister (again) last August. The methods used to swell the ranks of his parliamentary coalition are widely rumoured to include bribery and blackmail. [Usually more sophisticated that this - see previous posting..LEvko]

The dodgy recruitment drive is the latest phase of a campaign to emasculate Mr Yushchenko, which began at the start of the unlikely cohabitation of the two Viktors. A constitutional reform agreed on during the orange revolution transferred some of the president's functions to parliament. Another law passed in January, with the help of the opportunistic Ms Tymoshenko, weakened Mr Yushchenko further. His efforts to nominate a foreign minister were repeatedly frustrated, as was his foreign policy itself.
The coalition's leaders are now openly bent on amassing a majority big enough to override the presidential veto and strip Mr Yushchenko of his residual powers. It sounds like the sort of constitutional fine-tuning to be expected in a young democracy. In Ukraine, alas, disputes that may seem like issues of principle are often disguised struggles for wealth. Politicians' attitudes to any given office depend on their prospects of occupying it. Beyond the Rada, the country is worryingly divided between Yanukovich supporters in the east and south, and those mostly in Kiev and the west who want a more enlightened government.

Many in this second camp, who have despaired of Mr Yushchenko's indecisiveness, were gleeful over the dissolution. But there are two reasons for caution. One is that, if the election goes ahead, it may produce a parliament that is just as fractious and corrupt as the existing one, which took almost six months after the previous election just to produce a government. Mr Yanukovich's Party of the Regions could even emerge stronger. The country may thus be fated to endure yet more political horsetrading and backstabbing—unless and until the entire ruling group of venal politicians is replaced.

The other trouble is that there may not be an election at all. The legal basis for the president's dissolution is questionable, and Mr Yanukovich's lot have referred it to the constitutional court—though the chances of a timely ruling that is not tainted by threats and bribery are remote. Some in Moscow note the similarities to the Russian stand-off of 1993, which ended with Boris Yeltsin's tanks shelling Russia's parliament. Ukraine's defence minister says the army is loyal to the president; the police answer to the government.

Meanwhile, anti-dissolution tent camps have sprung up in Kiev. For outside observers, the tents that housed the orange revolutionaries became symbols of peaceful democratic protest. For Ukraine's politicians, they have become just another way of getting what you want.

[I've posted it in full because it may go to subs. only.]

One reason for the political crisis

Recent turbulent events on the Ukrainian political scene have permitted a semi-rigged 'privatization' a few days ago of the biggest railway locomotive factory in the CIS - Luhanskteplovoz, to go almost unnoticed.

The Ukrainian state property fund [FDM] had intended to stage a public auction a la the Kryvorizhstal reprivatization last October.

In 1995 24% of the company had been been sold on the stock market and to employees, and in 2006 the FDM began preparations to sell off the controlling packet of Luhanskteplovoz shares. The German company Siemens, United States Bombardier, Ukrainian 'Privat' Group, and the Russian Transmashholding all showed interest, with the German and the Russian company being considered favourites to buy.

Andriy Klyuev and Viktor Yanukovych got involved, and eventually competition was closed to all companies except those that were either a supplier of components to Luhanskteplovoz, or purchasers of their products - leaving only 'Privat' and two subsidiaries of Transmashholding left in the chase.

It was suspected at that time that the Ukrainian KabMin would favour any Russian bid for Luhanskteplovoz as part of "asymmetrical arrangements with Russia on gas and other relevant issues between the two countries."

Independent investment assessors valued the packet of shares on offer, together with a controlling premium, at around $100 million.

The Russian 'Kommersant' ran this story [in English] a few days ago focussing on the Luhanskteplovoz privatization, and how Ukrainian political enemies are fighting over the carve-up of the country's wealth. I've included a portion [with very minor alterations]:

"The last few months have seen privatization actively moving forward in Ukraine under the supervision of the State Property Fund [FDM] , whose leader Valentina Semenyuk is a member of the Socialist Party, which is a partner in Viktor Yanukovych's "national unity coalition." Coincidentally or not, the decisions that the FDM has been making lately have been unfavorable for businessmen associated with Yulia Tymoshenko.

The noisiest scandal involved the recent privatization of the holding company Luhanskteplovoz: although Privat Group, which is owned by long-term Tymoshenko associate Igor Kolomoisky, wanted to bid on shares in the company, the FDM ruled that only two Russian companies, Demikhovsky Mashinostroitelny Zavod (Moscow Oblast) and the managing company of Bryansk Mashinostroitelny Zavod (both companies are controlled by the group Transmashkholding), would be allowed to participate in the auction.

When Luhanskteplovoz eventually went to Bryansk Mashinostroitelny Zavod for $58.5 million, BYuT charged that the deal was illegal and initiated a parliamentary investigation lead by BYuT deputy Andrey Kozhemyakin, the head of the Committee for Privatization Issues.

The fiercest battles over privatization still lie ahead, however. This year the FDM is preparing to auction off shares in Ukrtelekom, and Mr. Akhmetov's SCM has already expressed interest. The goverment has also given its consent to a broad privatization campaign in the electrical energy sector. Shares will be offered for sale in numerous government-owned regional energy companies, including Prikarpatenergo, Lvovenergo, Sumyenergo, Chernigovenergo, and Poltavaoblenergo, and experts are already predicting that SCM, Interpipe, and Privat will fight tooth and nail over the spoils.

Such a state of affairs does not sit well with the rest of the heavyweights in the Ukrainian market, who are now determined to see a change in the current political landscape. In large measure, the actions of Yulia Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine are driven by the expectations of businessmen claiming offense at the hands of the government.

"Yanukovych is lobbying not only for the interests of Akhmetov but also for those of Russian business, which the Luhanskteplovoz affair shows," believes Vadim Karasev, the head of the Kiev Global Strategy Institute. "If BYuT and Our Ukraine succeed in getting early elections called and form a coalition that ends up holding the reins of power, the oligarchs standing behind them, i.e., Privat, will also win. That is the cost of dissolving the Rada – Ukraine as a business asset."

LEvko says the $40 million lost on the sale would have come in handy to pay for any possible snap election.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Follow the money

Article from 'Delo' business paper:

Taruta: financing re-elections - not a problem

"Possible early elections will not be affect the work of Ukrainian companies, according to the chairman of the council of the director of 'Industrial Union of Donbass', Sergey Taruta. IUD is of Ukraine's largest industrial corporations. Taruta said: "If re-elections are assigned, then they will not increase risks for companies. We see today that the parliament and government are attempting to create a critical mass of 300 votes [in the VR], which would result in the very dangerous possibility of change in the balance that exists today for the country - a change in the constitutional base of our state. Therefore for me, as a citizen, this is considerably more dangerous than new selections ."

The head of IUD it is convinced that political forces must not fear re-elections. "Political forces must go [forward] to the elections and actually demonstrate, who of them is more popular and who will obtain majority of votes," he said. Taruta also considers that problems with financing of re-elections should not arise. "This is very small money in comparison with what we lose each day because of the ineffective management of the country," noted the IUD head.

Taruta's partner at the top of IUD, Vitaliy Hayduk, is secretary of NSDC,and is close to the president. Major industrialists in PoR are rumoured to be willing to accept early elections too. Hayduk, Taruta, Akmetov, and Yanukovych go back 'a long way'.

Also from 'Delo' yesterday - a quote from Yanukovych in a speech at the [anti] Maidan: "If the president and the opposition occupy an unyielding position on early elections, and if tension in the country reaches its apogee, then the nation should provide the deciding voice."

'Delo' suggests this will be PoR's formula for overcoming the current crisis.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Coalition deputies raid court-house

Matters in Ukraine are taking on a distinctly Ruritanian air. Today PoR, Socialist, and Communist Party Verkhovna Rada MPs raided the office of the Pecherskyi Court Acting Chairwoman, Inna Otrosh. Our old friend Serhiy Kivalov [see photo] was in the raiding party, which also included a former Olympic freestyle wrestler Elbrus Tadeyev, now a PoR deputy.

Kivalov had been in there the day before, threatening judges.

This is the fellow the VR 'appointed' late on Monday to head the Central Electoral Commission.

The raiding party stole the court's seals and the former Pechersk court head, who had been sacked by Yushchenko, Volymyr Kolesnichenko, immediately put them to use stamping documents. [Ukrainians have this 'big thing' about stamps on documents].

At the time this was going on SBU [security service of Ukraine] Deputy Chief Hennadiy Moskal, BYuT VR deputy Andriy Portnov, and the head of the Presidential Secretariat's department for law enforcement activity Valeriy Heletei were in the office. Read the story in English here.

Sergiy Kivalov is the president of the Odessa National Legal Academy. A 2.5 m bronze statue of him was recently erected near Odessa university, part of which embraces the academy. A fine role-model for generations of Ukrainian lawyers to come..

More sinisterly, "Vyechyerniye Vyesti" publishes photos of buses and 'heavies' in bullet-proof vests at a sanatorium for deaf people near Kyiv. The journalist who wrote the piece, Vitaliy Tsvid, says buses have Donetsk number plates and these guys are Donetsk anti-riot police in civilian clothes. He was not allowed to enter the sanatorium and talk to them. He accuses Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko of lying that no police units from the regions have been moved to Kiev. [Thanks Pete]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Virtual politics

BYuT is appealing to President Yushchenko, demanding that he protect the head of the Consitututional Court [CC] Ivan Dombrovskiy from the 'brutal illegal pressure' that is being applied on him by PM Yanukovych and [acting?] VR speaker Oleksandr Moroz. They want to replace him with 'their man', say BYuT.

Dombrovskiy and the CC have the awesome responsibility of making the fateful ruling whether Yushchenko's ukaz to dissolve the Ukrainian parliament was, or was not, constitional.

Some reports say that Dombrovskiy has handed in his resignation and is now in hospital, that his resignation was not accepted by his peers in the 18-seat constitutional court, and even it it were, he would still retain his CC judge status.

Meanwhile Yanukovych declared today that it was the President and his secretariat that were applying pressure on Dobrovskiy. "I was made aware today that pressure is being applied onto the head of the CC. I am aware the result of this is that he will personally submit his resignation in person. [So he's not in hospital] He is a decent person who we trusted. I have already expressed my point of view about pressure on the CC to the president. This is unacceptable. We know that the pressure was from the President's Secretariat."

The President's representative in the CC responded by saying: "There has been no kind of pressure from the Presidential Secretariat or President."

Later a representative of the CC press service denied that Dombrovskiy was in hospital at all, and stated that he is well and at work.

The CC could take 2 months to come to a decision whether Yush's ukaz to dismiss parliament is constitutional. Maybe they will never decide..

PoR VR deputy Voldymyr Sivkoych today announced that the SBU [security services of Ukraine] have received a order to arrest vice prime minister Andriy Klyuyev, as well as other officials, for organizing counter-measures to those taken by Presidential Secretariat and for blocking the working of the Central Election Commission. Sivkovych appeals to all SBU officials to adhere to the law and not to obey illegal orders.

There has been a flurry of other claims, counter-claims and denials on other matters too. In order forstall any 'possible decision by the President to introduce direct Presidential rule and a state of emergency', the VR have resolved to be ready at 15 minutes notice to attend any sitting.

But the head of the President's information service denies any suggestion that the President has prepared an ukaz to introduce a state of emergency.


ATTENTION!

We interrupt this posting to warn you that you have entered into a
zone of what Andrew Wilson calls 'Virtual Politics'.
The veracity of any statement made by any leading Ukrainian
politician or party should, from now on, be treated with
EXTREME SUSPICION,
particularly if made in a grave voice and stern facial expression.
Expect frequent over-flights of 'kachky' [canards].
Luckily most Ukrainians are equipped with efficient bull-s**t filters and are going about their daily business as usual.

Return of Frankenstein 2?

On 16th April Yanukovych is to visit Paris. The following day his is due to appear before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] in Strasbourg, where, no doubt, he will grumble about what a terrible president Yushchenko is. PACE's assessment of Ukraine's unsatisfactory progress since last March's VR elections can be read here. I don't think that he will gain much support in Strasbourg in has attempt to defy the president's ukaz dismissing the VR.

Last year's VR elections, conducted by the Central Electoral Commision of Ukraine, was, according to a recent declaration by PM Yanukovych, "characterized by democratic nature and fairness which was recognized world-wide." So why has the VR dismissed the CEC managment, replacing its current chairman with Serhiy Kivalov [see photo] - its former chairman and one of the primary election fraudsters of the OR presidential campaign?
Kivalov's dismissal was part of a complex deal, enabling a repeat second round of the 2004 presidential elections to take place during the OR. The deal included a reduction of presidential powers that came into force at the beginning of 2006. If Kivalov has now been reinstated, then the whole package agreed in December 2004 between Yushchenko, Yanukovych and Kuchma could in theory untangle. But if PoR insist that no repeat elections are to take place why bother altering the set-up in the CEC anyway? Maybe the PACE report has some truth in it.

CEC members have mounted a legal challenge to annul the VR's ruling to dismiss them; and anyhow, Kivalov has not yet made up his mind whether to take up his proposed new position as head of the CEC and give up his PoR VR deputy status [and the legal immunity it provides.] Yanukovych, Moroz and others must has spent at least 2 minutes in a VR corridor discussing this matter last night.

Both Viktors Yu and Ya met for a total of four and a half hours today..

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

S**t hits VR fan

So, Yushchenko has dismissed the VR and announced fresh elections. The VR in an immediate riposte, accepted a decree by 255 votes to 0, "On prevention of acts which threaten constitutional jurisprudence, civil order, and stability in Ukraine". VR speaker Oleksandr Moroz made it clear that parliament does not accept the president's order.

The VR also accepted a resolution by 261 to 0 to cancel a resolution of 8th December 2004 [which had been upheld by 402 VR deputies] to dismiss the then-head of the Central Electoral Commission, our old friend Serhiy Kivalov - so he is now back in charge of the CEC. The Supreme Court of Ukraine had recognised that the Central Electoral Commission led by Kivalov had falsified the results of the 2004 Presidential elections.

The VR passed a decree forbidding the KabMin to issue funds for the conducting early elections.

The bosses of printed publications have been warned that they are legally liable if they print the [the president's] 'criminal order' [to dismiss the VR]. Apparently the order has to be run in an official publication in order to be valid, even though Yushchenko had pronounced his order live on several TV channels already and posted it on the official presidential website. [Maybe the VR will now say that the presidential stamp on the document was smudged, or the president had signed it in purple ink, so it doesn't count.]

I suspect most Ukrainians will sit back and wryly watch the 'bun-fight' to come ..

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Drinking at the last chance saloon

The President's official site states that he will be conducting political consultations with the VR speaker and leaders of the parliamentary fractions on Monday 2nd April. "I want to quite say openly that I am ready to sign an ukaz to dissolve parliament. I don't need convincing of this....the parliamentary coalition is entering a system of operation outside of the norms of the Constitution."

The normally-reliable 'Obozrevatel' site has run a story that Yushchenko has already signed the ukaz, and that PM Yanukovych and VR speaker Moroz are now in Moscow consulting with Putin about announcing the impeachment of the President - but there is nothing of any of this on the Pres's official site. The president's press secretary Olena Hromnytska told 'Oboz' that he signed the document after meeting opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko for several hours. He and his family previously had also attended a Palm Sunday birch twig blessing service.

The story claims that the national state television company NTKU has refused to provide the President air-time for a live TV broadcast to the nation. Oboz were informed of this by Iryna Herashchenko, a former Presidential press secretary who is now president of the Unian press agency.

'Oboz' published what it claimed to be draft copy of the ukaz to dismiss the VR several days ago. 'The latest 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya' confirms that the draft copy is not a fake.

LEvko says that the President has pulled out of making major decisions at the very, very last minute before. Maybe he will produce the signed ukaz out of his drawer on Monday to to prove to Yanuk and Moroz that he is not bluffing..and that this time he really is prepared to 'press the detonator'..

In a TV interview today the co-ordinator of the VR majority coalition Rayisa Bohatyryova made conciliatory statements in response to the President's demands. She said that the ruling coalition is prepared not to accept deputies from other fractions until the Constitutional court makes a final decision on this matter. "If tomorrow, at our joint meeting the president clearly lets us know what he has in mind, then it will be also possible to find some kind of position and a common point of view," she said.