Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ukraine's politicians in major TV debate

Watch yesterday's unprecented 4 hour TV broadcast on overcoming the economic crisis facing Ukraine, in which virtually all of Ukrainian political 'big beasts' took part, here

A nice resume here

There is plenty for body language experts to analyse in the broadcast. The seating arrangements, as others have noted, were absurd. Government and opposition should be afforded equal status - Viktor Yanukovych, who is leader of the largest parliamentary fraction, should not have been sitting in the 'cheaper seats'. The president, from now on, may be nick-named emperor Viktor Napoleonovych..

In my view the programme's producers should have included unbiassed analysis and background on the current global economic crisis, and how this affects Ukraine for its viewers, before the debates took place.

The glitzy studio set contrasted sharply with amateurish visual aids presented by some of the politicians.


elmer said...

I took the plunge and watched the whole thing. WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW - where to begin.

First, this was a conversation which could and should have taken place in about one-half hour. But, as usual, the Ukrainian tendency to talk, talk, talk, talk came out. So be it.

Second - even when Ukrainian agree - they still find every which way they can to disagree!!

They all agreed that there is a crisis, both economic and political. They all agreed that there needs to be a unified plan of action to deal with the economic crisis - for the good of the nation and the PEOPLE, the "man in the street." This is significant, because this was based on a discussion of the fact that the president has no powers to interfere with the central bank, and how oligarchs have managed to cart bushels of money offshore, while paying extremely low wages to Ukrainian workers.

Tymoshenko, Yatseniuk and Yushchenko clearly stated that they have kept their money in Ukrainian banks, and that they weren't making a run on the bank to withdraw their deposits.

I did not hear the same thing from anyone else (well, I think Lytvyn also said the same thing).

Then there was the finger-pointing, which the hosts tried their best to prevent - but which, actually, I think was quite good and quite necessary.

That includes Yanukovych making off with a HUGE amount of land when he left the government as prime minister, and others making off with entire businesses - at virtually no cost --- when they left government. This was primarily directed at the Party of Regions, and Yanukovych and Azarov did not seem to be bothered by this HUGE corruption.

Even Semeniuk, the head of the privatization fund, agreed with Tymoshenko that businesses which had been stolen, which had been privatized on the basis that they would keep jobs in place, should not now be given more bailout money. Rather, because those investors failed to re-invest in the business, and to keep up with their agreement to keep jobs in place, those businesses should now be re-privatized.

Massive layoffs came up - which is mainly a problem for the Party of Regions.

But, as Semeniuk pointed out in an impassioned segment, each party has its own set of oligarchs, its own faults and sins.

Yushchenko really hammered on Azarov, giving him an economics lesson, and some economic history, reminding him of Ukraine's hyper-inflation in 1993.

It is clear that Yushcenko, Yatseniuk and Tymoshenko are very well-versed in economics.

It is equally clear that Azarov and Yanukovych are not.

Probably the last hour or so was the best, when all the dirty laundry came out in the open, and there were some heated exchanges about corruption, and accusations about who was in power when, and who failed in government, and when.

Best of all was Yushchenko's speech at the very end. Yushchenko is one of the most MADDENING figures I have ever seen. How can a person be so right on principle, and so stupidly wrong on politics?

His speech at the end was superlative, excellent, dynamic, outstanding. It was everything you could want a President of a country to say. I can't say enough positive things about it, including his statement that Ukraine would come out of this crisis stronger than before, and that people need to unite, to listen to one another, and that the government has to work for the people, and earn the trust of the people.

How could a person be so right - and yet be so wrong?

This was indeed an excellent program, and I'm glad these guys got together to hash thing out.

PS With all due respect, I did not make anything of Yushchenko's raised platform in the studio at all - I don't think it showed him as any sort of emperor at all.

Also, I think that viewers and the people in the studio either knew the background of the global crisis, or they certainly learned it in the course of the very heated discussions, including when people were quoting Margaret Thatcher and Churchill, and referring to how things are done in other countries.

elmer said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot.

One of the politicians apologized to another for harsh words that were uttered prior to the program, and they shook hands.

Later on, Yushchenko commented that, while he appreciated that gesture, he hoped that when one shook hands with someone else, one's fingers would still be there after the handshake was over.

Sort of a good point.

elmer said...

OK, a little bit more.

We got a big lesson in fiscal policy and monetary policy - and quite a bit of dirty laundry about oligarchs and corruption came out.

It also came out openly that the judges are owned - Yushchenko himself complained about that, and about assorted people trying to "protect" the judges. Of course, he managed to dissolve courts.

The lack of an independent judiciary is a HUGE problem in Ukraine.

Yushchenko also complained that he had kept his side of every single point in the Orange Coalition agreement - but that "some people" chose to engage in "populism" instead of keeping to the agreement. (Another slap at Yulia.)

He also said that government ought not to be run based on back-rooom understandings - поняття - the exact word that Green Jolly used in the Orange Coalition song. Seems to me that Yushchenko himself ignores this advice.

Lytvyn pulled a Moroz. This conversation took place right after the majority vote in parliament for a crisis package, and Lytvyn told everyone not to take him and his 20-man bloc for granted, and that the only reason the package passed was that his bloc voted for it.

Tymoshenko kept hammering on all of the businesses and assets the Party of Regions members stole the last time they left government, and the fact that her government is investigating it and making it public. Therein lies the rub - it appears that Yushchenko doesn't want that investigated, and, of course, neither does the Party of Regions. Seems to be a big bone of contention.

No telling what kind of side deals were made between Yushchenko and the Party or Regions in that regard.

The hosts kept trying to get people to admit that there was a new coalition, which everyone refused to admit.

Why bother? Noone follows the law, noone abides by the law in Ukraine anyway. So, if several blocs or parties vote on a cooperative basis, that seems to be good enough for me, and forget about calling it a coalition.

In Ukraine's hyper-competitive, pinhead political environment, it seems to be a mortal sin to admit cooperating with anyone for the common good. Talking about the high-fallutin' principle of cooperation is one thing. Actually doing it in the open, instead of in a back room - well, Ukraine's politicians are still mud wrestlers, even when they agree with each other.

And, Yatseniuk, who seemed calmest of all, did indeed say "God willing, they'll come to their senses" (and deal with the economic crisis.

God willing indeed, I hope they do come to their senses.

LEvko said...

Thanks Elmer for your comments. Yes, it was an enlightening program. I was surprised Tymoshenko, who is a top-class debater, did not handle the attacks from her political opponents more compentently. She did say that she would try and avoid political points scoring in her responses, and probably suffered for this.

Yatsenyuk's performance was impressive. I do not think the president would have gained any more support amongst voters after Friday though..