British PM Gordon Brown is not the only major world figure doing dubious and disreputable deals with Libyan supremo colonel Gaddafi. At the 40th anniversary celebrations of the coup that brought Gaddafi to power, Ukraine's Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko was amongst the first foreign leaders to greet him.
According to the 'Independent' newspaper : "Prim and pretty with her braided hair, she seemed like a girl receiving a school prize. Her presence was among the more obvious clues as to why the rest of the world puts up with Ronald Reagan's "mad dog" of the Middle East. At least one half of the Ukrainian political establishment is desperate to break clear of its energy dependency on Russia and the political limitations that come with that."
Don't be fooled by the looks - Tymoshenko has had experience in the past of dealing with autocratic and 'loopy' leaders of oil and gas-rich countries to secure beneficial deals for her own [former] companies and for Ukrainian consumers.
I also particularly liked this story from today's 'Independent' about a 17-year-old graffiti artist who stole several pencils that formed part of a sculpture by one of Viktor Pinchuk's favourite artists, Damien Hirst. [Pinchuk's gallery in Kyiv is currently staging a major retrospective Hirst exhibition].
The teenager was arrested by British police and released on bail - he is waiting to find whether he will be formally charged with causing damage to an iconic artwork worth, wait for it, £10m! The pencils were valued at £1/2 million. [They were, apparently, in 'as-new' condition, but it is not clear whether they were the sort that have an eraser rubber at the upper end.]
'Philantropist' Pinchuk, who made his money in no small part thanks to to his father-in-law, former Ukrainian president Kuchma, has been spending millions on what some commentators regard as "not masterpieces..[but] the icons of idiocy".
Now however, the contemporary art market is in meltdown and prices are plummetting. Still, easy come - easy go I suppose.
p.s. It's an inspiration to know that the British police and legal system are ruthlessly pursuing these adolescent thieves and vandals who have no respect for art..