Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Misuse of power already

On March 11th President Yanukovych appointed Valeriy Khoroshkovsky as head of the the SBU, the Security Service of Ukraine. Khoroshkovsky is one of Ukraine's biggest TV and media magnates, owner of U.A. Inter Media Group Limited, and majority owner of the 'Inter' - on of Ukraine’s leading television channels. He is worth, by some estimates $2Bn. Quite what qualifies him for the the SBU job is unclear. One would think he has his hands full with his 'day job'.

Several weeks ago some of Khoroshkovsky's companies challenged in court the results of a National Television and Radio Council [of Ukraine] competition set up to distribute television broadcast frequencies. 'Inter' were granted only 20 frequencies out of 89, the remainder went to their competitors, including Channel 5 and TVi.

For some reason the SBU consider this a matter of national security and are now 'putting the squeeze' on the National TV and Radio Council, demanding copies of competition advertisements and rules, minutes of meetings, rulings etc. They are also demanding certified copies of National Council members' CV's, documents relating to their appointment and so on.

Are we going to see more of this kind of thing from the new administration? It is almost inevitable that when some of Ukraine's biggest oligarchs are to be found now in the cabinet of ministers and in other positions of great power they will use these positions for their own ends. Ironically, the new PoR-led parliamentary 'Stability and Reform' coalition depends for its existence on the parliamentary Communist fraction.

p.s. The mysterious death abroad of Ihor Pluzhnikov, the previous owner of 'Inter', has never been fully explained. Maybe the SBU should get onto the case.

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