"Justin Rowlatt, of the BBC World Service "Business Daily", reported last Friday from Ukraine on the problems of its economy. He talked to ordinary families about rising gas prices, and to business people, big [Petro Poroshenko] and small, about corruption and bureaucracy.
[18 minute long audio clip here ]
Rowlatt puts their concerns directly to the country's President Viktor Yanukovych, who defends his government against charges that corruption is present at the highest level.
Yanukovych accuses members of the opposition of paying lobbyists, both at home and abroad, to promulgate the view that they are victims of political persecution."
A much fuller version of Yanukovych's rather arrogant interview [in Ukrainian] can be heard, and read here.
Qu. You hear from businessmen who took part in [recent] protests they feel they could be persecuted. Then you see a fence around the main square of the capital - and you say protests harm the image of Ukraine. Do you want to say that you do not want to see demonstrations of people who are distressed by what is happening in Ukraine?
A. I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm not scared of anything. I think I do not resemble a person who is frightened. Do you think that I look like someone who is frightened? I won all the elections which took place in the last 5 - 6 years, including the elections of 2004....democracy should be based on the supremacy of the law, freedom of speech, defence of human rights. It's a totally different matter to hide behind democratic slogans, hiding corruption and bureaucracy behind these slogans. I'm talking about these matters - and what are talking about?
Qu. But those elections in 2004, which you say you won, were declared to be dishonest by the Supreme Court, wasn't that so?
A. The commentary of lawyers confirm that the decision of the Court broke the laws of the Ukrainian Constitution. All subsequent elections that took place since 2004 were convincingly in my favour and my team - my political force.
LEvko's says: Can comments of lawyers override the Supreme Court? Just like that?
2010 presidential elections Yanukovych 12,481,266, Tymoshenko 11,593,357
2006 parliamentary elections: PoR 186 seats, BYuT 129 seats, NU 81 seats.
2007 parliamentary elections: PoR 175 seats, BYuT 156 seats, NU 72 seats.
Ukrainian politics is frequently peppered with sinister undertones and nuances. Independent journalist Olena Bilozerska has posted in her blog a piece entitled: "Who is threatening Yanukovych with death? She describes and article in the Akhmetov-owned "Segodnya" and posted on its website.
Here are portions:
"The Phantom of the Kiev Opera
He came to power, having the support of many millions, and with slogans of stability and reforms. Having established stability and started reform, he betrayed those who supported him for the sake of "national unity". And five years later he was killed by those with whom he sought union, having support from nowhere else. He is buried in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.
This is not a utopian story about the near future - it is the story of the great Russian reformer Pyotr Stolypin. The finale of his drama unfolded in Kyiv a hundred years ago, in 1911. And every Kiyevan can go to the opera house to see where the Russian prime minister was killed by anarchist student Bogrov, the Maidan, where a monument to him was erected, or the Lavra, where his grave is located.....
..This is all history. But this story shows that everyone who comes to power and turns his back on those who supported him, comes to a bad end... "
Everyone knows Yanukovych fearful of being killed.
This from Taras Chornovil, from the series of "OstroV" interviews I've mentioned in my previous blogs:
"It is a Stalinist type of psychology, when a person fears everyone..I would not like to find myself in his [Yanukovych's] skin - he constantly worries all the time about assassinations..In actual fact there were several attempts to kill him. He himself told me how they wanted to poison him..."
Chornovil says that those around the President constantly play on his fears..He is constantly surrounded by security men and drives around in large convoys of vehicles. Even on his recent trip to Davos, he was escorted by about a dozen 'bone-crushers'.
It beggars belief that the "Segodnya" article was not run without serious consideration. What was it's aim? A shot across the bows of "The Family"?
"Do you think that I look like someone who is frightened? ...Hmmm..
p.p.s. To rise to the top of Ukrainian politics it helps to have survived an assassination attempt, or to have been in prison, or preferably both...
p.p.p.s. Is the above the Ukrainian version of the horse's head in the bed? Or the package of dead fish? Maybe I'm getting carried away here...