Friday, March 18, 2011

Media blackout on 'UkrTelecom' fix

Oleksandr Bondar, former head of Ukraine's State Property Fund, and journalist Tetyana Chornovil took part in the TVi channel's 'Vechir z Mykoloyu Knyazhytskym' programme tonight.

The topic under discussion was the shady, one bidder only, privatisation of the country's fixed line communications monopoly 'UkrTelecom'. [See my previous two blogs for background and more details].

The two studio guests complained of an almost total blackout on reporting or discussion of this massive privatisation in the Ukrainian mass media. TVi itself is a fringe channel, and Tetyana Chornovil's articles appear in 'Leviy Bereg' on the internet.

UkrTelecom, which employs over 30,000 personnel, is in debt. It may well be the loans were deliberately taken out and the money 'dark-holed' [as they say in England], with the intention of artificially depressing the value of the company. Now the sale has gone through, the money can be, allegedly, easily repaid.The CEO of Ukrtelecom, Heorgiy Dzekon, was in the past, according to Bondar, against any privatisation, even at a price of $2Bn. But now Yanukovych is president, he supports the company's sale at $1.3Bn.

Bondar, a parliamentary deputy, claims the talk in the VR's corridors is that UkrTelecom has been purchased by head of the presidential administration, Serhiy Lyovochkin, the entire deal being bankrolled by RosUkrEnergo's Dmytro Firtash..

Bondar adds that UkrTelecom's fixed line network is of strategic importance to the security of the country . It is used by the country's security services, police, by financial and governmental institutions etc. It is totally unacceptable that the owner of such a communications company is not officially known.
Karl Marx knew what he was on about when he said, in October 1917, "Our..forces must be so combined as to occupy without fail, and to hold at any cost, (a) the telephone exchange, (b) the telegraph office, (c) the railway stations, (d) the bridges.."

A request to investigate this privatisation further, in parliament, was declined today...The response of the president and government to this scandalous affair seems to indicate it took place with their blessing.

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