Monday, December 31, 2012

Lutsenko will not be forgotten

Last week I posted a blog on the second anniversary of the arrest and detention of Ukrainian former Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko's arrest.

In many countries, he would have been eligible for early release or parole, but the vindictive Ukrainian regime will keep him 'banged up' in prison for just as long as they can in the hope the case will be forgotten about.

They are wrong. His case is being closely studied at the European Court of Human Rights, and many other European Foreign Ministries are also closely following his plight.

Below is a response from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office with whom I've been in communication:

"We continue to be concerned about this case and about human rights in Ukraine.  During 2012, the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, made two public statements relating to Mr Lutsenko’s case: the first was in February following Mr Lutsenko’s conviction; the second was in July following the European Court of Human Rights’ judgement.  I have attached the Minister’s statements for your information.  [links here and here]

Embassy officials follow developments closely including by attending briefings by Mr Lutsenko’s wife and his lawyer.  We regularly raise our concerns with senior Ukrainian officials and continue to work closely with EU partners in highlighting these issues and in stressing to Ukraine the need to uphold the rule of law and respect fundamental human rights. 

Yours sincerely...

Assistant Desk Officer for Ukraine | Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Team | Foreign and Commonwealth Office | Room W2.72 | King Charles Street | London SW1A 2AH 

Lutsenko will play a major role in Ukrainian politics in months and years to come...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cheap PR scams discredit Ukraine

In my previous blog I mentioned how the authoritatively-named but entirely bogus Cologne-based outfit  'Zentrum für Interkulturelle Kooperation und Kommunikation e.V'   had recently declared: 'Sergiy Arbuzov Receives the Highest Marks of Any of the Heads of Governments or Central Banks in Eastern Europe' - news which was naturally widely broadcast across Ukraine.

Arbuzov was until recently chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine, is now deputy Prime Minister. This trusted member of the Yanukovych 'Family' is widely tipped to head the cabinet of ministers in a few months time.

A recent investigation by 'Deutsche Welle'  has now also confirmed this 'ZIKK' project to be and entirely fraudulent PR stunt.

Incidentally, 'Deutsche Welle' also describe another thinly disguised scam. The phantom Berlin newspaper "Berliner Tageszeitung" which is frequently quoted in the Ukrainian media, particularly in numerous anti-Tymoshenko articles, does not actually exist at all.  Despite extensive efforts, 'DW' have not been able to contact anyone connected with the publication - it has no telephones or faxes, or even active email addresses.

Such stunts further disgrace the Ukrainian authorities... they are just of bunch of 'zhuliki i vory'...swindlers and thieves...

Arbuzov - what a 'banker'*...

The latest edition of 'Korrespondent' contains a well-researched and detailed article on Ukraine's latest  rising star - recently-appointed first vice Prime Minister and a favourite if the Yanukovych clan - Serhiy Arbuzov. Most commentators agree that aging current PM Mykola Azarov is on the way out..and the so-far obscure 36 year-old Arbuzov will soon head the cabinet for benefit of Yanuk himself.

In the last few months of 2012 Arbuzov's podgy face wast thrust upon the Ukrainian man on the street on billboards and light-boxes across Kyiv in a two-month campaign that was estimated to cost up to $500,000.

The Ukrainian State Bank set up a television company, 'Bank-TV',  at a cost of around $1,000,000, to broadcast never-ending panegyrics in praise of Arbuzov and the State Bank which he headed.

A few weeks ago the obscure 'German Center for Intercultural Cooperation and Communication' astonishingly reported:  'Sergiy Arbuzov Receives the Highest Marks of Any of the Heads of Governments or Central Banks in Eastern Europe'

However, '' smelled a rat.  Their investigation revealed the Cologne-base German Centre was merely a highly dubious hollow shell outfit run by a Ukrainian CEO. Nevertheless their glowing reports were widely broadcast in the Ukrainian mass media to build up the young Arbuzov's image....

'Forbes' claim all of these PR schemes were dreamt up at Arbuzov's own initiative...
He loves the aura of power. When he is in Donetsk visiting his old pal - Yanukovych's elder son Oleksandr, his escort includes three vehicles filled with bodyguards...more than even Ukraine's richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov employs.

This is a serious creep...a real 'merchant banker...*'

p.s. 'Korrespondent's piece omits some of the more sinister aspects of Arbuzov's rapid ascent...

p.p.s. In rhyming cockney slang 'merchant banker' means 'wanker...'

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No leniency toward Lutsenko

Former Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, Yuriy Lutsenko was arrested and immediately detained almost exactly two years ago, on 26th December 2010.

On 27th February 2012 Lutsenko was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment at the behest of his political opponents who are now in power, on what were widely considered spurious and vengeful politically motivated charges. Criticism of the Ukrainian authorities's unjust treatment of Lutsenko emanated from E.U., the U.S. Department of State, and from many well-known international organisations.

On 3 July 2012, the European Court of Human Rights declared the arrest of Lutsenko had violated his human rights and ordered the Ukrainian government to pay 15,000 Euros compensation to Lutsenko for moral damages.

The ECHR are currently are currently assessing the entire case against Lutsenko and may well order his release sometime in 2013.

Since imprisonment, Lutsenko's health has declined and he has been hospitalised on several occasions.

In most civilised countries [e.g. United Kingdom], having served half his sentence for non violent crimes, Lutsenko would have been eligible either for early release, release on parole, or at minimum, transfer to an open prison with a less harsh regime.

But there is little chance of this occurring in Ukraine because Lutsenko's political enemies are sadists. The absence of such a humane gesture [which would undoubtedly improve their image] reveals their absolute contempt of western critics who accuse the Ukrainian authorities of unfairly persecuting  opposition leaders.

p.s. Has any reader of this blog ever heard any word of support uttered by former president Yushchenko in support of Lutsenko?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Six months for looks alone...

Introducing... Ukraine's new Minister for Regional Development, Construction and Housing -

Hennadiy Temnyk

I swear I have seen this guy on a Police Station notice board 'Most Wanted list'...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ukraine's poor image will not be repaired by slick talk

Director of the London Ukrainian Institute, Andriy Hunder, in a VOA interview, reveals what everyone knows already - Ukraine has a very poor image in the English language global mass media. He provides 'advice' on what to do to improve this state of affairs.

Ukraine has a deservedly bad image because it is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and since independence has been lead by greedy, narrow-minded and evil men with no vision. This has little to do with the country's culture, literature, or traditions.

Smart-talking PR hot-shots in foreign capitals who make their money polishing turds may make a few bucks persuading their clients to part with their money in an attempt to burnish the country's image, but this will not change anything.

Ukraine's grubby image will not improve without massive improvements in its governance.

A start could be made when political prisoners are released, prosecutors back off political opposition members and back off the already frail independent media, the president stops spending obscene amounts of money on his eleven palatial residences, oligarchic supporters of the ruling party stop carving up the nation's wealth in fixed privatisation 'sell-offs' etc. etc.

p.s. The London Ukrainian Institute offered a hearty welcome a few weeks ago to ex president Viktor Yushchenko, the man who, as a prosecution witness,  gave highly dubious testimony at  Yulia Tymoshenko's 2010 trial. Yet without Tymoshenko's unqualified support a few years previously during the Orange Revolution it is most unlikely Yushchenko would ever have made president.

One of the reasons Ukraine has such dreadful press is the blatant, widely recognised, politically motivated persecution of political opposition leaders like Tymoshenko by the current administration....aided and abetted, of course, by Yushchenko himself..

The Ukrainian Institute should make its position clear on this instead of 'brown-nosing' the discredited former president..

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A reminder of the evil men who run Ukraine..

Over six years ago [how time flies] I posted a blog about the dreadful kidnap and murder of Roman Yerokhin who was a senior officer from the main directorate of the Adminstration for Fighting Organized Crime [UBOZ].

He had been investigating a large conversion and money laundering operation linked to a Donetsk financial establishment and its alleged links to parliamentary deputies from various political factions.

Robert Stack, in his recent brilliantly researched blog, ties Yerokhin's murder to former associates of one of Ukraine's most rapidly rising political stars, the current 36 year-old head of the National Bank of Ukraine, Sergei Arbuzov.

Arbuzov, who is tipped to become Ukraine's next PM, is universally considered to have close ties with the Yanukovych family clan.

Stack's article is a chilling reminder of the nature of the guys who run Ukraine today . They have more in common with '30's Chicago than the EU. Anyone reading Stack's article will realise how far the country's leaders are from holding normal European values, and from sincerely wishing to adhere to any possible Association Agreement rules.

Why should the IMF or any other international financial institution have any dealings with such people?
Luckily, their gigantic scams are being exposed ever-more frequently.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another slap in Yanukovych's face

Less than 24 hours after announcing he will be meeting president Putin today, president Yanukovych's official site declares the meeting has been postponed...

Humiliating, or what?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Yanuk will do the deal with Putin tomorrow...

Tonight big-selling 'Segodnya' reports: " It is expected the question of the new price of Russian gas for Ukraine will be decided at Putin's residence in Novo-Ogaryovo tomorrow night [Tuesday], while at the same time the presidents of Ukraine and Russia will sign documents on the start of Ukraine's accession into the Customs Union..."

This despite frantic last minute 'carrot waving'  from European Commission head Manuel Barosso.. Your are wasting your time, senor..

[p.s 'Segodnya' entitle their link: "Yanukovych will create [sdelayet] a sensation in Moscow..."]

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ukraine is in the Customs Union already

I really liked Vitaliy Portnikov's excellent video blog today on 'RadioSvoboda', which was entitled 'Ukraine is in the Customs Union already ' [together with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan]

Here are the main points he makes:

The Custom Union is not a union of economic integration. What its members have in common is a similar economic model with the following characteristics:

No possibility of starting up a major business without the absolute approval of the president or his closest associates. Same goes for Ukraine.

Main source of income for the member countries of the C.U. is sale of raw materials. Same for Ukraine - steel, and chemicals..

Small and medium business enterprises are badly treated by the ruling authorities and not encouraged to grow and develop. All economic growth is controlled and sponsored by the government, or by oligarchic sponsors. Same for Ukraine.

Virtually all of the mass media is controlled and run by the government, or by its oligarchic sponsors. Same for Ukraine.

In other words, Ukraine is already a member of the CU - mentally, politically, economically and socially. Whether Ukraine signs an Association or other agreement with the EU will make little difference under the current administration because they have no intention of changing the rules of the game. Their sole intention in signing any possible Association Agreement is merely to maintain the current status quo.

Only when Ukraine changes internally and leaves behind its current C.U. attitudes will it be ready to sign any Association Agreement with the Europeans.

This is the harsh truth..and the Europeans should take account of it irrespective of geo-political considerations.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Forget about Europe, we're heading east...

'' in one headline today, announces

'Yanukovych has led Ukraine to the Customs Union'

In today's video address to the Verkhovna Rada, Yanukovych declared :

Ukraine will gradually join the Customs Union rules, because there are a huge market for Ukrainian goods there. We will do everything in order Ukraine has a harmonious relationship with the countries of the Customs Union,  not only in economic but also in the humanitarian, scientific and social fields.

[.."postupovo pryyednuvatymetsya do pravyl Mytnoho soyuzu"....]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind

Almost exactly two years ago many opposition deputies in parliament were seriously assaulted in the parliament plenum chamber by PoR thugs as they were staging a peaceful after-hours sit-in. No criminal action was forthcoming following these events.
[Video here]

Members of the current ruling majority should have no reason to complain therefore if blood flows again, as it did at today's first session of the new parliament. Opposition deputies will be pleased with their performance today, they have left their mark. Comments on social media sites have been supportive - opposition electors voted for 'Svoboda'. in particular too 'rattle the cage'.

The PoR deputies who mocked and humiliated the opposition in previous months, claiming: 'We toyed with them like kittens', now realise what awaits..

Video from today's session here

Judging by the performance by deputies on this 'first day back at school' I predict the new parliament will soon become unworkable.

p.s. Looking at photos from today's parliament confirms how right Jay Leno was when he said: "Politics is just show business for ugly people.."

Monday, December 03, 2012

Why Azarov resigned today

"KyivPost" reports  Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government have resigned immediately after approving the next year's budget, and President Viktor Yanukovych has, apparently accepted the resignation,

"Azarov and many members of his Cabinet were elected to parliament during the Oct. 28 vote, and had to file their letters of resignation to the president. They will still act as an interim government until the new one is approved. A vote in parliament is required to approve the prime minister, but ministerial appointments do not need such a vote..."

However, in Ukraine nothing is ever quite what is seems to be.

'Glavkom' provides a possible explanation for this manoeuvre, which is intended to provide Azarov with parliamentary immunity from prosecution for the duration of the soon-to-be-sworn-in parliament, and enable him to remain as acting Prime Minister, for quite a few months to come.

Immunity from criminal persecution is important - had Azarov's predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, been in parliament she would have been 'fireproof', but just days after her government was dismissed, criminal proceedings commenced against her. As a parliamentary deputy, Azarov can sleep easy at night for several years to come.

Constitutionally, Azarov can only hold both a parliamentary mandate and be acting PM for a period of two months, but there have been many many cases in the last few years where, by means of blatant underhand trickery, such anomalies have been allowed to remain in place.

Had he not resigned as head of the Cabinet of Ministers, he could not have been sworn in as a parliamentary deputy. This is a reason for today's action.

Update: A top PoR spokesman, the president's official spokesman in parliament, in preparation for this scheme has declared that although Azarov cannot combine two jobs according to 'the rules', this would be  permissible according to higher 'principles'.

Other serious commentators confirm the likelihood of many of the recent cabinet of ministers, including  Azarov, staying in place for quite a while in order that balance of force amongst Yanukovych's team of loyalists remains 'as is', perhaps until the 2015 presidential election campaign.