Friday, December 30, 2011

Corruption scandals of 2011

For those who understand Ukrainian I recommend last Monday's TVi 'Znak Oklyku' round-up-of-the-year programme. Watch it here

Topics include the following resonant scandals, most of which I've written about in my blogs -

The purchase of two deep-sea drilling platforms at twice their proper price via shade offshore companies linked to companies that also provide drug money laundering services...

Yanukovych's opaquely acquired 27,000 hectare Dniprovsko-Teterivske state forestry hunting grounds - now surrounded by high fences, deep moat, control posts complete with hundreds of armed guards..

The never-ending purchase of expensive automobiles, helicopters, luxury train carriages etc. to supplement the president's motor pool..

The construction of expensive and unnecessary helicopter pads up and down the country for the president's use..

The promotion of an allegedly highly corrupt judge, Oleksandr Paseniuk, to the post of Constitutional Court judge - achieved by blatantly corrupt voting of deputies in the Verkhovna Rada. [Paseniuk was the boss of judge Ihor Zvarych who was recently sentenced to many years in prison. Head of the Ivano-Frankivsk Arbitration Court Petro Cherpy admitted he had given Zvarych $150,000, of which $140,000 Zvarych had to pass to Paseniuk, the- then head of the Supreme Administrative Court. .. a good example "Blackmail State", where blackmail is used as an instrument of state control]

And how shady offshore companies who currently rent large tracts of land are using hundreds of students and pensioners as 'pawn's. These are 'bussed' into the countryside in a corrupt 'carousel scheme' to gain options to purchase the much smaller plots into which the land is being divided up, in readiness for yet-to-be-announced privatisation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Political pundits' predictions for 2012

Several days ago emminent journalists and civic leader members of Vitaliy Portnikov's 'Polit Club' talking shop met in a central Kyiv coffee bar for an "end-of-year report/forecast-for-next-year" session .

Two-hour video of the event here

Increasing numbers of protests were predicted in the New Year. Ominously, there are reports that the salaries of some state employees in Kyiv are already slipping in arrears.

The arrest of Yulia Tymoshenko, the most significant event of 2011, became a wake-up call not only for politicians and public figures, but also for the oligarchs. A precedent has been set - her fate could be suffered by anyone, so even the richest in the country cannot feel 100% safe.

There was general agreement that inevitably, significant fraud will take place in next Autumn's parliamentary elections because the ratings of the current government [as well as that of Yanukovych himself] have dropped to worryingly low levels. Nevertheless, the competitve nature of Ukrainian politics, which Yanukovych will not be able to modify or destroy, will sooner or later force him out of power.

Like it or not, because of lack of refoms, Ukraine remains very much a part of the post-Soviet space. Recent events in Russia indicate that a lack of perspective for the future coupled with a desire for change is driving the most active members of society onto the streets. Protesters realise that without change disaster awaits and the current state structure is simply not sustainable. Despite its massive resources Russia has not been able to avoid social discontent so the likelyhood of such events taking place in Ukraine, which is in a far worse economic situation, is much greater. Economic turmoil in Europe and high cost of gas imports will only increase Ukraine's woes.

Predicted political chaos will take place when the authorities run out of money; but out of this chaos, hopefully, and new political elite may be formed.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Corruption and Authoritarianism

Below is a precis of Vitaly Portnikov's latest blog in 'Korrespondent'

After last week's failure to initial the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, Viktor Yanukovych has tried to put on a brave face on this foreign policy debacle.

Initialing the text of the documents may eventually take place in the months to come, but signing and ratification of the agreement by the parliaments of EU countries members in the current circumstances is just a pipe dream.

Clear conditions have been set by the EU in order to move the Ukraine's Euro-integration forward.

Not only does there have to be a stop the judicial system being used to prosecute the president's main political rivals, but the next elections have to be seen to be fair.

Fair elections in this context means unfettered participation by the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. This is not just about the decriminalization of articles used to convict her, but about the creation of conditions under which her name can appear in the ballot. And, of course, the government has to ensure voting and counting procedures are 'squeaky clean'.

Given that preparations for falisification are now in full swing, [without them the current ruling coterie cannot retain their power and income] further integration with the European Union can be put back for several years, if not forever.

The summit which has just taken place illustrates what happens when government agencies and institutions exist, but the state itself is absent. There is a president, but he is not really concerned with the public interest, only with his own well-being, residences, hunting lodges, helicopters, and his sons' success.

There is a government, but it comprises billionaires who are concerned only about their own security and the prosperity of their businesses. Most of the deputies in parliament share the same concerns so parliament's role is not to legislate, but exists for other purposes. There are courts, but no-one would turn to them in the hope of a fair decision. Law enforcement agencies exist but their aim is to fulfill the wishes of those in power or to provide cover for groups related to them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs can prepare agreements with foreign counterparts, but their diplomatic work is frequently in vain because of insurmountable political obstacles.

The state should primarily be about values and social control over its agencies and institutions. Neither one nor the other is apparent in Ukrainian society. That is why Ukrainian citizens continue to vote for 'big chiefs', not political ideals and economic programs - and when they become disenchanted with them they feverishly search for new messiahs.

That is why very few people in Ukraine, from the President down to an ordinary citizen, can understand what these pernickety Europeans want from them.

To release Tymoshenko? What do they want her for? - It is costing them closer ties with Ukraine. Surely it is not worth pushing Yanukovych into Russian arms for her? And was the Ukrainian judicial system less politically dependent and corrupt before the arrest Tymoshenko ? These are the questions being asked by authors of internet blogs, by opposition politicians, and propagandists for the power structures. And just setting these questions demonstrates the extent of their non-Europeaness.

There is no doubt, corruption exists in the judiciary in many countries; their dependence on the authorities can be seen in some of the new members of the European Union.

But it is quite another thing when this relationship is used to clear the political field of battle and establish an authoritarian regime. Whatever anyone may say, this is the first time this has happened in Ukraine.

Neither Tymoshenko at the time of her first arrest in 2001, nor Boris Kolesnikov nor Yevgen Kushnaryov in 2005 were leading political figures. Their detentions could give rise to resentment or excuses could be made for them, but it did not fundamentally change the situation in the country. That is why the West reacted cautiously to the arrests of officials which began after Yanukovych came to power, and even to the arrest of Yuriy Lutsenko.

But Tymoshenko's arrest changed everything because it became obvious the main intention of the new President was to deprive the people of the very possibility of choice, to remove from politics the person receiving roughly the same number of votes as himself in the last presidential elections.

This intent is what distinguishes corruption from authoritarianism; and also distinguishes Europe from the former Soviet Union, the methods and principles of which have returned in contemporary Ukraine.

LEvko's comment: The EU was created was to ensure authoritarian regimes led by dictators such as Hitler, Franco, Ceauşescu, Honecker etc. etc. would never be seen again in Europe.

You get elected, put in a shift running the country, then move on. After this it is someone else's turn. If you are in opposition law enforcement agencies and judiciary are not be used to keep you out of power. And once out of power your are not arrested for political decisions that you made.

This is a non negotiable core value in the EU - hence their reaction to Tymoshenko's treatment.

p.s. Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, the European Commission’s Ambassador to Ukraine, recently claimed he had been invited to take part in the widely viewed 'Shuster Live' programme on 14th October, but the invitation was 'pulled' at the last moment. Shuster at that time offered Pinto Teixeira an opportunity to appear on his programme in late December, after the EU-Ukraine summit. A TV appearance by the top EU man in Kyiv would seem entirely appropriate in the current circumstances, but to date, Pinto Teixeira has yet to appear on the show..

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, probably the most popular opposition politician not in custody, has been repeatedly denied access to the 'Shuster Live' show..

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Interference and threats from Yanukovych

At his end-of-year press conference today, president Yanukovych commented on the Tymoshenko investigation thus:

"I warned all those ['vykovavtsi'] involved - there was a special meeting - I warned them: you should know that society, the public, experts will be looking at this matter under a microscope..if you break the law you will be held responsible, possibly criminally responsible."

"If there is an investigation [into the Tymoshenko case] - there should be court trial, to dot the i's, as they say."

"I never would never wish to exchange [or switch] investigators or judges. I know what this is. I never, never did this and will never do this..

"I cannot interfere in investigative acts or the work of the legal system, and I advice journalists not to do so."

By calling the "special meeting" did he interfere in due legal process? Who attended? Prosecutors? Investigators? Judiciary? All of them or just some of them?" Was the meeting minuted?

Because the trial was assessed by almost all western observers as a legal shambles, will the 'vykovavtsi' be 'dealt with' by Yanukovych for the embarassment and damage they have caused to the country's reputation?

Is he admitting that he pressurised 'vykonavtsi' to stage a trial even if the investigator's evidence against Tymoshenko was unconvincing?

Or is this merely a slip - an unintentional admission he threatened 'vykonavtsi' at this 'special meeting' to: "Lock her up - do it cleanly - or I will lock you up.."?

The last of these may be the most likely. In a sneering response to a question at the press conference from 'Ukrainska Pravda' journalist Mustafa Nayem on the president's expensive rented helicopter and Mezhyhirya' residence and on connections between the companies who run them and his son, Yanukovych threatened the questioner: "What kind of a sweet life are you talking about, I do not know, and [you] discuss the topic of my family. I want to tell you.. I do not envy you..."

Chuckling, after a pause he added: "Me and you, we know each other well, understand one another. [On] the other thing, you can come to your own conclusion.." [Ostalnoye dodumayte sami..]

Havrysh's gloomy prognosis

Several days ago seasoned Ukrainian politician Stepan Havrysh was interviewed on 'Radio Svoboda'.

Until last month he was Deputy Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, which was all but neutralised by Yanukovych after he was elected president.

Havrych has been around the top politicos for many years, and although he is now out of favour with Yanuk, he opinions are nevertheless worth listening to.

Here is one portion of his interview:

R.S. How realistic will it be for the authorities to keep the socio-economic situation under control until the next elections, taking account of the second wave of the [global] crisis and problems connected to the price of Russian gas?

S.H. - There are dry and not very encouraging statistics. Our current external debt (public and private) is about $135 billion, our budget deficit - more than $30 billion. External debt - which we need to return next year, is almost $ 7 billion. Clearly, in these conditions, without external borrowing, which we are unable to do [we have a problem]. And [as] the IMF has ceased cooperating with Ukraine, this is obvious. The World Bank under these circumstances will not give any money - [and] will not help.

In 2008 there were 17 Western banks which had 40% of the banking system assets working in Ukraine. Today, most of them have left Ukraine, and capital repatriation by foreign investors continues. Notice that Euro 2012 has not attracted major European or American or Chinese investors to Ukraine. Privatization on which we rely takes place between a handful of groups who [deliberately] devalue these assets.. -

R.S. What could be way out of this situation? A change of government? Or a handover of the gas transportation system?

S.H. We stand between the surrender of key assets, and technical default. - One solution really could be selling off of the gas transport system, ie, key assets. And this solution I think, is being actively discussed by the government. The resignation of the government will give only temporary political respite, for 2-3 months, not more. The new government can do nothing without external borrowing, without significant reforms which do not exist ... We stand between surrender of key assets and the technical default of the state.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PACE calls for charges against former Ukrainian gov't members to be dropped

"The functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine" -

Draft resolution adopted unanimously on 15 December 2011 by the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe .

"1. The Parliamentary Assembly expresses its concern with regard to the criminal proceedings initiated under Articles 364 (abuse of office) and 365 (exceeding official powers) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine against a number of former government members, including against former Minister of the Interior, Mr JuriyLutsenko, former Acting Minister of Defence, Mr Valeriy Ivashchenko, former first Deputy Minister of Justice,Mr Yevhen Korniychuk, as well as former Prime Minister, Ms Yulia Tymoshenko.

2. The Assembly considers that Articles 364 and 365 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code are overly broad inapplication and effectively allow for post-facto criminalisation of normal political decision-making. This runs counter to the principle of the rule of law and is unacceptable. The Assembly therefore urges the authorities promptly to remove these two articles from the Criminal Code and for the charges against former government officials which are based on these provisions to be dropped. The Assembly wishes to emphasise that the assessment of political decisions and their effects is the prerogative of parliaments, and ultimately of the electorate, and not of the courts. It considers that that strict international standards delimitating political and criminal responsibility need to be developed.

3. The Assembly regrets the numerous shortcomings noted in the trials against former government members and considers that they may have undermined the possibility for the defendants to obtain a fair trial within the meaning of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights."

Etc. Etc

EU will not accept authoritarianism

I really liked Vitaliy Portnikov's comments on Monday's non initialling of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement posted on the Radio Svoboda site.

I've loosely translated some bits of it here:

"At today's meeting between President of Ukraine Yanukovych and EU officials what happened is what should have happened: i.e. nothing. No initialling of any Association Agreement with the EU, and no kind of free trade zone.

The real sensation would have been the refusal of Europeans to deviate from their basic principles, their willingness to solemnly initial an agreement with a country whose leaders are carefully constructing an authoritarian Lukashenkovite regime. But the expectation of some kind of diplomatic miracle was in reality a test of morality, not only for the Ukrainian authorities, but also for the Ukrainian opposition, many of whom were calling for continuing European integration in spite of "some case against Tymoshenko"; as if it was not crystal clear that to use judicial levers to settle political accounts would inevitably cast the country far from Europe.

This was a test for many civic activists who presented the same slogans and argued that the way to "educate" Yanukovych was through Europe.

This was a test for Ukrainian journalists who readily repeated and maintained such irresponsible statements. And the results of the test showed that Ukraine has no place either in Europe or next to it, and that the country has returned back to the past.

The country has returned to the past because its society and elite are devoid of moral values or any ability to resist authoritarianism. That's why Yanukovych has been successful. Tha is why Tymoshenko in jail. And if tomorrow Yatseniuk or Klitschko were to wind up in jail what would happen? Nothing. People will get agitated on the internet - and then benignly calm down.

No technical problems existed in the signing of these agreements with the EU. The only one
problem was a moral one. The problem was created by Yanukovych, but Ukrainians could solve it very easily. Had as many people gathered under the court walls as had gathered for the tax demonstrations in the capital the Ukrainian President would personally have come to release the opposition leader, and an obedient pseudo-parliament would have adopted all the necessary changes in the Penal Code.

The authorities spit on Brussels and on Moscow. They are afraid only of their own citizens. Ukrainians have merely explained to one other that they are "not for Yulia," and this is "not their war". That "those at the top are all the same". Even supporters of Tymoshenko are more comfortable holding talks in the presidential administration than addressing public meetings.

And no one wants to understand that all this is not about Tymoshenko. It's about the Soviet judicial system - about authoritarianism.That is a barrier that has descended on Ukraine's path to the civilized world. And the barrier has been lowered not in front of Yanukovych, it has been lowered before all Ukrainians. And has been lowered deservedly ."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Zero confidence in Ukrainian health service

Yulia Tymoshenko was recently filmed without her permission in a hospital prison cell while she was visited and examined by white-coated, highly-placed health service officials. The crude and distasteful piece of video 'pokazukha' was leaked and can be seen on Youtube. It shows the former PM being held in what in most West European countries resembles a normal prison cell.

She had been moved there for medical treatment as the result of pressure from European politicians. The Lithuanian president had shamed president Yanukovych into ensuring his political arch-rival had proper medical provision and was provided with what he himself called 'current European standard' prison conditions.

The state of the cell where she had been held before this, during and after her trial are not clear, but it seems it has since been 'tarted up'.

The true opinion of the president were perhaps exposed on the 'Shuster Live' broadcast last Friday by National Security and Defence Council Advisor, Valeriy Ivasyuk who said:"Yulia Tymoshenko's lawyers are exploiting the state of health of Yulia Tymoshenko in a completely unqualified and shameless manner to somehow influence the criminal process of review of the deeds committed by Tymoshenko as former Prime Minister."

He added: "Thousands of people detained inside prisons without air conditioners, and excuse me, with open stool toilets, are dying every day. Why should Tymoshenko benefit from other conditions in prison just because of her previous position?"

Was he really suggesting with this loose comment that Tymoshenko should be locked away in a medieval dungeon in the hope she dies there? LEvko thinks he was - the word sadistic again springs to mind.

The topic of the 'Shuster Live' programme was the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis. Most of the questions to the guests present, including Minister of Health Oleksandr Anishchenko, concerned schemes for public procurement of medicines which are generally considered highly corrupt.

At the end of the show the audience were asked whether they believed the government would now be taking [positive] measures in the fight against tuberculosis. Astonishingly, 100% of the audience responded negatively. Not one member of the large audience showed any confidence the authorities would do anything to alleviate the problem of TB in Ukraine.

Ukrainian state healthcare is a dead duck..

p.s. Foreign minister Konstatnyn Hryshchenko, on last Friday's Yevgeniy Kiselov's talk show looked as if he had sh*t his impression is he knows what a national disaster Monday's non initialling of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will turn out to be, and he will be soon be getting the sack...He is probably clearing his office desk - and siphoning gasoline out of the company automobile already...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

High farce [and fence] at Kyiv Court of Appeals

One of Yulia Tymoshenko's main defence attourneys, Mykola Siriy, was today prevented from entering the Kyiv Court of Appeals building where an appeal lodged by Tymoshenko against the verdict on the Russian gas supply contract case was being considered.

The former PM did not attend the hearing because of ill health. BYuT fraction parliamentary deputies were also denied admission despite their constitutional right as deputies, to do so.

Later, Siriy told journalists: "Five minutes before the hearing [was due to begin] I was not allowed to enter, [and] none of the police officers could explain anything. The only way I could participate in court proceedings was to climb over the fence. 'Berkut' special forces began pulling me off whilst the deputies helped me. They wouldn't let me get off on the other side so I had to jump. But the main thing here was not the "flight" of attourney Siriy, [see photo] but rather the closed nature of the trial".

Also about 1:40 minutes into this video.

He added that, fortunately, he did not suffer any injury, and almost immediately after jumping the fence he went into the court hearing.

This appeal hearing will be as farcical as Tymoshenko's trial earlier this year.

Yesterday I blogged about the Ukraine's Minister of Justice 'swanning around' in a Mercedes SUV stolen in Germany by a gang of smugglers. Today, a distinguished lawyer is seen jumping over a high court fence. No wonder the country is considered to be a joke..

p.s. The next session of the Kyiv Court of Appeal is scheduled for...20th December...the day after the Ukraine-EU summit, when, most likely, the Association Agreement will not be initialled. Some kind of fig-leaf 'agreement' will be offered up to avoid complete fiasco..

Everybody knows ratification by European parliaments is improbable for years.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ukraine's Minister of Justice and a 'stolen' Merc

Big-selling German popular newspapers have recently been running a story about Ukrainian Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych and his top-of the range Mercedes GL 420 SUV - that was reported stolen in Germany in January 2010.

The vehicle is currently being sought by Interpol as part of a wider investigation into criminal racketeering.

Lavrynovych is a stooge of Yanukovych whose star is now in the ascendant following Yuliya Tymoshenko's trial and imprisonment.

The scandal in which his is embroiled came to light as a result of a feud between Lavrynovych and PoR parliamentary deputy Valeriy Konovalyuk.

Konovalyuk 'ratted' on him to Interpol after they had tangled over a shady business deal involving a German company and the supply of state-of-the-art ID cards and other documents. Well over $100 million from state funds may have 'gone adrift'.

German authorities claim huge numbers of vehicles are stolen to order in their country every year for customers in Eastern Europe. If they are intercepted and impounded at the Ukrainian border, instead of being returned to their rightful owners, Ukrainian courts 'legalise' their theft by impounding them and allowing them to be 'passed on' to the 'right people' - like Lavrynovych.
On 14 April 2011, the Ukraine's traffic police registered the Mercedes in question as the property of the Department of Justice.

Meanwhile members of the criminal car-smuggling gang who stole Lavrynovych's merc have been sentenced to five and nine years in prison in Germany..

[Nice photo of Lavrynovych - [that's L-a-v-r-y-n-o-v-c-h] at this link just make sure all western law enforcement agencies 'clock' him]. And a photo of him getting out of his 'panzer wagon' here ]

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Preparing for the worst?

German ambassador to Kyiv Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth posted a significant article in today's 'Ukrainska Pravda'

Here are a few quotes:

"Today the EU finds itself before the question - Will it be possible to conclude an Association Agreement with Ukraine before the end of the year..and this at a moment when serious doubts have sprung up in the EU whether the Ukrainian leadership is truly sincere in its statements on European integration? Doubts are growing daily...

Trials and increased application of arrests of former members of government, are just the tip of the iceberg...other concerns are daily being added: pressure on enterprises from security organs, searches of lawyers' offices, pre-trial detentions, fabricated trials, placement of loyalists into all possible positions etc.

Germany and its partners cannot close its eyes to the development of such events.

All the major political forces in Ukraine wish to conclude an Association Agreement. But those who know the European Union can see that desire itself is not enough to open the way to an Agreement...

If the leadership of Ukraine continually treats with contempt the concerns of the EU and leading European politicians then the country cannot count on success in the EU. This applies both to Kyiv and to other European capitals.

Only after the decision of the Council of Ministers, that is by a consensus of all members of the European Union, will it be ready to sign the Association Agreement and implement procedures for ratification in its parliaments.

For this [to happen] there should again be a dominant conviction that Ukraine is really striding along the path of European integration. And there should be clear steps [made] in this direction.
Every Ukrainian should understand: the path to the EU along which Ukraine will either set out or not set out, entirely and totally depends on the Ukrainian authorities and Ukrainian people.
If the Association Agreement won't be signed, the reasons for this should be sought in Ukraine and in the political authorities."

It all sounds like groundwork for failure..

But Yanukovych is doing his utmost to achieve failure too.

Ukrainian parliamentary ombudsman Nina Karpacheva declared yesterday's grotesque 12 hour court session in Yulia Tymoshenko's prison cell, complete with judge in robes, prosecutors and bodyguards was not in accordance with Ukrainian law. "Today any out-of-court session, especially in a investigative isolator cell is a brutal transgession of state law, and point 1 of article 5 of the European convention of human rights." Tymoshenko has been bed-bound for several weeks with a serious spinal condition. European observers have been aghast at such barbaric behaviour too.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

EPP Congress Resolution on Ukraine

EPP Emergency Resolution on Ukraine here

"should any essential and fundamental principle of the Association Agreement be ignored or violated by Ukraine, the EU should develop a mechanism for a temporary suspension of the whole AA"

Will these be just bits of paper?

Because of their inability and impotence in dealing with the looming Euro crisis, the EU may act firmly on Ukraine in order to show they can still 'mix it' and still have 'b*lls. Events in Moscow only encourage such action.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tymoshenko remains centre-stage..

This was the order of speakers at today's session of the 20th European People's Party Congress in Marseilles :-

-EPP President/Président du PPE Wilfried Martens
-Prime Minister of France/Premier ministre de la France François Fillon
-Ms./Madame Eugenia Carr-Tymoshenko....

Eugenia Carr-Tymoshenko received a standing ovation for her speech which included a call for sanctions to be applied to members of the Yanukovych regime...[Congress proceedings were streamed live... ]

According to today's 'Deutsche Welle', German experts doubt that the Association Agreement will be signed at the Ukraine-EU December summit.

"[Human] Rights violations in the Tymoshenko trial haves led to a number of EU countries to now being opposed to signing of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Experts spoke of this at a [recent] conference in Berlin."

In response, a Kyiv court ruled fresh court proceedings could take place directly in the "investigative isolator" cell where Tymoshenko is imprisoned. She is currently bedridden - suffering from a ruptured disc in her spine - too ill to be transported to a courthouse.
[Deputy prosecutor general Renat Kuzmin claims the conditions in her cell are better than in a hotel room. More from f.n. on this horrible man and his boss Pshonka here]

Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Nina Karpachova called the situation "unacceptable" and contrary to European norms and conventions..

What are these sadists trying to prove? They are rational politicians so it is reasonable to assume this premeditated, dare I say medieval behaviour is a signal by the authorities.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

British Ambassador's clear message

I really liked British Ambassador to Kyiv's recent brief, pertinent speech in Donetsk.

Read it here

"....That is why the UK and other EU member states have made clear that, unless opposition leaders imprisoned as the result of flawed trials are freed from detention and able to take part in political activity, it is unlikely that EU member states will sign and ratify the Association Agreement and DCFTA.

If this situation persists, and Ukraine is unable to reap the immense benefits of the Association Agreement and DCFTA, this will be a catastrophe for Ukraine.

Rather than being on a steady path towards greater European integration, the country will risk being stranded in a grey zone between the EU and the former Soviet Union.

It doesn’t have to be like this"

But maybe Yanuk and co. think being in the grey zone is o.k.?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Investigative journalist exposing Ukrainian corruption receives award

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about 'Ukrainska Pravda's' exposure of corrupt links between First Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev and president Yanukovych himself.

Their articles reveal how First Vice Prime Minister Klyuyev allocated state aid from the Ukrainian budget for the benefit of his Austrian-registered 'Activ Solar' business.

The final owner of the Viennese 'Activ Solar' is a Liechtenstein-registered trust that is the nominal owner of Yanukovych's 'Mezhyhirya' palace and also owner of his extensive hunting grounds and lodges in Sukholuchchi near Kyiv.

Several days ago one of 'U.P's authors, Serhiy Leshchenko, received a prestigious award from the Polish Reporter's Foundation, in the presence of the Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski, for his work.

Leshchenko, in his blog, informs readers that well-known shit-stirrer Mykhalo Brodsky, who now works for Kluyev, has started a cheapo campaign of invective to discredit him and other 'U.P.' reporters..

Naturally Brodsky does not challenge any of the solid evidence produced in the 'U.P' story - is this because the award-winning piece of journalism is all true?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Yanukovych's attitude to life's unfortunates exposed

From today's 'Independent':

Elton John: On the streets with Ukraine's lost generation

A mixture of intolerance and opportunism threatens to deprive Kiev of the one institution that offers hope to its thousands of young people with HIV

"a searing indictment of President Viktor Yanukovych's attitude to the disease and its victims..."

p.s. Before countries like Ukraine can join the European Union they have to prove certain things: They must show that they treat their people fairly, respect their human rights. and allow them to vote in elections for the politicians they support. They must show their economies are properly run, i.e. their government is sensible about the amount of money it spends and does not interfere too much in the way people do business.

The failure of President Yanukovych and his government to convincingly satisfy the first demand, precisely at a time when they should be "on their best behaviour", is the reason why some of the EU's leaders are reluctant to initial Association and Free Trade agreements at the EU-Ukraine summit on December 19.

If initialling does take place, Yanukovych's conviction that the EU is not really serious about European values will be confirmed. Oppression of opposition politicians, roll-back of democracy, concentration of power in the hands of a tight-knit band of his Donetsk associates will inevitably grow.

If some EU countries are sceptical about the desire of Ukraine to improve its performance on human and political rights or on battling corruption, or if they do not wish Ukraine to become a member of the EU in the foreseeable future for whatever reason, they should 'come clean' on this and stop wasting everybody's time.

In truth, the problem of Ukraine is as nothing for Europe's politicians compared with the massive looming financial crisis in the Eurozone. Its repercussions will almost totally occupy the minds of EU politicians for many years to come.