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State Fiscal Service – A much tighter leash required?

August 24, 2016

Last week the blog had a chat with an old friend not seen in several years – The Chatham House Rule applies.

This friends also happens to be an acquaintance of Roman Nasirov the Head of the State Fiscal Service – and the man responsible for 4 (and counting) reprimands issued to Yulia Marushevska, Head of Odessa Customs – and thorn in the side of long-standing nefarious and criminal schemes therein.

There is open warfare between Ms Marushevska (representing something approaching transparency and progress) and Mr Nasirov (representing the retarded, cancerous and corrupt old system).  Their Facebook diplomacy is bitter and barbed – as their timelines unambiguously document.

Ad hoc commentary regarding this on-going battle can be found sprinkled throughout historical entries of the blog – just use the “Search” option on the “Home Page” if interested.

Anyway, the chat revealed a Roman Nasirov that is incredibly bright, was a very good  and high earning professional in the private sector, and generally a reasonable and reliable individual – that is until he was offered and accepted the role as head of the State Fiscal Service where upon the blog’s acquaintance says of Mr Nasirov that he has become an entirely different and thoroughly odious person.  The conclusion being that he has sold his soul (for a lot of money) and continues to do so.

It happens.

Mr Nasirov is not the problem, but is the current face of the problem.  Those to whom his soul was sold are the problem.  That is not to excuse Mr Nasirov of his crimes (literally) whilst doing the bidding of others.  He is entirely responsible for the choices he has made, and continues to make.

There are of course many “interests” that would like to see Ms Marushevska sacked, yet thus far Mr Nasirov has not had the courage to do so.  To be fair, in doing so the ire of the very active activists, (not to mention militants) within the civil society of Odessa would certainly result.  The US, which is very supportive of the anti-corruption efforts made by the team led by Ms Marushevska, would also be far from impressed to see those reformist gains rolled back following any sacking.  The EU would also raise a concerned eyebrow should progress be reversed.

However the SFS under Mr Nasirov’s control is naturally not entirely focused on ousting Ms Marushevska – especially as for the time being it can, and is, circumventing her.  The ports of Odessa are also not the only area in which the SFS has a particularly cancerous touch and from where fortunes can be solicited.

The issuance – or not – of VAT is a major problem for those that have to deal with the SFS seeking legitimate refund, and also a major source of corruption for those that abuse the VAT system.

A simple example of such abuse regularly occurs within agriculture.  A “farmer” harvests 5000 tonnes of grain – although nobody ever checks – so he claims to have harvested 25,000 tonnes of grain.  This grain is placed in a number of silos and exported as part of a much larger quantity.  VAT is claimed for the 25,000 tonnes of grain that was not harvested and duly refunded to the “farmer” – with the corrupt farmer and accomplice SFS officials making millions from the fraudulent VAT returns.  A very simple method from among many far more complex schemes.

For those much larger entities, particularly reliant e-VAT systems, failure to insure the SFS gets “its share” results in being targeted by the SFS as occurred in Odessa on 23rd August – prima facie running against the current agreement between Government UA and the major taxpayers in the nation.

When the declared policy of the government is to redirect the Ukrainian economy toward the drivers of IT, and agriculture, the SFS pressuring IT and agriculture would seem to be entirely counterproductive to government policy – yet that is clearly beginning to occur.

nasirov

A reader may ponder why Mr Nasirov is not sacked considering his orchestrated efforts to frustrate any form of transparency or adhere to the governmental policy line  – as sacked he most definitely should be.

Indeed he has been “called out” numerous times by business, diplomats and civil society for his lies and nefariousness both publicly and privately, so why is he still running the SFS?  The answer naturally lies behind the grubby political curtain in Kyiv.  Not only do the corrupt in Kyiv do very, very well from the continuing corrupt money channels of Odessa, but the retaining of Mr Nasirov as head of the SFS was apparently a requirement of the Will of the People Party (an Ihor Kolomoisky production) to vote in line with the slim majority of the current coalition when it matters.

A reader may wait in excited anticipation for Mr Nasirov’s e-declaration submission of assets on 1st September (when the e-system is supposedly back “on-line” having stupidly been activated before it was fit for purpose).  Most will anticipate a work of science fiction – perhaps rightly – equal only in its plausibility to the limp excuses Mr Nasirov offers when caught actively obstructing both transparency and actual government policy.

Whatever the case it seems unlikely that Mr Nasirov can yet be removed from office despite the fact that the SFS remains an entirely unreformed and a thoroughly cancerous State institution which is seemingly out of control under the leadership of Mr Nasirov.  It remains to be seen how Prime Minister Groisman will manage to “manage” a man clearly tasked with undermining reform and prolonging the old scams.

As the very disillusioned friend stated, it was that in the private sector when shaking hands with Mr Nasirov, a deal was done – now however it seems that when shaking hands with him in the public sector, it is necessary to check to see whether you still have your watch.   Power corrupts etc.

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National Agency for the Investigation & Disposal of Assets

August 22, 2016

Having written often about the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and also the National Agency to Prevent Corruption (NAPC), there has been no mention as yet of the National Agency for the Investigation and Disposal of Assets (obtained through corruption and other crime).  That is due to the fact that the NAIDA doesn’t yet exist.

Logically however, if the NAPC is a largely preventative independent entity, and NABU is an independent investigative/prosecuting agency, questions arise regarding not only with what to do with nefariously and criminally acquired and subsequently recovered assets, but also who is to be charged with actually dealing with the disposal of those assets – transparently, legitimately and with institutional integrity.  This is the role of NAIDA – or it will be.  It’s role is not only domestic, but to interact with external actors too with regard to recovery etc.

asset_recovery

As the current methods of asset arrest and eventual disposal, to be charitable is inefficient and somewhat opaque, with $billions in misappropriated assets potentially to be subjected to arrest and disposal, notwithstanding that which already is, it would seem rather prudent to get on with creating this agency post haste.

Public selection of candidates via public applications for this agency tentatively begins in the immediate future, with the goal of an operational agency of 100 personnel by the year end.  The plan is to have a public register of what has been arrested, what has been deemed by the court necessary for disposal, what has been disposed of, how and for how much if sold/auctioned,as well as detailing what has been returned following judicial rulings – which should make it quite a popular e-register.

Perhaps bets should be placed upon whether the NAIDA register will manage to generate figures larger than the annual national budget.

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54.5% of people in Odessa……..

August 21, 2016

A friend from within the Brussels bubble sent this blog a link regarding a recent SOCIS opinion survey made in Odessa.

What caught the eye in Brussels was “In addition, according to the majority of Odessa residents, the situation is tense in the city – 54.5%.  Some 30.1% of respondents said the situation was more or less stable, 9.9% called the situation explosive and 5.5% of residents were undecided.

Eyebrows therefore raised within the EU institutions regarding the stability – or not – of Odessa based upon this quote.  After all, which policymaker these days has time to do anything more than scan a few bullet points, or at most a paragraph or two, of any document pushed under their nose?

op

Questions of methodology aside, just as important if not more so, is how exactly were the questions worded to solicit the answers given – those questions simply falling outside the time available for those struggling to find time to scan and absorb bullet points.

The exact wording of questions frames outcomes as the below satire makes clear.

Therefore how was the question worded that solicited such a response?

The question was worded thus “How do you assess the situation in….?

Those surveyed then answering Stable/Tense/Explosive/Don’t know.  Looking at the results there are no other options.

Naturally the definition of  “stable“, “tense” and “explosive” is open to personal interpretation and thus perception unless specifically defined parameters are within the possible survey answers.  In short, this blog’s understanding of “stable” may be very different to its readers etc.

Indeed there may be a multitude of reasons why somebody surveyed in Odessa may describe the situation as “tense“.

Perhaps due to the increasing militarisation of Crimea?  Maybe due to the recent “incident” as claimed by the FSB in Crimea?  Perhaps due to another significant rise in utility prices from 1st September and social friction that may result?  An expectation of a Russian offensive?  A bubbling local war between the criminal elements?  Could it be due to open political warfare between Governor, Mayor and major businessmen in Odessa?  A possible provocation on Independence Day or during the City birthday events?  Dysfunctional and/or feckless governance – central or local?  The real possibility of yet more early elections, be they national or local?  A fear of yet more subversive acts?

Any one or more of these issues may determine an answer of “tense” rather than “stable“.

That “explosive” managed less than 10% is surprising, for traditionally the people of Odessa manage to return a solid 15 – 20% survey return that is completely removed and at odds from the answers that the rest of the local constituency gives.  Indeed 15% in a survey stating that black was really white, or that the moon is just the sun at night would come as little surprise.

Again however, what are the factors that influence the less than 10% surveyed to arrive at “explosive” as an answer?  Is there a core reason, or many?  Which reason, if any, would result in the “explosive” actually exploding – and how would it manifest given the numbers attached to any specific reason?

No policymaker in Brussels has time to get answers to these questions, even if they have a mind to ask them – which is doubtful.

Perhaps worse by way of framing perception, the link sent to the blog from within Brussels only gave the results for the “How do you assess the situation in….?”  as far as Odessa was concerned.

The survey asked for two perceptions.  One for Odessa that got attention within Brussels as the results were displayed in the link, and one for Ukraine as a whole, which didn’t, as those results were absent.

The results for Ukraine as a whole were 6.3% stable, 64.2% tense, 26.1% explosive and 3.4% undecided/don’t know.

Ergo those surveyed in Odessa found the city to be far more “stable”, far less “tense” and considerably less “explosive” than Ukraine overall – yet this did not appear in what was being read by this blog’s friends in Brussels prompting the nudge about the mood and how reflective the poll truly was.

The poll maybe entirely accurate, but of course it is very subjective when considering the question and perhaps wooliness of definitions and perceptions in the answers.

The survey questions and results can be found here – and perhaps they are far more useful in understanding the local constituency priorities with regard infrastructure and institutions – notwithstanding political positioning – than they are regarding anything approaching a genuine risk assessment.

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Shawarma and the City Hall snake pit – Odessa

August 20, 2016

Vice Mayor of Odessa Oles Yanchuk is no more.  He has been removed from office by Mayor Trukhanov.

Mr Yanchuk’s crimes, both real and metaphorical, against the local constituency are numerous, and indeed for many grave.  For the past four years he has engaged in a small war with SMEs in Odessa, demolishing small trading booths, closing fast-food establishments and overseeing extortionate “fees” for entrepreneurs that according to statute include licences issued free.  Exactly what you would expect for an individual responsible for urban commerce in a city with a political class of that which Odessa unfortunately suffers.

His methods were aggressive (sometimes literally) and not confined to remaining within any food hygiene or construction permit legislation – as much seemingly occurring without as within the law.

Recently however, he went too far – several times.

shaw

(Former) Vice Mayor Yanchuk recently declared open warfare upon the much loved shawarma and its vendors, in effect attempting to make that food and fast-food outlets illegal (literally).

The assault upon SMEs/entrepreneurs – and the beloved shawrama – brought about public protests from vendors and consumers alike.

shaw 1

shaw 2

Photos courtesy of Dumskaya

Photos courtesy of Dumskaya

Indeed, it brought about the predictable satire associated with political lunacy a reader would expect from Odessa.

Further, a few days ago, he publicly objected to the changing of the street name Marshal Zhukov as required by the “decommunisation” legislation, to that of The Heavenly Hundred.  His claim was that The Heavenly Hundred had nothing to do with Odessa and therefore an alternative name for Marshal Zhukov should be found.

That the shawrama and its vendors will be saved from the idiocy of Mr Yanchuk was assured following his comments regarding the Heavenly Hundred and their alien status to Odessa, for needless to say it caused outrage, particularly among the most militant and socially active.

Mayor Trukhanov has enough problems without aggravating the militant and socially active yet more.  The Panama Papers, claims of FSB relationship, Russian passports, much decried illegal construction work, nepotism, defrauding the city budget via massive mark-ups to companies associated with himself, a public and bitter falling out with Adnan Kivan, a wily operator, and not withstanding his accepted association with serious and organised crime/mafia historically – an association that may not be as historical, but rather current to some degree – “Messrs Angert and Zhukov both of whom are now predominantly London based, have spent a lot of effort in becoming (mostly) legit.

Those such as Messrs Trukhanov and Galanternik that remained in Odessa, whilst far from legitimising all their criminal dabbling have progressed in legitimising where they can, still unable to entirely walk away.”

Needless to say Mayor Trukhanov wasted no time in ridding himself of Mr Yanchuk from the City Administration, with Mr Yanchuk’s duties will be assumed by Paul Vugelman a loyal Trukhanov ally.

Whatever the case, Mr Yanchuk chose a most bizarre way to commit political suicide many readers would agree – if he expected any response from the Mayor. which perhaps he didn’t.

This raises the question of how fire-proof and secure many within City Hall may (wrongly) believe themselves to be.  That in turn raises questions of who’s who and who looks after who, and is the City Hall snake pit entirely within the control of the notorious Mayor Trukhanov – or not?

First and foremost, the “managing” of the militant and rigorously active falls under the security remit of Vice Mayor Andrei Kotlyar – and it is questionable just how loyal/dependable Mr Kotlyar is as far as Mayor Trukhanov is concerned.  Mr Kotlyar is a Kolomoisky man and not a Trukhanov loyalist.  Thus whose interests he serves when “managing/mitigating” the militant activists is open to both question and circumstance.  In promptly removing Mr Yanchuk from office, Mayor Trukhanov insured no Kolomoisky shenanigans could occur.  To be clear, this removal was not about the activities or oratory of Mr Yanchuk, but a matter of self-preservation for the Mayor before a baying mob.

The Speaker/Secretary of City Hall, and the appointment that assumes the position of Mayor should anything happen to the incumbent is occupied by Alexander Potapsky who is a Goncharenko man.  With Mr Goncharenko being Deputy Faction Leader of Block Poroshenko within the national legislature, by extension, that makes Mr Potapsky the President’s man.

As is often the case, the keeper of all secrets/kompromat is either a lawyer or accountant – and in the case of Odessa City Hall it is Irina Popovshaya, Director of Legal – a necessary ally to all regardless of alliances, and thus a collector of dirt on everybody.

So whose man is Mayor Trukhanov?  The mafia’s man?  The Kremlin’s man?  Perhaps both?  With his history he is certainly not entirely his own man, whatever he may like to believe.

Certainly (Lamposhka) Galanternik has his man in City Hall, questioning the all-encompassing mafia label.  Deputy Mayor Shandryk, who oversees construction in the city, is Mr Galanternik’s man.  Old (and continuing) personal organised crime/mafia association between Mayor Trukhanov and Mr Galanternik clearly are not enough to prevent the requirement to insert Mr Shandryk within the Trukhanov City Hall machinery – and Mr Shandryk has caused discomfort for Mayor Trukhanov over several construction related issues/events.

Although it is possible to go on, the point has probably been made that control is not necessarily always within the grasp of Mayor Trukhanov despite appearances.  Indeed to underline that point should it be required, the fact that Oleg Brynduk is no more than the faction leader of Mayor Trukhanov’s party within City Hall, and not in a position of (official) significant influence should underscore just how many other people’s people are holding the top roles within City Hall.

Indeed it is sometimes easy to forget that Mayor Trukhanov, despite impressions, still has “interests” he has to balance within City Hall – and those “interests” personified are fairly confident in their allocated positions – often to the point of publicly ignoring Mayor Trukhanov by way of his professed policies (such as they are).  Nevertheless there are limits, few as they are, such as those crossed leading to the unavoidable sacking of Mr Yanchuk.

Indeed there have been rumours of alternative candidates to replace him if (through smoke and mirrors or criminal investigations) early mayoral elections can be forced in 2017.  Those names include Oleg Bryndyk – others being Kolomoisky’s Andrei Kotlyar, Valerie Matkovsky, Sergei Kalinchuk and Anatoly Orel.  Perhaps Michael Shmushkovich or Anatoli Urbanski despite their preference for Oblast and not City governance, could be tempted too should Mr Goncharenko decide to run his men – both have been Oblast Rada Chairman.   Maybe Mr Potapsky Mr Goncharenko’s man currently Secretary/Speaker of City Hall?

All of that said, there simply doesn’t “feel” to be any real desire to remove Mayor Trukhanov – yet.  Undoubtedly if Odessa is chosen to host Eurovision, then there will be no desire to do so until after the event anyway whilst the Ukrainian elite put on, and intensely buff, a veneer of respectability to the world peering in.  The ugliness and nefariousness of removing Mayor Trukhanov prior to that event if held in Odessa would be simply unthinkable.

Whatever the case, the events of recent days may yet guarantee the shawarma is served to thousands of hungry “Eurovisioners” next year should Odessa become the host city.

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Property rights or property wrongs

August 20, 2016

Having consistently written regarding the Odessa Port Side privatisation and its predictable failure (planned or otherwise) for all the reasons mentioned, it seems that the Ukrainian government have decided to try once again in October 2016.

This time however, circumstances will have changed somewhat.

The Kolomoisky claim (via his Nortima company) of ownership has been rebuffed by the courts, leaving only two significant issues.  Those significant issues being an alleged gas supply debt to Dmitry Firtash’s Ostchem group of companies (РГК Трейдинга to be precise) of approximately $520 million, and the original and extremely unrealistic opening bid price of $527 million.

As the Firtash debt is a matter of legal proceedings, and the courts having already dealt with the Kolomoiksy claim over the initial attempt to privatise Odessa Port Side many years ago, it leaves the matter of correcting the opening bid price within the remit of Government Ukraine.

This blog having consistently stated that the plant is worth between $300 (fair price) – $400 million (outstanding result) therefore demands that a substantial reduction in opening bid price has to occur.  An initial slashing of 30% from the original price is being discussed – and quite frankly has to happen.

What is decided upon when October arrives remains to be seen, however if there is to be any realistic chance of competitive bidding then slashing the opening bid price by 30% may not be enough.  40% may be necessary to regenerate interest from those such as Norway’s Yara Norge, US-based IBE Trade Corp, Koch Fertilizer LLC, CF Industries Holdings Inc, and Poland’s Ciech S.A who were initially eyeing the asset.

Meanwhile on 19th August Odessa Economics Court issued its judgement regarding Odessa Oil Refinery allegedly “acquired” by Sergei Kurchenko when fronting for the “Yanukovych Family” during the period that the Yanukovych regime was in power.  When “The Family” fled Ukraine, including the wanted Mr Kurchenko, Odessa Oil Refinery was arrested and placed under the “management” of Ukrtransnaftoproduct, a State Owned Enterprise closely associated with Ihor Kolomoisky’s interests.

Property-Rights

Seemingly with very little by way of documentation, the judge nevertheless ruled in favour of two Cypriot owned companies (believed to belong to Mr Kurchenko) and Russia’s VTB Bank acknowledging their claims of UAH 14 Billion – thus opening up the legal route to reclaim approximately $5.5 billion from Ukraine, and perhaps the return of the asset to Mr Kurchenko despite the somewhat lacking and questionable documentation submitted by the claimant.

Naturally strong statements are being made regarding the integrity – or more accurately blunt allegations of corruption – against the judge.  Odessa Economic Court is widely perceived to be the second-most corrupt court in Ukraine after that of Kyiv, and as there has been no significant change of judicial personnel since the “Revolution of Dignity” in 2014, there has been no significant change in the frequency or dubious/corrupt judgements handed down.

Indeed there is perhaps little solace to be found when the removal of judicial immunity finally becomes active on 30th September.  There already exists a draft law that seeks to mitigate that outcome – Ch 2, Art 59 basically provides that a judge must be forewarned of his impending arrest, thus providing ample time to disappear with ill-gotten gains.

This being one of many problematic issues within this draft law submitted by Alexie Filatov, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration.  So retarded is this draft law that a reader may ponder whether President Poroshenko knows what poor legislation the Deputy Head of his own administration is proposing.

Perhaps he doesn’t.

If he does, the question is therefore why is this legislation likely to go forward?  Is it yet another attempt by the President to mitigate and strike deals within the Ukrainian elite whilst giving the legislative structural impression of reform progress?

If not an attempt to keep all within the elite happy (relatively), then perhaps there is no intention to allow this draft to become law whatsoever, and it is an influence operation being conducted by the Presidential Administration allowing the President publicly and loudly to veto such poor legislation in order to reaffirm (or buy back) his “reform credentials”.  Among many on-going issues, most recently those credentials have suffered both domestically and internationally from the warfare within Yuri Lutsenko’s prosecutor’s empire, and also from the e-declaration farce relating to assets of public figures/servants – a debacle that won’t be fixed for a few weeks, and the resulting “issues” that eventually come to light from this fiasco will begin to appear in a few months from now insuring the matter doesn’t fade swiftly from the headlines.

It’s all rather messy.  Property rights, or property wrongs?  Wronging property rights, or righting property wrongs?

Time, as it invariably does, will tell.

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“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience” Tolstoy

August 18, 2016

Deep within the masterful and mountainous prose of Tolstoy’s War and Peace amidst comment to Prince Andrew sits the line “The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.” (Book 10 Ch 16)

They are also perhaps the exasperating of warriors too, for there are few commentators upon matters Ukrainian that refrain from swinging from outright (and justified) frustration to robust delight (again justified) and then back again.  Those moments of delight generally arriving after society and civil society – light years ahead of the political class in terms of values and direction – drag the feckless politicians over the legislative line  only then to swiftly return to frustration when the feckless do nothing to implement and enforce the legislation begrudgingly passed.

The “external friends” of Ukraine are trying to pick their battles wisely.  To break the spine of energy oligarchy is a priority.  To force the ending of subsidies (both direct and indirect) that feed the oligarchy is another.  Half completed police reform necessarily has to be completed.  The battle waging within the Prosecutor General’s Office cannot see NABU lost to the remainder of a thoroughly corrupted empire.  VAT fraud needs to end.  The deliberate sabotage and obstruction of reform would necessarily benefit from Ukraine’s “external friends” enacting their own money laundering laws upon the Ukrainian elite that actively undermines reform.

Nevertheless there is progress, albeit perceived as far too glacial by far too many both within and without Ukraine.  Thus far however, policy reversal has not occurred – perhaps the political class, feckless as it is, realises there remains far more lampposts in Kyiv from which they can swing than there are politicians to swing from them.  Thus whilst the political class remains light years behind society and civil society in terms of collective ethic, creative thinking and simple desire and will to accomplish, its fecklessness remains a constant.  Its ability to avoid self-inflicted wounds remains absent.

Nobody of note from within the Ukrainian elite has gone to jail since 2014, and they will not go to jail as long as the leadership fails to lead but instead tries to manage “interests” by continuing the practice of deal making behind the curtain.  President Poroshenko is such a manager – some will argue by necessity, others by design.  This outcome however projects a poor perception and also dramatically slows the reforms the Ukrainian political class have obliged themselves to undertake both domestically and internationally.

Thus, as one example of many, for all the necessary corruption prevention measures, and regardless of any reduction in corruption be it real or perceived, people expect to see the most corrupt of the elite jailed – not arrested, not found guilty in absentia – physically jailed, and jailed for a long time.  Half a dozen or a dozen incarcerations will go a long way toward a return of trust and also electoral support.

The greatness of those two strongest of warriors “Time” and “Patience” thus diminishes and with that rises the spectre of populism to fill the void.  Indeed these two warriors arguably do not work in harmony but against each other, for does not time wear away patience eventually?  It is not what a politician says, but what a constituent hears that matters.  Fighting emotion with facts and figures does not always result in logical outcomes.  Populism is a domestic enemy of Ukraine as potentially as great as corruption.

As such the next elections for both President and Verkhovna Rada present not a choice of political personality or party, but a choice between a slow plod with continued nepotism and policy sabotage along a centralist path toward sustainable and consolidated goals, or a populist disaster that would manifest within months.

It may or may not be that new Verkhovna Rada elections would bring about a “reformist mass” strong enough to beat down the oligarch party backers and old-school grubby party leaders, for to be sure almost all party lists will still be filled with the most odious and corrupt, the sly and the feckless, led (overtly and/or covertly) by the same long-since discredited self-serving faces and egos.

tolst

Will patience or time win the battle over early Verkhovna Rada elections?  Will the result chose populism of plodding centralism?  Will sections of the electorate get what they want, but not what the entire electorate needs?

Likewise the war in eastern Ukraine is now a war of exhaustion.  It is not a war of attrition.  Patience and not Time perhaps the strongest warrior that stands alongside the Ukrainian military in the eastern regions.

To the south, the return of Crimea is clearly not within Ukrainian military capabilities – and it is not a solution either considered in public nor in private by policy makers.  Same policy makers do not believe that the passing of President Putin dictates its return under another Tsar either.  Whilst the official narrative is that when Ukraine modernises and reforms Crimea will return of its own accord, considering the ever-growing Russian militarisation and ever-increasing spook presence on the peninsula even if the population wanted to, it would seem highly improbable unopposed.

Indeed having spoken privately with those that sit within governmental committees tasked with “Crimea”, the thinking is that its return will come with the fraying and disintegration of the Russian Federation (if that happens), but that decay  is something that is unlikely to begin with the peninsula – beginning elsewhere.  Needless to say, any fraying or disintegration will probably cause many problems for neighbouring States – and beyond.   Nevertheless with regard to Crimea those to strongest of warriors will be Time.

Rome, it is said, was not built in a day.  The new Ukraine, however that will eventually look, clearly will not be either.  The evolutionary path over than of revolutionary was chosen.  It may be 10 years, maybe a generation, before a values based nation is consolidated and irreversible.  Where parliament sits above president.  Where equity before the law is routine and not headline news.  It will prove wise to have both strongest of warriors, “Patience” and “Time” man the ramparts – but perhaps on different fronts and/or appearing in different battles – be they outward or inward facing when called upon to do their duty.

Meanwhile, as the 25th Independence Day approaches, a modern nation whose identity is now forged in blood and war over values and direction is forced to fight one bullet, one skirmish, and one battle at a time both in reality in its east and also metaphorically within (and perhaps against) the Verkhovna Rada under the gaze of Tolstoy’s strongest of warriors – who will eventually come good.

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Data accessibility – Apps4Cities competition

August 16, 2016

About a week ago, whilst sat with a friend (and soon to be business partner) fluent in those strange tongues of Java, C++ and other exotic yet unintelligible languages that produce Microsoft Ukraine winners,  the blog tentatively mentioned the fact that an “Odessa App” would be a rather good idea – particularly if the city emerges as the Eurovision host.  (“Tentatively mentioned” owing to the fact that keeping said friend (and soon to be business partner) concentrating on our mutual project was and is the priority.)

Some ideas were tossed about.

The issue was raised simply because the City and Oblast are particularly bad at communication both with each other, and perhaps more importantly with the local constituency.  Indeed “communication” is perhaps the wrong word when mentioning local government for it implies to many a two-way interaction.  It is more accurate to state that both City and Oblast are particularly bad at information and its delivery.

That said, our “tossing of ideas” covered far more than communicating Odessa local governance issues via an App. – nothing quite so dull.

App

Nevertheless, and by coincidence, 16th August witnessed the NGO OPORA announce an “Apps4Cities” competition.  What’s more there is a small $5000 incentive for winner(s) – not much, but a financial incentive nonetheless.

OPORA are certainly on the right track for expecting local governance to provide sensible solutions to their own woeful communication is folly – they can’t even communicate with each other.

Hopefully there will be a qualitative response.  It will be very interesting indeed to see just what solutions are offered by a very creative civil society and IT community now well used to filling gaping voids where governance fails. – and where governance fails the most is effective implementation and communication.

Expect some very smart solutions to be offered!

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