Archive for July, 2009

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Just Way Too Busy Again Today…….

July 31, 2009

Just way too busy again today……but something a little more interesting for some to look at from here in Ukraine…..until I have more time for an insightful……or not……post…….

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For the rest of the photo’s from the highly intellectual Kyiv Post, click on the link. 

As a disclaimer, I would state that this particular newspaper……well it struggles on the “news” part.

http://www.kyivpost.com/gallery/579

……..Oh and yes, of the small percentage of what they print which is believable……you are right, it is hardly unbiased reporting!!

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Eh?…….Where’s Today’s Post………..

July 30, 2009

Too Busy

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Ukraine Gets $3.3 Billion More From The IMF……

July 29, 2009

Sorry dear readers, yesterday was the good lady wife’s birthday…….so today I am a little “tender” and really cannot be arsed to do an in-depth assassination on who said what and why here………

Fortunatley the IMF have saved my aching head and approved another $3.3 Billion with the following statement:

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed today the second review of Ukraine’s economic performance under the two-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), and approved the immediate release of the third tranche under the arrangement of about $3.3 billion. This will bring total disbursements to about $10 billion.

With the completion of this review, the Executive Board also approved the modification of a performance criterion on the fiscal deficit in response to a broadening of the fiscal deficit target to include the deficit of Naftogaz.

A $16.4 billion loan to Ukraine was approved on November 5.

Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr. John Lipsky, First Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said:

“Financial stress has eased in recent months and Ukraine’s current account is adjusting rapidly. At the same time, the fall in output is more pronounced than expected, which has necessitated further significant policy adjustments. The revised economic program continues to seek to mitigate the effects of the global crisis, restore confidence in the banking system, and preserve fiscal sustainability, while protecting the most vulnerable segments of the population.

“To cushion the impact of the sharper economic contraction and to reflect the imbalances of the state gas company Naftogaz, the revised economic program targets a broadened fiscal deficit. Corrective fiscal measures and structural reforms are a priority to ensure fiscal sustainability and to avoid crowding out of private sector borrowing. The authorities have reduced nonpriority expenditures as well as taken a number of steps to restore viability in the natural gas sector. A key step is a schedule of natural gas price increases to bring domestic prices in line with international prices. Vulnerable households will be protected by a better targeting of the social safety net programs. The authorities are also moving ahead with a strategy to strengthen the financial situation and transparency of Naftogaz. Plans for pension and tax reforms in the context of the 2010 budget will also help entrench fiscal sustainability and reduce fiscal financing needs.

“The monetary policy stance is adequate. The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) will closely monitor developments in monetary aggregates and stands ready to tighten its policies if inflation or exchange rate pressures were to reemerge. The NBU has also taken measures to increase currency flexibility in both directions, including by amending regulation to allow foreign exchange forward transactions. Further progress in this area will help Ukraine to adjust better to external shocks, discourage dollarization and excessive risk taking by unhedged borrowers, and allow monetary policy to focus on inflation objectives.

“Restoring confidence in the banking system, which is essential to facilitate the economic recovery, remains a key priority. Recent important steps include the recapitalization of the systemic banks, the decisions taken with regard to two other banks, and the adoption of legal amendments to enable the resolution of nonsystemic banks.

“The authorities plan to phase out remaining import restrictions in line with their commitments under the program.

“Going forward, close adherence to the program will be key to create the conditions that facilitate an expeditious economic recovery,” Mr. Lipsky stated

……….Ok….that’s it from me today.  The usual drivel will resume tomorrow.

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The Ukrainian Government Has A Plan For Labour Until 2017……..

July 28, 2009

Well, dear readers…….it is fortunate I was sat down when I read this………as the words Ukrainian Government + the words plan…….are not only an oxymoron but also used together in a sentence about as often as buying a genuine Rolex for $10 from a street trader…….unless of course the sentence goes along the lines of “I see the Ukrainian Government has not f*cking plan…….again!!”

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So, you can imagine my surprise…….no, surprise is an understatement……..you can imagine my shock, when I read the headline “Government approves strategy for development of labor potential“……they don’t have a plan……it’s even better they have a “strategy!”

Eh?………You want to know about the “strategy”?……..Well here is the cut and paste announcement from the Government website……..

Government approves strategy for development of labor potential
The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a strategy of the national social program for the retention and development of labor potential until 2017.

The implementation of the program is expected to reduce qualitative and quantitative disproportion on the labor market. The number of employed people is expected to grow by 500,000 or one million. The drafting and implementation of this program is expected to help reduce the number of industrial accidents, decrease the level of professional disease, and bring life expectancy in Ukraine closer to the level of European Union countries.

…….Yeh….it is a bit of an anti-climax I know.

  From what I can see from the details given……..the plan is to prevent 500,000 to 1,000,000 deaths and serious injuries….. so serious they prevent working ever again….. in the workplace between now and 2017.

Now of course being IOSH qualified……..OSHA being the American equivalent……..it is a laudable goal………because, as we know, every accident or near miss in the work place is avoidable………

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…….but this is the sum total of the “strategy”?  Hardly the complete answer to the problem people!!

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You May Remember Me Saying Ukraine Banned All Gambling…….

July 27, 2009

Now then dear readers……..you may remember not so long ago……..You don’t?……Better start writing things down then……..that Ukraine had banned all gambling in the nation.

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This was soon followed by Russia……although it had been going through the Russian parliament since 2006…….unlike Ukraine who banned it immediately after 1 fire in a fruit machine hall which killed 9 people…….anyway, it’s all there should you be arsed to use the search facility on my blog!

So…….why have I returned to the subject as gambling is now banned throughout Ukraine and Russia?

Well, the European Poker Tour was scheduled to play in Moscow between 17 – 23 August……..but it can’t now, because all gambling is banned in Russia……so where is it going to be played instead?……..

Yep, you guessed right, it will be moved to Kyiv, Ukraine…….despite the ban on gambling……and will be held on those dates in the Kyiv Sports Palace.

No……I am not pulling your pisser……despite Ukraine banning all gambling the European Poker Tour will be held in Ukraine under the watchful eye of The Ministry for Youth, Family and Sport.

Why can this be?……..Because unlike Russia who classes Poker as gambling…….because it is……..Ukraine classes it as a “sport”…….it is just not gambling…..like pontoon, (blackjack by another name), roulette, craps, bingo and all the other gambling games which are banned.

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Are you….. like me…..thinking WTF?

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I Blame The Mongol Empire As Does History – But Apparently President Yushenko Thinks I’m Wrong!

July 26, 2009

Well dear readers, what to say about this?

My Dad always said to me, unless you want a heated debate, stay away from politics and religion……and what ever you do, never mix the two because it will simply polarise everybody involved and debate will erode into affray.

Now, obviously, he said that to me many times when I was young…..and as Winston Churchill said, “If you were not a liberal when you were young, you had no heart.  If you are not a conservative when you get old, you have no brains”……so being of a more liberal disposition when he told me these words of great wisdom, I tended to ignore it……such is the impertinence of youth.

And of course, Winston Churchill was right too……as you get older, you tend to want to conserve the morals and dogmas from days gone by…..rather than be subjected by the liberalism in the hearts of today’s youth which is abrasive to our once liberal…..when we were younger……now conservative as we are older, views…..but our views are now slightly “passe” idealisms for today’s youth.

Anyway, going back to what my Dad said about never mixing politics and religion as all it does is polarise people to the point of maladjusted positions or impasse in their views where there is absolutely no room for compromise or even discussion……it would seem, good old Viktor Yushenko, President (and politician in the loosest possible sense) could have learnt from my Dad as I did…….as he is now intent on interfering in the Orthodox Church.

Somewhere way back in my posts, there is a summary of the history of the Orthodox Church in this region……the fact that Orthodoxy in Ukraine and Russia was once under the guardianship of Constantinople…….which is obviously not even Slavic, let alone Ukrainian or Russian…….and a regional HQ was set up in Kyiv……only to be relocated to Moscow when the pesky Mongol’s were running around raping, pillaging and murdering……the move, to ensure the continuance of the Orthodoxy in this region.

Eventually Constantinople was overrun and because the Orthodoxy HQ had been relocated to Moscow out of the way of the pesky little Mongol’s……the orthodoxy of the region became autonomous and 100% self governing…….and simply due to the location of the HQ in Moscow at this particular time, it became the Russian Orthodox Church and not Ukrainian Orthodox Church…..thanks to the Mongol Empire……and not a conspiracy of the Church, or Russia or Ukraine. 

A fuller post is on this blog relating to Orthodoxy in these parts……somewhere……so use the search facility if you are that interested!

So, as I said, the Ukrainian President, with an election looming……in which he will be thoroughly spanked……has decided to interfere with the Orthodox Church.  Obviously this will solidify his “hard core” nationalist vote……but it will do nothing for unity of the patriotic vote……Yes dear Mr Yushenko, there is a massive difference in being a Patriot to being a Nationalist!!

What has the President said then?  Well, very shortly, Patriarch Krill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church visits Ukraine…….and the President is going to push him politically to create the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which he states,  “This is a matter of unity of our spiritual life and the entire society. This is a father’s house for all Orthodox Christians in Ukraine…..”

Now of course, that may be true at a certain level…….but for all the catholics in Ukraine…..the Vatican and Roman Catholicism is and always will be centered in Rome.  It is the same for every single Catholic on the face of the planet.  I am a Catholic……when Yushenko went to see the Pope a few weeks ago…..should I have told him to politically lean on the Pope and say he has to create the Ukrainian Catholic Church to “unify my spiritual life and the entire society?”

I am fairly sure the Pope would have found a suitable biblical quote, such as “Go forth and multiply President Yushenko”…….or in other words “Fuck Off”.

Yushenko went on to say, as if he was not interfering “The state doesn’t interfere in church life. But a state which is concerned with the unity of its people cannot stay aside,”…….which is most definitely interfering!!

Take a look at global history Mr Yushenko……interference by the State in religious affairs never ends well.  In the UK we had the persecution of Catholics from the time of Elizabeth I onwards……and the antiquated laws of the UK still prohibit a Catholic monarch……but it led to centuries of sectarian violence which still continue today, attempted plots to blow up the parliament building with all MPs in it by Guy Fawkes and many other instances or major or minor civil unrest.

When adding this new interference in religion to the complete bans on pornography, mainstream films, books being taken out of circulation and banned, a complete ban on gambling, anti Russian and Anti Polish sentiment by some against pro Russian and Pro Polish sentiment by others…..this will further split an already fractured society and further radicalise the “nationalists” against the “patriotic majority”.

If you want an example of how fucking shitty that becomes Mr Yushenko, look at Ireland.  The “Nationalists” have killed and continue to kill people all the time and over the past 30 years have killed thousands…….including those who agree with their views, are of the same religion but are “Patriots” and will not go to the extremes of the “Nationalists” who are prepared and politically motivated to engage in acts most rational Patriots would not. 

There has never been a successful interference by State in religion……it always brings bloodshed and instability……and Mr Yushenko, Ukraine is already divided enough under your policies of “unity”……are you trying to break the camel’s back with this straw?

Is cancelling the elections and your retention of power through “martial law” the European path you declared Ukraine was steadfastly on here last week the same path followed by all who see “divide and conquer” as the way forward?

Mr Yushenko, Ukrainian unity will not be achieved through fucking with religion……it will not be achieved by re-writing history books, or glossing over certain bits in them……it will not be achieved by banning books or films or gambling or pornography.  It will not be delivered by politically stage managed murder suspects appearing from nowhere after 6 years!!

Ukrainian unity will be created by good infrastructure, good living conditions, equality in pay, good pay, the rule of law equally apportioned to everyone, the eradication of corruption, the removal of immunity, the complete and utter impartiality of the judicial system, a working and effective government for the people, of the people and by the people.  In such an environment, political extremism is irrelivant and does not get a foothold.  Being a Ukrainian then becomes something of both national and internation pride……and envied.

In the past 5 years of your time in office you have done absolutely nothing to improve the life of your people……you have been hell bent on getting richer, protecting your interests and those of your friends and inner circle, ramping up rhetoric against those domestic and foreign who question or oppose the few divisive acts and policies you have followed.  The catalogue of failures to fulfill promises in 2004 is beyond comprehension, the policies of further divisiveness are there for all to see.  You have done less for Ukraine and it’s people than Kuchma……and he is not exactly high up on the “Role Model” list for anyone in the Northern Hemisphere.

I am not the only one who thinks you should not apply political pressure or make political statements about religion to Mr Krill…….

“In the meantime, leaders of several public organizations in Ukraine have urged all political parties in the country to observe ‘political silence’ when the head of the Russian Orthodox Church visits Ukraine.

In a letter published on Saturday the leaders of the Ukrainian Foundation for Peace, the Foundation for National and International Security and the White Well charitable organization of old believers called on politicians to refrain from propaganda of ideology and party symbols during Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Ukraine.

The letter signed by the heads of more than sixty public organizations says that politicians should be tolerant and should respect for freedom of conscience of Ukrainian citizens and their freedom of choice when it comes to choosing religious communities and religious outlook.

The letter’s authors also warn against possible political speculations that may appear ‘against the background of vital events for Ukraine.’

“Such attempts have always spoilt the general image of our state and contributed to creating a distorted perception of Ukraine and its open and hospitable people in the eyes of the international public. As a result, the international community has a very low level of respect for Ukraine and its citizens,” activists of public movements told Ukrainian politicians.”

Mr Yushenko, a very wise man……wiser than you and I…….once said “History teaches us that history teaches us nothing”……..It would be nice to see you prove both him and history wrong……just this once!!

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Gas Prices To Increase By 20% From 1st September in Ukraine

July 25, 2009

Well dear readers, it appears that the officials in Ukraine have succumbed to the requests of the IMF and will increase the cost of gas to both corporations and the public from 1st September 2009.

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The National Electricity Regulation Commission……yeh I know, where does it say in their title they are responsible for gas pricing…….has stated.  This is, of course on top of the 35% rise in gas prices announced in October 2008 which came into effect in December 2008……..so a 55% rise in gas prices within 10 months.

There seems to be some for of system…….which as usual is not clearly stated or defined……which states that is usage is less than 2500 cubic meters then the price will be in the region of 0.58 UAH per cubic meter.  Useage between 2500 and 6000 cubic meters the price will be about 0.878 UAH per cubic meter…..with a meter…..and 0.966 UAH without a meter.

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………Quite how it can be ascertained what an individuals use is without a meter is beyond me……so if you are meter-less and use less than 2500 cubic meters per year……..who knows what “estimated” bill you will get at the highest rate of 0.966 UAH per cubic meter…….because you don’t have a meter.

Now, my annual useage……which is metered is above 2500 cubic meters…….in fact to get it to 2500 cubic meters or less would mean I didn’t have a gas appliance used regularly throughout the year……..and my hot water system and oven and hob are all gas…….so I’m screwed.

If you are unlucky enough to have old systems which are not particularly efficient……..like most heating systems in older Soviet style buildings…….and even some modern buildings…….due to “tradesmen”…….I use the word in the loosest possible terms……..doing things “the way they have always been done” rather than using systems much more economical which have been in use in the UK for at least 25 years…….then the fact your building may be only 3 months old does not necessarily mean that there will be significant savings on utility bills compares to a Soviet style building……….

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Anyway, if you use more than 6000 cubic meters of gas per year but less than 12000 cubic meters…….the cost is going to be about 1.798 UAH per cubic meter……….with a meter……..without a meter it will be around 1.977 UAH.

Errrrm…….Yes I am aware there is nothing stopping the authorities saying an unmetered user……who actually used less than 2500 cubic meters a year…….used 11987 cubic meters……..because who can prove otherwise…….and charging 1.977 UAH per cubic meter.

But wait…….what if you use more than 12000 cubic meters……..well without a meter you know what is going to happen……..you do…….don’t you!!

If you use over 12000 cubic meters of gas per year…..if you have a meter…..you will pay in the region of 2.148 UAH per cubic meter……….without a meter you will pay 2.362 UAH per cubic meter.

Obviously without your own meter……..you can expect the exceptionally transparent energy business sector of Ukraine to miraculously calculate that you one ring gas burner has racked up an astronomic gas usage meaning you pay 2.362 UAH per cubic meter……..as estimated by someone……..somewhere………who cannot really be identified or questioned over their calculations……..because nobody really knows how the figure was arrived at…….or who calculated it……..but it is on the bill so you have to pay it or be cut off!!

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This is, however, an effective way to stimulate the economy by sales of gas meters and reinvigorate the gas meter fitting industry inside Ukraine……whilst also pleasing the IMF……and thus allowing Ukraine to borrow more money it doesn’t have.

It is far easier to pass the costs on to corporations and the individual members of the public than it is to come to agreement with the EU and Russia on upgrading the existing gas pipe infrastructure which leaks quite a bit more than 12000 cubic meters of gas per year.  In fact some uncorroborated sources state 8% of gas going through Ukraine’s gas pipeline escapes.

With just over 120 billion cubic meters of gas going through Ukraine in 2009……according to BBC figures I found…….that means around 9.6 billion cubic meters escapes into nothingness.

If it was not metered that would be almost 22.7 billion UAH at the highest rate in revenue lost on unconsumed gas!!

Still, as the politics of Ukrainian gas is difficult and putting up prices is easier……..

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