Archive for February, 2010

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Passports, scandals, assassinations and security!

February 24, 2010

Well dear readers, the issues of dual citizenship or the availability of genuine……let alone fake…..passports is not normally something which people think about…….at least until recently of course.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-refuses-to-help-britain-with-inquiry-into-fake-passports-1907388.html

Maybe twenty years ago, organised criminals in the UK had a “market” for passports stolen in domestic burglaries and once upon a time I could have taken you to places in Huddersfield, Leeds and Manchester where you could have bought an altered passport to meet your needs…..namely the photograph matched yours but the rest of the passport was as it was when stolen.

This was not because I was part of organised crime in the UK, far from it, I was on the other side, the side which sought to manage organised crime and spent much time on surveillence or under cover for various agencies in the UK.   Anyway that’s another story which will not be written…….at least here!

My point is simply that real, fake, altered, stolen passports have been a commodity in organised crime, terrorism and of course a tool in combating the same for decades.

David “006” Miliband has expressed “the profound concern that exists not just in Britain but all over Europe about this incident” whilst the EU has said “the assassination raised “profoundly disturbing” issues”……namely EU passports being used of course.

This is all very well, until you consider just how easy it is to have more than one genuine passport. 

We will take the case of a certain Slavic gentleman I know well.  He has a Russian passport from decades in Russia although born in Odessa.  He also has a Ukrainian Passport because he applied for it as his birth certificate shows he was born in Ukraine.  He also has a Greek passport as his grandmother was Greek.  Not one of these nations knows he holds any other passport than their own and yet he is legally entitled to hold each nations passport and broke no rules and paid no bribes to get them .

Yes it can be argued that Ukraine does not allow dual citizenship by way of constitution, but there is a contradicting law in the Statute which does allow it, and many of Ukraine’s elite make the most of this “legal ambigutity” with others I know holding Ukrainian and……Israeli or American or UK or Bulgarian or Czech passports as well…….all legally obtained with no laws broken in obtaining them.  Any laws broken thereafter, of course I have no idea about. 

I am entitled to take Ukrainian citizenship should I wish due to domestic circumstances and should I do so it is my responsibility, after getting my Ukrainian passport to surrender my UK one to the UK if I was to be led by the Ukrainian constitution.  This would also mean I would no longer need a Visa for Russia either.  The point is Ukraine cannot take my UK passport from me when issuing me theirs as it is property of HM Government so not theirs to take and it is incumbent on me to inform the UK of what I have done and return it…….Yeh……now you see how easy it is to hold 2 passports legally…….I simply do not surrender my UK passport or even mention to the UK I have a Ukrainian one. 

I didn’t take the route of getting a Ukrainian passport but took Permanent Residency instead of citizenship…….but I could have and quite legally.

Even if I didn’t have a legal rite to hold it through my domestic circumstances, I could still, for $100,000 simply buy Ukrainian citizenship from Ukraine quite officially as per the Ukrainian Government website.

If you know people in the RADA it is only $20,000……enough said.

It is also quite possible to buy, not only a geniune Bulgarian passport here in Ukraine, but also the Shengen borderless nations pass (like a credit card) to go with your Bulgarian passport for Euro 30,000 if you have the right connections.  No doubt there are others too which I have no personal knowledge about.

The fact is they are all genuine and not fake and would stand up to scrutiny without a problem……..because they are geniune!

I will admit, for the likes of you and I, this is probably a pointless exercise accomplishing nothing for us as individuals and the costs involved would also put many people off……..but if you are of a criminal mentality or worse…….or need a false ID for some reason…….like popping over to the Middle East to illiminate a problem…….then neither money nor reason are lacking.

There is obviously more outrage within Britain as even though Embassies world wide hold blank passports ready for issue, they are of course stored in a safe, in serial number order and regularly audited and signed off by the Embassy staff to combat the issuing of “dubious passports”.

That said, it is safe to say that given the connections and money, a blank of any nations passport can be “available”……particularly to national security organisations.

One of the reasons Ukraine is being held up from further EU integration is of course border security, however this incident quite clearly shows that border security is not what the public thinks it is……..then again, the public twenty years ago didn’t realise the market for stolen passports either!  

There is no such thing as 100% security, so you can only make it as difficult as possible, without making yourself a prisoner by surrendering too many personal rites in the process less you create another threat from within by depriving people of long held freedoms to sit along side the external threat as well.

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Replacing Tymoshenko……….

February 23, 2010

Well dear readers, now Mr Yanukovych will become President of Ukraine in 3 days time, obviously all eyes are now on Ms Tymoshenko and if she will be able to keep a majority coalition in the RADA……and therefore keep her job as Prime Minister.

She is without doubt a fighter, but would it serve her purposes better to resign and lead the opposition with 2015 not that far away when you are only 49 years old.

It is something of a gamble to do so, as under the Prime Ministership of Mr Yanukovych, many Ukrainians felt that things imporved domestically and therefore should he, as President, have a parliament and Prime Minister he can work with, there is a reasonable chance that the same feeling will come back despite the obvious need for some serious and unpopular issues to occur in the economic situation.

If she resigns…..or is pushed out legally…….who will take her place?

Mr Yanukovych and the Party of Regions have narrowed the field to 3 candidates of which only one is a PoR member.

Yanukovich named businessman Sergey Tigipko and former foreign minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as well as a member of his own party, former finance minister Mykola Azarov, as the most likely candidates.

“Today we can say that talks surround three figures. They are Tigipko, Yatsenyuk and Azarov,” Yanukovich told the Ukraina television station in an interview. “We expect a result by the end of this coming week.”

Tigipko, 50, and Yatsenyuk, 35, have presented themselves as pragmatists who would be able to undertake tough reforms as Ukraine reels from a deep economic crisis. Russian-born Azarov, 63, leans more towards Moscow and traditional state regulation.

As president, Yanukovich has no formal part in creating a coalition, but his party will be in talks with other factions in parliament to decide on a programme and new prime minister. – Reuters

It seems quite logical……and therefore not necessarily going to happen…….that either Tigipko or Yatsenyuk would be favourites simply because they are outside of the PoR and attracted 13 and 7 % respectively of the national vote and would make Mr Yanukovych more acceptable to those in western Ukraine by having a non PoR Prime Minister.

Also, Mr Yanukovych can no longer lead the PoR now he is President as he can have no formal ties to any political party.  This is a role Mr Azarov could fill however, being Russian born would reinforce the dislike for the PoR in western Ukraine.

This said, there is still room for all 3 in the set up of the new parliament which would distribute Mr Yanukovych’s acceptibility more evenly throughout Ukraine.

Both Tigipko and Yatensyuk could work effectively as Prime Minister or leader of the NBU, both having the necessary experience, but the NBU would be a good position for a loyal PoR and Yanukovych man like Azarov who has economic experience.

That would mean either Tigipko or Yatsenyuk could take positions of Prime Minister and Foreign Minsiter, not only insuring Yankovych’s acceptibility in western Ukraine but also…..if there are no snap parliamentary elections……..in 2012 when the next parliamentary elections are due, the support for the coaltion of Tigipko and Yatsenyuk supporters who will undoubtedly gain in force in the parliament when such an election is called.

Expect to see all three men offered significant roles in any new coaltion formed with the PoR however…..although Yatsenyuk has previously said he would remain in opposition regardless of whether Yanukovych or Tymoshenko won the election…..so he may refuse any role offered to him……we will see.

My money, at the moment……subject to change and acceptance of roles offered of course…….is Tigipko to be Prime Minsiter, Yatsenyuk to become Foreign Minister (particularly useful as he is fluent in English) and Azarov to become head of the NBU.

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A Cossack Capital?

February 22, 2010

Interfax-Ukraine Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko has said he hopes that the construction of a Cossack capital near Kyiv will start this spring.

He said this at an extended meeting of the Council of Ukrainian Cossacks in Kyiv on Feb. 22.

“I’d like us to implement this project this spring, uniting all of our efforts,” Yushchenko said.

He said that a land plot for the construction of the Cossack capital near Kyiv had already been allocated. He said that this was a good place within ten minutes’ drive of Kyiv, with a river and forest located nearby.

Yushchenko said that this would be the official residence of Ukrainian Cossacks.

Apart from the land allocated sounding very much like “prime land” normally only aquired by large bribes and payoffs in and around Kyiv…….of course not in this case being a Yushenko pet project running along nationalist lines as per normal……isn’t this a rather divisive thing?

What’s next?  Allocated land plots for a Ruthenians capital, a Crimean Tartars capital, plots for any remenence of the founding tribes of Ukraine?

Maybe Ukraine could turn into just a large number of capitals and lands similar to a patchwork quilt of Indian reservations and get rid of city administrations and regional administrations?

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More mutterings about an EU Army

February 22, 2010

http://euobserver.com/9/29510

Well dear readers, most of this article has little to with Ukraine……unless the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was to seek full independence again, in which case European Union policy would seem to have a precident in the Bosnia Kosovo issue as discussed here.

This is not the reason I picked this article to ponder however.

I have chosen it for this end section and then to extend the thought to Ukraine and its position between Russia and the EU.

Ms Ashton’s speeches are being watched for clues on how she plans to shape EU foreign policy over the next five years.

Her Belgrade statement depicted the EU as a guarantor of security, a role formally reserved for Nato, but with French and German leaders recently speaking out in support of a European army.

“In this world, the small and medium-sized states of Europe cannot provide real security. That is why the European Union is essential for our future,” Ms Ashton said.

The highlighting is obviously my own and this is a subject which I have touched on before, specifically when commenting upon the sale of French Warships to Russia despite concerns of fellow EU and NATO allies.

Now there is of course, something in Mr Sarkozy’s statement when he said about the sale, words to the effect that how can NATO keep saying it sees Russia as an ally if we do not treat it as one.  A reasonable point to some degree …..particularly if you have a shared point of view about European security as France, Russia, possibly Germany and few others have, but of course not the whole reason for the sale.

More honesty would be found in the fact that French shipyards are suffering and lay-offs of hundreds and thousands of workers will happen if the sale does not go through.  The actual price of the warship, a paultry Euro 500 million makes little difference to France in the long run of course, but employment now, in a time of recession and faultering recovery does.

This sale will happen for domestic reasons in France irrespective of the “concerns” of fellow EU and NATO members such as Latvia for example.

The sale has been accommodated by the current NATO head also, stating there was nothing wrong with it.

Why is this, as 5 years ago, such a sale would never have happened?

The answer of course is France has now returned to the NATO limelight after years on the sidelines and has a powerful and influential figure in Mr Sarkozy which is able to use his persoanl abilities to make this happen.

Germany and Italy also have good economic and energy reasons not to oppose such a sale with Russia.

What has this to do with an EU Army?

Well, for many years France has been an advocate of such an entity and Germany has not raised any decent towards the idea…….which has been interpreted as silent agreement.  I have not read anywhere as stated in the article that Germany is now vocally supporting the idea although I am not surprised and even amongst British political ranks some agreement on this issue can also be found……as long as it does not scupper NATO.

In many ways, there are already what would be classed as “specialist divisions” already existing of an EU Army with EU member states being part of several such units which do not answer to NATO.  At present the control of these units is done by a 6 month rotating national leadership of those which make up a specific “specialisation”…….similar to the 6 month rotating leadership of the EU prior to the Lisbon Treaty.

Almost every nation in the EU is in at least one of these “special divisions” including the UK.

The Lisbon Treaty has now created “figureheads” for the EU.  As Henry Kissinger once said, “Who do I call when I want to speak to Europe?”  That question has now been answered, even if a swift reply would not be forthcoming as those figureheads can only speak for the EU when a consensus of opinion has been formed by the 27 member states…..so the answer would be, “Ill make some calls and get back to you” 

What is really lacking to make an EU Army a reality is a command structure for the numbers of men, women and armour to go behind the “specialist divisions” already exisiting.   That is purely down to the lack of political will to do it of course…….at the moment.

Several issues arrise from the creation of such an entity.

Firstly, there is the NATO question.  Would the creation of such an entity spell the end of NATO?  Probably not in all honesty.  If the EU Army was to take on Article 5, namely the “one for all and all for one” clause in defence of another NATO member for the continent of Europe only and EU members only, then this would be very much a defensive geographical institution and much less costly for many members then sending their people to far flung corners of the planet on NATO expeditions (with or without UN mandates) where their headcount and expertise really makes no difference in the NATO ranks on the ground in these theatres.

Maybe a set levy for NATO membership to share financial costs only would be the answer or even reconstruction works only and a fee for not fighting.  In effect, similar to the British Army which has teeth arms……the front line fighters and artillery……and then those which are not teeth arms but logistical.  The Netherlands now looks set to remove its troops from Afghanistan when August arrives for financial as well as political reasons.

Of course this would have the USA and some Commonealth nations quite upset as they will be seen by their public to be sending their men and women to die on the pretext of defending a nation which is not putting their own in harms way…….but that is happening now anyway whether they chose to recognise that or not……and most of those nations did not support at least one of the recent NATO “expeditions”.

There would be those who would say OK, but don’t expect us from the US and Commonwealth nations to come rushing to your aid if you are invaded, but then that would not be an issue if the EU Army is taking over Article 5 guarantees for the geographical region of Europe, if only by way of direct and imminent invasion of a foreign power.

In effect the EU would be taking responsibility for the defence of the EU which it certainly can afford to do and certainly has the military numbers to manage in a defensive capacity as long as it does not go globe trotting playing the world policeman which NATO has become.

In this respect there would be room for both organsiations, one responsible for EU defence and another to act as global bobby for the UN…..and of course, those countries which want to be “influential” in global policies would not leave NATO.

We also have to be honest and recognise that of the worlds top 5 arms manufacturers there are 2 EU nations amongst them, both of which are also nuclear, in the shape of France and the UK…..with Ukraine coming in at number 6 in the world for arms sales.

Europe really does not need US technology in arms, but of course, why not let the US not only pay for “missile defences” but also rent to the US the ground they put them on as well……money and defence for free, (even if some of the voting public are against it, a small price to pay), with the added bonus of a stimulous to the immediate local economy!

You have to wonder about the US taxpayer in all that though……providing Europe a free defence shield and then after paying for that, the US also has to rent the ground on which the missiles will be housed from that nation.  Maybe they are all under the impression that Europe doesn’t know how to make weapons or has a military other than the UK military?

What has this to do with Ukraine?  Well much would depend on whether the EU Army would be an army made up soley of EU nations, namely full members, whether it would be made up of all nations on the recognised continent of Europe, which would then include Russia which manages to get part of its territory into Europe even if the vast majority is Eurasia and therefore obviously would include Ukraine, or whether it would be EU nations and those with assocaited status like the Eastern European Partnership program which again involves Ukraine and quite possibly Russia in some of the programs.

Of course this would please both Mr Medvedev and Mr Sarkozy as both have the same European defence agenda even if the methods and reasons are different……if the reasons are different at all.

(Lets face it, with Iraq and Afghanistan on-going, France chose a strange time to re-enter the NATO limelight……unless it had an agenda which was not being heard from the shadows).

The next question, assuming it was formed, is who would control it?  A rotating command struture would seem quite pointless now there are official figureheads to call (for Mr Kissinger) which have been appointed under the Lisbon Treaty…….and we would only be talking about European defence and not proactive and pre-emptive strikes elsewhere around the globe, for that would remain a NATO remit……or so we are to believe.

Just as in NATO it would still remain a soveriegn nations decision to commit its military to any conflict…..but of course if the conflict is actually happening on European soil (again) then there is much more interest in a united EU effort than that of poppy fields in Afghanistan, Taliban in Pakistan or mythical WMDs in Iraq.

Given the difficult balancing act Ukraine has already with keeping its trading partners happy both in Russia and the EU…..and it cannot afford to lose either one, then of course joining a purely defensive force would be a fairly cheap and attractive proposition, especially with both EU and Russian involvement and would certainly assist in the European intigration in more ways than just militarily……without the historical hangover of being “NATO”, and therefore much easier for the public to swallow.

It is debatable about how much additonal economic growth or how much of a boost to the economy the creation of an EU Army would have, but of course, France, the UK and Germany would all make some additional money in defence/arms contracts…….as would Russia and Ukraine should they be included in it.

NATO can then go chasing insurgents around the globe due to the lack of any serious coventional military threat from anywhere……including Iran which may be a nuclear threat but is not going to invade Europe, therefore not warranting the numbers of military people retained in NATO when anti ballistic missiles will nullify the threat.

In this day and age it is simply not necessary to have 500,000 troops anywhere (unless China was to become empirialsitic) to confront a conventional military force, particularly as has been shown, guerrilla warfare is far better at getting results than sending the calvery charging in over the ridge and several thousand people can keep one hundred thousand plus busy for 9 years or more with no recognisable gains as yet.

We will see what happens in the future of course, but it will take only one or two more NATO expeditions to be far more costly, politically divisvie and less timely than invisaged to make an EU Army constrained by mandate to only defend the continent of Europe from invasion,  far more acceptable to the average European voter than it currently is.

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Tymoshenko withdraws court challenge……

February 21, 2010

Well dear readers, as anticipated, Ms Tymoshenk has withdrawn her court challenge over the presidential elections results, and as expected, she has blamed her withdrawl on biased officials not giving her a fair hearing.

“As a presidential candidate, I have faced machinery, which works not on the basis of justice at all,” Tymoshenko told journalists in a recess of a Higher Administrative Court session on Saturday.

Tymoshenko described the procedure of the consideration of her suit against the Central Election Commission at the Higher Administrative Court as “a performance that absolutely does not look like the administration of justice.”

“It is obvious that, if they continue to consider this issue without our participation, this will mean that they want to sanctify this falsification on any circumstances and make it seem legitimate,” she said.

You have to admire the brazen duplicity she has for blaming the same biased courts she has used to her advantage time and again over the past 5 years.

It seems the courts are against her, the nation voted against her, the exit polls all lied and the international observers were also complicite in her failure in a grand conspiracy including the leaders of the rest of the world who have already acknowledged and congratulated her rival on the result of the election.

Will this go down as one of the world’s greatest conspiracy theories along with the assassination of JFK, Freemasonary, Jesuits, religion, WMDs, the death of Dr David Kelly?…….Err no, quite obviously she actually lost the election and mostly through her own doing during her campaign.

On the upside, for Ms Tymoshenko, she still holds the most powerful office in the land as Prime Minsiter……at least at the moment…….and will do so either as Prime Minister or Acting Prime Minister until the summer should she lose the majority in parliament such is the timescale for new elections……unless PoR can form a majority coalition themselves of which the chances are slim and more simply replace her.

Of course this has all been political showboating to a degree and for the most part just another way to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the opponets victory.  It is very doubtful that the PoR managed to pervert the vote any more than her own “dedicate followers” could have……and probably did in equal amounts.

Should her appeal still go ahead despite her withdrawl of it?  Well it depends where you sit.  If you are a die-hard Tymoshenko supporter, you like her will say “It is obvious that, if they continue to consider this issue without our participation, this will mean that they want to sanctify this falsification on any circumstances and make it seem legitimate,”……..however if you are an international observer in which foreign nations put such trust to declare a vote free and fair or not…….then maybe you will want some court vindication stating that the vote stands, the count was correct and the vote was “free and fair” as you declared.

Whatever, now the minor position of President has been settled, the true battle for power…….the Prime Ministership and majority coalition in parliament now begins!

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EU Project – Invest East

February 20, 2010

Sometimes there are token gestures……and then others there are gestures which are just completely bloody pointless dear readers.

Here is a completely bloody pointless gesture from the EU……

Interfax-Ukraine The European Commission has issued a call for proposals for new regional investment and trade facilitation project EAST-INVEST for Eastern Partnership countries, the press service of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine has reported.

EAST-INVEST with a budget of EUR 7 million is intended to contribute to the economic development of the Eastern Neighborhood region and to the improvement of its business environment by facilitating networks between EU and Eastern Neighborhood region public and private organizations.

The new trade facilitation project will aim to encourage new flows of foreign direct investments and to strengthen the investment promotion process between the EU and the Partner Countries, as well as between the Eastern Neighbors.

Also EAST-INVEST project foresees: strengthening a public-private dialog by integrating SMEs, business facilitators and selected public-sector SME facilitators into the networking mechanisms; facilitating exchange of best practices and interconnections between EU and Eastern Neighborhood companies in order to favor business co-operation agreements, mutual trade, transfer of technology, customs procedures, product standards, and investment; developing the capacity of Eastern Neighborhood SME support organizations.

The Eastern Partnership consists of the following countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Indeed dear readers, 6 nations and a massive Euro 7 million to spend.  What a massive difference Euro 1.2 million will make to each nation if it is even shared equally.  One of the good lady’s companies, www.odessa-pa.com could well fall into the category of “business facilitator” and is certainly an SME, but to actually make any more of a dent in the marketplace that it already does would take a fair slice of the Euro 1.2 million Ukraine would recieve if the money was allocated evenly.

What could be far more useful for such a concept would be actually holding this event in Brussels or a major European city, sponsored by the EU and inviting SME’s from the six nations in question to actually show their worth to Europeans who don’t know 99.999% of them exist whilst the EU keeps control of the money instead of just handing it over to some corrupt official in any of these nations to simply pocket hidden by a trail of false accounting and expenditure.

Then again, the EU is currently Euro 14 billion behind in honouring it’s existing pledges, so this could well be another nice idea backed up by…….well, nothing!

http://euobserver.com/9/29496

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Spuds!

February 19, 2010

Ukrainian companies importing potatoes from Saudi Arabia and Egypt
Ukrainian companies will boost imports of potatoes to cover a domestic deficit, UKRINFORM has reported, citing the Delo newspaper.

The main suppliers of potatoes are Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The ships with products from these countries are already at a Ukrainian port. The Ukrainian trade and economic mission in Egypt said that potatoes supplies were a project of private companies, rather than a state program. The average cost of Egyptian potatoes is three times higher than Ukrainian. Import companies said that potatoes supplies on the Ukrainian market would grow at least by a third this season.

Well, what can I say, a country bigger than France with the best agricultural land in Europe and once the bread basket of the USSR is……..importing potatoes!

How mismanaged can a country get?

(Oh and yes, it’s true…….the spuds from Egypt are labelled as such in the local supermarkets here in Odessa.)

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