Well dear readers, Leigh Turner, the UK Ambassador to Ukraine is once again trying to get Brits in Ukraine to sign up to the LOCATE service using the arguement “if we can’t find you, we can’t help you” and offering free drinks at the Embassy for all those who are signed up to the service.
The Embassy estimates there are 500 Brits in Ukraine.
This has caused some discussion amongst the Brit Expat community in Ukraine in our cyber-community. My points made seem to be quite generally accepted as to valid and why the system will not succeed.
I quote them here for your benefit in original form……and I know Leigh and Charles do occasionally lower themselves to read my ramblings, so here is general feedback from the community……..
It’s at 84 at the moment……registered Brits with LOCATE that is.
Now whilst I would not question 84 registered Brits I am not certain how the 500 is arrived at.
I say that because I am fairly certian the Border Services of Ukraine could not tell you how many are in the country last month, last week, yesterday or today.
Is the figure based on IM and Residency, or IM, Residency and current Visa holders of which a proportion are in country right now, is it IM, residency, a proportion of Visa holders “believed” to be in country and with a few overstayers as well (in case)?
Does that figure include tourists? I ask because according to historical posts on Leigh’s blog, many who came for football reasons in the past also registered with LOCATE despite the extremely short term time in country…..effectively they were tourists.
If Ukraine probably can’t give an accurate figure then the UK Embassy certainly won’t be able to either.
There could be much less than 500…….or alternatively several thousand.
Maybe it was arrived at by an informal headcount in the GG in Kyiv and then adding on 15 Brits per major city across Ukraine, 7 Brits per medium/small city and arriving at a total.
Alternatively, maybe it is a head count of British NGOs, Embassy and Consul staff, UK BBCU members and a quick hack into BKs’ contact list in his email account.
It is very difficult to see a way to arrive at the figure of 500 Brits in Ukraine and for it to mean anything.
As for EnglishMKiev remark about the UK Government, he is no doubt correct that many here would not sign up for those exact reasons (unpaid council tax from 1996, unpaid parking ticket from 2002 etc etc)…..which of course if not the fault of the UK Embassy but the political masters in London of the FCO, whose use of and lack of security of electonically held data gets questioned more times than Gordon Brown at PMQ’s.
The recent ruling in the UK courts about what is tax residency and not tax residency as far as the UK is concerned will not have helped either I suspect…….simply because HMRC would prefer to fight each battle in court (and hope to win) rather than clarify the issue and set specific guidelines.
It is of course easy to tar the UK diplomats with the same brush as the UK politicians but that is unfair. Let us be honest, many UK leading diplomats are probably more inclined politically to be Conservative than Labour when it comes to personal bias by way of the majority across the globe……..that is certainly the impression I have amongst those diplomats I know…..although that may be wrong.
For many the problem would not be signing up to LOCATE if that data remained soley within the UK Embassy in Kyiv……but it is a Government financed data base and as I have said, the UK Government is seen by the majority of Britains in the UK as being less than honest when it comes to the uses of data and the security of that data when they have it.
(For the record, in case people think I have anything to hide from the UK Gov……I don’t. My police check for residency here came back as “there is no information held about you on the Police National Computer” and my UK income is taxed at source…….so having not been back in the UK for years, I can’t have broken any laws there to have changed that. )
Of course it may happen that one day in the future all UK expats will be subject to mandatory registration with schemes such as LOCATE, but that day has not come and it is still personal choice.
For the reasons outlined above (and not the fault of the Embassy) if they managed to get 40% of Brits actually here to sign up, they should consider that a job well done.
After this we conducted a poll amongst ourselves regarding the number of Brits (not tourists) in Ukraine for more than 8 months in a year and nobody……and I mean not one of us, got the estimate of the UK Embassy but the consensus was one double of their estimate.
Unlike many nations, the UK only has an Embassy and Consul in Kyiv, where other nations also have them in cities such as Lviv, Odessa, Donetsk etc. I do not mean Honourary Consuls who will fly the flag of that nation in that region from home or work to relieve some travelling for “our man in Kyiv” and also for the nationals which live nowhere near Kyiv…….although that is better than anything the UK currently offers in Ukraine.
I am talking about fully functioning and staffed consulates. Odessa alone has 16 or 17 consuls……which I have listed way back in the archieves of this blog, by country, address, and telephone number in Odessa.
It is hardly surprising the UK Embassy gets a radically reduced total of British Expats in Ukraine compared to the estimates of Expats in Ukraine, when it has no pressence in any tangible form outside of Kyiv.
Even Ukraine has two official presences in the UK, one in Scotland and one in London.
I have been to Greek consular functions, Polish consular functions and Russian consular functions in Odessa and the amount of foreigners you would never know were in Odessa is very surprising……as is the amount of Brits!
Anyone wanting to register with LOCATE and reads my ramblngs can of course clink on the link to Leigh Turner’s blog to the right of this post, which in turn takes you into the Embassy website where you will find the LOCATE registration forms.