Archive for October, 2010

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The need for Secrets

October 31, 2010

Well dear readers, not directly linked to Ukraine…….although even when nothing is linked, everything is linked at certain levels…… here is a link to the Secret Intelligence Services website of the UK and head of shed, Sir John, putting things into persepective (and do click on the link at the bottom to his full speech) from his (and many other people’s) point of view.

http://www.sis.gov.uk/output/about-us.html

Once upon a time, back in my distant and some may say merky past, I was what is known at Positively Vetted (PV) when working for Her Maj.

This and my role in the wheels and cogs of the organisations I was in (and involved with) gave me access to documents and information of a senstive nature than is generally available to many.

Despite signing the Official Secrets Act, the oaths I undertook would prevent me volunteering any specifics as a matter of principle so I will write in generalities.

Let us look at the basics, Top Secret, Secret, Confidential, Restricted and Unclassified…..together with such add-ons as Flash, Immediate, Priority and Routine, that equate to who you wake up (or not) relating to information recieved.

Who sets the status of such communications?  Generally it is the author of any communication and as such it is given its status relating to security and speed of dissemination by them.

This inherently means over (or occasionally) under classification and the waking of those unneccessarily in the silent hours on occasion.

This said, what I may have seen in a Secret/Top Secret document may not be the whole picture given the “need to know” system.  It maybe what I have seen and immediately thought was over classified due to the contents I see, is but a portion of a much more substantial document relating to many more players (each of whom may think the same as I do on receipt of but a small section of a document or instruction relating to the grand plan).

To stop the grand plan losing its importants and requirement for waking people in the silent hours, notwithstanding a lesser classification possibly leading to a more relaxed attitude towards to contents and thus reaching eyes and ears it shouldn’t…..but meaning much more to them than me…….what I get to see remains classified at the level of the grand plan.

This is fair enough and understandable. 

The issue comes with the declassifying of this material when it is historically far beyond any effective use to those subject of the grand plan as it has been actioned numerous years ago and anything contained in the still classified documents has been witnessed, on the ground, by those who could have learned anything from the classified documents……ie lessons have already be learned and their protocols adapted to counter the methods used in the grand plan as actioned some years ago.

At what point and who decides to downgrade the documents.  There is not reason to retain a unnecessarily high classification just because the contents will embarrass a government or individual should the downgrade make it possible to allow open access through Freedom of Information requests. 

However, there is also the real responsibility that comes with leaks or FOI requests that a lesser experienced opposition may glean something from them they had not previously considered.

Difficult decisions abound for those who must make them.  There is ultimately a price one way or another when there is  substantial amount of the public distrusting of government (any government) who seeks access to confirm or deny any theory (conspiracy or otherwise) aganst that of continued trust between intelligence agencies.

No decisions in life are without their consequences be they big or small.

The problems with classifying Secret on almost everything is that Secret becomes routine (not to be confused with Routine and dissemination), the storage of Secret and above correspondents (over that of Confidential, Restricted and Uncalssified) and the timing, authorities needed and subsquent classification of any new status given to the previously secretive documents.

Now lets us move onto the topical subject of informants.  There are many types of informant.  There is Mrs Smith who calls the local police because she sees someone breaking into a house.  She is a concerned member of the public who may or may not, when push comes to shove, give a statement about what she saw for any criminal proceedings.  She will however be recorded when telephoning the police to report the incident in progress and 99 times from 100 will, without a thought, give the control room her details before deciding not to give a statement to the police later about what she saw.

When asked in a courtroom, in the absense of Mrs Smith, where the information came from that led to the apprehension of those in the dock, the usual and accepted police responce is “acting on information recieved” and it is rarely pushed as to who gave the information if they have not given a statement.

(Of course Mrs Smith can be made to appear at court, but she would be possibly a hostile witness).

Moving this into an international arena throws up even more considerations as to whether information is acted upon or not. 

What if the information acted upon was gained as a reult of torture and passed on from a sovereign nation known for its brutality?

Do you act on it and attempt to/or save lives of 100 other people…….or do you ignore this information so as not to be complicite (possibly if the information was gained by torture) in a moral stand for the rights of those being tortured…..as international law would dictate?

Do you play is a little more wisely and advice that the source of this information which could save lives be routed through a third party with an outstanding human rights record and thus acting on it would wash your hands of any complicity?

Tough decisions with outrageous results whichever way you call it.

Returning to the informant issue.  After Mrs Smith who calls once in her life, there is often the village gossip who volunteers what they hear daily.  What protection from public identification do any authorities given them if there is the serious chance of reprocussions of their loose lips sinking a particularly unpleasant ship?

We then move on to informants that are registered by the authorities.  These are generally people with better access to the secretive world the authorities struggle to get intelligence from.

This type of informant requires control.  In most cases there are two handlers, a controller and a centrally held register which identifies the real identity of an informant and the pseudonym they are given.  All intelligence reports coming from this informant only use the pseudonym as the source.  It is not common that anyone other than handlers and controller are aware the informant is in fact an informant (other than those who have access to the informant register of course).

The problem (ignoring reliability and reasons for their participation…..be it financial gain, revenge, ideology/morals etc) with such people is control.  It is one thing to pass information they are aware of, another to step up into the arena of participating informant in situations they have not planned but are expected to participate in by others, to the ultimate problem of agent provocateur in which they orchestrate an incident, inform on it and expect to get their financial reward/revenge/moral victory etc via something that would never have happened lest they were given the opportunity by the authorities.

Clear legal lines have a habit of becoming somewhat smudged and it can become difficult to anchor oneself to the law when the gains of an action based on questionable legality far outweigh the morality of rigidly sticking to the letter of the law and thus numerous others continuing to suffer because no “latitude” was given.

Ultimately though,  it all comes down to the trust of the public in their secret services and the government ministers they answer to and that trust is continually deminishing.  One only has to look back at instants such as Klaus Barbie working for American intelligence, rat lines of the US, UK intelligence agencies and the Catholic Church for wanted War Criminals from WWII onwards to understand why.

Anyway, talking of trust and government and such heady social responsibilities, it’s voting day in Odessa today, so I need to depart and escort the good lady to the voting station.

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Free trade IS sexy……Oh yes it is!

October 30, 2010

Free trade is win-win for Ukraine, Europe –  Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira

Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira writes: In Ukraine, there are a number of misconceptions concerning the price of the deep trade agreement being offered by the EU.

Writing about free trade talks between the European Union and Ukraine is like explaining molecular physics. It’s simply not a sexy issue. For most people, this subject is too technical to understand. And, of course, you will not find Kyiv’s Femen activists drawing attention to it, like they do for other issues by going topless.

It’s a shame. Fear and a lack of understanding about free trade may cause us to miss out on the extraordinary benefits it offers. Free trade is not only good for big corporations. It is just plain good for everybody. It’s a win-win situation both for Ukraine and the EU. But the real winner will be Ukraine. The EU is its largest trading partner, while Ukraine amounts to a little bit more than 1 percent of EU trade.

Centuries ago, it was believed that trade was a zero-sum game. That one nation could gain from an exchange only at the expense of another. Yet, then came some great minds like Adam Smith, or David Ricardo, who revolutionized economics the same way as Newton transformed physics. They emphasized, that in any voluntary exchange both parties must gain (or at least expect to gain) something. And indeed, the experiences of successful reformers like Poland, the Czech Republic or South Korea suggest that trade liberalization immediately boosts annual economic growth rates by several percentage points.

The EU is interested in expanding the zone of stability and prosperity towards its neighbors. Even before free trade negotiations began with Ukraine, the EU indicated that it was ready to offer Ukraine an enhanced agreement. This means that, even without any recognized prospects for membership, Ukraine will gain access to the EU’s internal market and opportunities for more active political co-operation and economic integration.

An important part of such an enhanced agreement is the section on free trade, called the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, DCFTA in our Brussels jargon. What does the label “Deep and Comprehensive” mean?

A classic free trade agreement would not have a serious positive impact in terms of an increase in trade. Nor would it become the driver for integration with the EU. Deep free trade, or FTA+, which is being offered to Ukraine, would not only cancel customs duties. It goes further and eliminates all trade-distorting elements including Ukraine’s harmonizing its rules, regulations and norms with those of the EU and further liberalizing its service sector. Although an enhanced version of the agreement will require significant financial and human resources, as well as institutional and legislative changes, it could realistically remodel the country’s economy and reinforce Ukraine’s integration with the EU.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There will, of course, be costs. Adjusting to new standards and rules won’t be always easy for Ukrainian producers in the short term. Reform could force some industries to downsize or to close, although more industries will expand and many new ones will be created. The adjustment will also bring social costs; For some people and some communities, the transition would be difficult.
So there are short-term adjustment costs, but do not exaggerate. In Ukraine, there are a number of misconceptions concerning the price of the deep trade agreement being offered by the EU.

One of the biggest myths is the negative impact on the state budget revenue. Currently the revenue from customs duties collected at the border makes up 4.4 percent of the total state budget of Ukraine. With regards to removal of customs duties, experience has shown that this short-term loss of import charges will be more than compensated for by the increased revenue received by the state from indirect taxes (for example value-added tax) paid by companies seizing new market opportunities and by the general boost to the economy.

In addition to the sustainable revenue which we hope trade-related growth will bring, the EU will continue to provide assistance to Ukraine in order to accelerate modernization. It is important, because trade and investment are all about confidence and perceptions matter, so for Ukraine to fulfill its economic potential it has to develop transparent and efficient state institutions. The budget spending on legal and institutional reforms in trade-related areas is or will be supported by the EU through the comprehensive institution building program along with funds from international financial institutions. The total EU technical assistance to Ukraine over the period 2011-2013 will add up to 552 million euros.

Many businesses in Ukraine also fear that all the EU free “deep” trade agreement will do is open the door to a flood of European imports. No so. The agreement is reciprocal. Closer EU integration will provide Ukrainian products with open access to a market 13 times greater than its own, with 500 million consumers.

Secondly, EU products are already getting into Ukraine with few de facto barriers. The average applied tariffs on imports from EU are low, so the impact of liberalization will be limited. Thirdly Ukraine is not a key target market.

Fourthly, the EU is willing to open its product market immediately while giving transitional periods to Ukraine. As a matter of fact, the Ukrainian market cannot be completely opened right away after the signing of this agreement, given that domestic manufacturers are mostly not ready for serious outside competition. This is why the EU is ready to discuss transitional periods for specific areas.

The so-called deep and comprehensive free trade agreement will be implemented progressively and gradually by Ukraine. The EU is willing to envisage a decade if need be. Ukrainian businesses will have time to adjust, to harmonize legislation, to adopt standards and norms, and to build the necessary institutions with external support.

All in all, benefits are likely to far outweigh the costs. In the long term, it should help make domestic products more competitive and, as a result, increase Ukrainian exports globally as the quality of Ukrainian products improves. A free trade agreement with the EU should also raise confidence in the Ukrainian economy among foreign investors and spur foreign direct investment. In the long run, it has been estimated that Ukraine-EU free trade agreement will result in an increase in welfare and wages in Ukraine.

The deep and comprehensive free trade agreement being offered is by far the smartest answer to Ukraine’s recent challenges. Eliminating subsidies and trade barriers would mean that resources could be used more efficiently, in turn reducing inequality, poverty, social tensions and environmental degradation. It could realistically become the basis for a new economic strategy for Ukraine.

It is definitely an exciting perspective. I would dare to even call it sexy.


Ambassador Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira is the European Union representative to Ukraine.

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I make that 2503 observers for Sunday’s election

October 29, 2010

Well dear readers, given the fact that when some politicians lose they say the observers didn’t do their job, were in collabertion, didn’t know what they were doing etc etc and refuse to recognise the results…….and some people believe the politicians making these allegations, you sometimes wonder if the below has any real point (even though I know it has)……

Interfax-Ukraine

A total of 490 international observers and some 1,913 observers from Ukrainian national non-governmental organizations will be monitoring the local elections in Ukraine, according to Central Election Commission data on the number of official observers accredited to monitor Ukraine’s local elections that it published on its website.

The CEC registered 365 observers from international NGOs, including 96 from the Committee for Open Democracy, 65 from the CIS-EMO Election Monitoring Organization, 65 from the international NGO For Fair Elections, 29 from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, 24 from the SILBA International NGO, 23 from the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe, 23 from the Elections and Democracy Election Monitoring Association, 23 from the Elections and Democracy international association of election observers, ten from the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of CIS member-states, eight from the National Democratic Institute for International Relations, four from the European Parliament, four from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, three from the European Committee for Human Rights, one from the International Republican Institute, and one from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

A total of 134 observers from foreign states will monitor Ukraine’s elections, including 36 from Poland, 29 from Russia, 28 from the United States, 19 from Hungary, five from Germany, five from France, four from Canada, three from the Netherlands, three from Turkey, one from Kazakhstan and one from Britain.

In addition, the CEC registered 1,913 official observers from Ukrainian organizations, including 1,151 from the Ukrainian NGO Opora Civil Network, 645 from the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, and 117 from the Front for Change.

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And so the vote buying begins…….

October 28, 2010

Well dear readers, as is an unfortunate normailty in Ukraine, people are now knocking on the doors, buying votes.

You can tell there is a crisis though, Party Rondina is only offering UAH 70 whilst Strong Ukraine UAH 50 to vote for them.

Maybe local elections do not attract the same financial incentives of parliamentary elections when it was 10 times as much.  Maybe it is just a result of the financial crisis.

Either way, a vote is surely worth more than 70 UAH to those that seek it.

Why offer money at all to some who cannot vote becasue they are not a Ukrainian citizen but simply a Permanent Resident?  Guess I show as just another permanent registration on the list.

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Exit Polls

October 27, 2010

Well dear readers, with the regional and mayoral elections on 31st October……just a few days time…….this will no doubt muddy the waters of transparency…………

Due to lack of funds the Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF) is bound to cancel the previously planned national exit-poll at the local elections on October 31 in Odesa, Lviv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

DIF’s traditional partners on conducting exit polls – the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) and the Razumkov Center – had submitted applications to several international organizations, in particular, the International Renaissance Foundation, on funding for this project. However, none of them expressed readiness to finance the exit poll. This decision confirms once again that the international community loses interest in Ukraine. The Democratic Initiatives Foundation has held exit polls at all elections since 1998.

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Dear Spammers

October 26, 2010

Dear Spammers, so far I have been sent 2205 spam comments relating all manner of unconnected rubbish to various posts.

If you intend to try and spam my blog, please at the very least try and place your spam comments under a heading that may actually trick me into letting it through.

Whilst I accept that in some opinions there is a connection between penis enlargement and the politics of Ukraine or on-line gambling and beaches in Odessa quite frankly it is not a connection that will get passed me easily and thus be published.

I would be quite happy to highlight anything you have to say if I consider it connected to Ukraine and worthy of further examination or could be of benefit to any readers in or visiting Ukraine……but it is my blog, I have lived here for a lot of years and as I vet all comments vefore they are published……..do not hold your breath.

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State TV Ukraine

October 25, 2010

Well dear readers, after several years of ignoring PACE recommendations for Ukraine to have a State TV channel…..similar to the BBC one has to assume rather than a copy of that in North Korea……it seems to have become a reality……kind of.

The channel exists although the “management committee” can be seen as somewhat less than independent in the case of certain individuals.

That said, is there a State TV channel that is independent considering in one way or another they rely on the State for their very existance.  At best we can say some are (at least seemingly) more independent than others when it comes to any content broadcast.

Anyway, Google search fingers at the ready, here’s you full list of names…….

Ukrainian Vice Premier Borys Kolesnikov was appointed as head of the supervisory commission of NTCU, and Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Hanna Herman became his deputy (by consent).

The supervisory committee also includes the director of the television and radio department of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee, Serhiy Abramov, Head of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting Volodymyr Manzhosov (by consent), Chairman of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee Yuriy Plaksiuk, Vice President of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine Ihor Bezgin (by consent), Chairman of the Joint Trade Union of Primary Organizations of State Television and Radio Broadcasting Yuriy Holubov (by consent), Deputy Justice Minister of Ukraine Lidia Horbunova, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister of Ukraine Tymofiy Kokhan, First Deputy Chairman of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee Oleksandr Kurdinovych, Chairman of the Viacheslav Chornovil Free Journalism Foundation Dmytro Ponomarchuk (by consent), Deputy Finance Minister Serhiy Rybak, Head of the information and mass communications department of the Cabinet of Ministers Ihor Storozhuk, Art Director of the Ivan Franko National Drama Theatre Bohdan Stupka (by consent), and Deputy Chairman of the National Union of Cinematographers of Ukraine Oleh Fialko (by consent).

Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Anatoliy Tolstoukhov became the head of the supervisory committee of NRCU and Head of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee Yuriy Plaksiuk was appointed his deputy.

The supervisory board also includes: Rector of The Karpenko-Kary Kyiv National University of Theatre, Cinema and Television Oleksiy Bezgin (by consent), Deputy Justice Minister Lidia Horbunova, Rector of R.M.Glier Kyiv State Higher Music College Oleksandr Zlotnyk (by consent), First Deputy Chairman of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee Oleksandr Kurdinovych, Director General of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine Dmytro Ostapenko (by consent), Deputy Finance Minister Serhiy Rybak, Chairman of the Ukrainian Composers’ Union Yevhen Stankovych (by consent), and Head of the information and mass communications department of the Cabinet of Ministers Ihor Storozhuk.

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