Archive for February, 2011


Ukrainians should not be afraid of telling the truth

February 28, 2011

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine and Batkivschyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko has proposed a plan for fighting against the current authorities, the first step of which she said would be to release truthful information.

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine and Batkivschyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko has proposed a plan for fighting against the current authorities, the first step of which she said would be to release truthful information.

“What should people do today who do not want such government? First of all – do not be afraid! … A plan of battle is needed that is clear to every patriot and that everybody can take part in. The first step of this plan is to combat the numbing of the mind,” Tymoshenko said in a statement posted on her personal Web site.

She said freedom of speech “exists on the Internet, there are honest journalists, there is the truth, but not everybody has access to the Internet.”

Tymoshenko said she believed that the government could be changed only “when people begin to see clearly, when they understand.”

“And let Yanukovych today celebrate his anniversary [the first year of coming to power] and try to convince himself that he [will be in power] seriously and for a long period of time. We do not agree with him, and state that the mafia will not govern Ukraine! We will not allow this!” Tymoshenko wrote.

What a brilliant idea!

Let’s start by, as she says, the “release truthful information”. Forget all the partisan bickering from politicians and paid commentators and biased experts who rely on a political faction for funding.  Let’s have the truth.  Let’s have cold hard facts for the court of public opinion to judge.  Not just current truths and future truths, let’s be able to look at the past as well.

Let’s see for ourselves, the gas deal she signed with Putin.  Let’s see for ourselves the government accounts so we can see if Kyoto funds were temporarily diverted from their purpose.  Let’s see the evidence against the officials from her time in government and throw it out the the jury of Ukrainian public opinion.  Let’s see the government procurements, middle-men, shell companies and facilitations fees involved, past and present.

Whilst we are at it, let’s release the documents relating to Yushenko’s poisoning, the Gongladze murder, the documents relating to her association with former ministers currently jailed in the US for money laundering.

No Ukrainian should be afraid of telling the truth, so let’s “release truthful information” from the Kravchuk, Kuchma, Yushenko and Yanukovych presidencies.   Let’s allow the public to scruitinise that past 18 years of government contracts, accounts, payments, properties, sales and purchases.  Let’s allow the Ukrainian public the opportunity of their own forensic accounting and Internet detective work.

Where ever the brown smelly stuff falls from the “release truthful information” then let it fall, even if it means her white Louis Vuitton handbag and designer suit get some unfortunate and difficult to remove stains upon it.

Leaders lead by example, so Ms Tymoshenko, so let’s have it then – you’ve no need to be afraid of the truth!


Odessa schools shut next week

February 27, 2011

Well dear readers, about one month later than normal, the annual closure of educational establishments in Odessa for quarantine reasons has been announced.

The lad was starting to wonder if his unofficial holidays due to flu quarantine were going to be canceled this year – fear not young Vlad, fear not, the annual school closures have now been announced!


OK – Who does not recognise this?

February 26, 2011

Well dear readers, unashamedly I am posting a joke (well it is a joke but recognised by us all as reality) told to me by someone I know:

A woman in a hot air balloon realised she was lost. She reduced altitude and spotted a man below. She descended a bit more and shouted: “‘Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago but I don’t know where I am”.

The man below replied “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude”. “You must be an Engineer” said the balloonist. “I am” replied the man “how did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you have told me is probably technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information and the fact is, I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip with your talk.”

The man below responded “You must be in management”. “I am” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?” “Well,” said the man “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my f***ing fault.”

So who didn’t recognise this……….anyone?


A few words of congratulations…..

February 25, 2011

Well dear readers, taking a break from the larger happenings in Ukraine and elsewhere, a few words of congratulations are in order for a few people.

Firstly to a friend and his good lady Anya up in Kyiv, congratulations on the safe arrival of your daughter Kira.

Secondly congratulations to my cousin Matthew.  The poor lad has been a lecturer at Strathclyde  University these past few years and has managed, whilst in Scotland to get himself married and have 2 children.

I was informed yesterday that he has managed to secure his dream job lecturing at Oxford University from June and is currently working his 3 month notice period.

As Oxford is my second favourite UK city, behind my own of course, I now have even more reason to indulge myself in Oxford than I had before on the rare occasion I am back in Blighty.

OK – That’s all, normal service will resume tomorrow!


Procurement Law Amendments cause Euro aid suspension

February 24, 2011

Well dear readers, an unashamed copy/cut and paste from Reuters (with my own emphasis added):

The European Union will hold up about 100 million euros in aid allocated for Ukraine until the former Soviet republic amends its law governing purchases of goods and services by the state, an EU diplomat said on Wednesday, February 23.

The suspension concerns budget support programmes under which funds are managed by the Ukrainian side, Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, head of the EU delegation to Ukraine, told reporters.

“All the programmes of this type will be interrupted until we have guarantees that public procurement is done in a transparent and accountable way,” Teixeira said.

Only one disbursement of about 30 million euros has been suspended so far, he said. For the whole of 2011, Ukraine’s cash-strapped government was due to receive about 100 million euros in budget support.

Ukraine adopted a new law on public procurement — purchases by government bodies and state-run companies — last June in what the government said was a demonstration of its commitment to reforms.

Teixeira said the law was initially compliant with EU standards. But several amendments introduced in the second half of 2010 have limited its scope by introducing a number of exceptions to normal procurement procedures.

Public procurement is often used by corrupt officials across the former Soviet Union to extract personal gains by rigging tenders in favour of affiliated suppliers, making purchases at inflated prices and receiving kickbacks from businesses.

Ukraine is no exception and the country’s public procurement system, according to the latest periodical investment report by the U.S. State Department, has been plagued by corruption for years.

But Teixeira said he hoped the government and the parliament would soon improve the procurement law. The EU continues to support Ukraine through programmes where funds are managed by other entities such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. “It is not an exceptional situation for us,” he said. “I am convinced we are going to resolve this issue.”

The EU are of course quite right to do what they are doing.

Without doubt the EU are well equipped to understand corruption and procurement issues considering that for the last 16 years not one auditor has agreed to sign of EU accounts due to fraud, poor accounting and lacking audit trails etc etc.

Last year was not any different with auditors citing 33% of EU monies not properly accounted for……thus EU accounts not signed off again by auditors.

Unfortunately the EU is a prime example of having the laws (that Ukraine initially, prior to later amendments, mirrored) that proves unless the laws are implemented and people are held accountable, makes the laws worthless……16 years on, nobody within the EU has yet been held accountable for 33% of unaudited money for this entire period!

The EU still has a lot of tricks to teach Ukraine when it comes to fiscal non-accountability…..but it seems Ukraine will, for now, have to fall within the 66% of accounted for funds.

All that said, Euro 100 million is not exactly a lot of money when you are talking about the EU or Ukraine…….it’s just a lot to the likes of you and me.


Inverted Triangles – 100,000 police to go

February 23, 2011

Well dear readers, it seems that some inverted management triangles within the old structures are going to change.

As part of the current administrative reform, the Yanukovych administration will lay off 100,000 police officers, Yury Kazansky of the interior ministry personnel -AAA+
department said, speaking to journalists Feb. 22. -AAA+

Among others, 40 generals and 1,600 colonels are to be retired, Bahnet reports.

At present, the interior ministry strength is 295,000 officers. According to Interior Minister Mohyliov, the ministry structure resembles a triangle, with its top pointed to the bottom and a cumbersome red-tape apparat over it. The aim of the reform is to overturn the triangle, Kazansky said.

Of the 100 generals now serving in the ministry only 60 will remain.

The lay-offs will make it possible to raise the salaries of the remaining staff, Kazansky said.

If true and this does happen – bravo!!


Putting your money where you mouth is

February 22, 2011

Well dear readers, in times where fiscal restraint is the policy of Europe but agreements are binding within the behemoth that is the EU, one has to wonder how events in North Africa are being fore-casted within the EU itself.

One of the major reasons for the EU interest in, at the very least, official association agreements with Moldova and Ukraine is border security and introducing a buffer zone between the EU proper and nations with a populous seeking to disappear within the EU.

It is hardly ever spoken of, trade, travel, law and almost any other issue is trumpeted by both sides, but protecting the EU nations from immigrants and asylum seekers is very much a huge part of the deal between the EU and Ukraine when association/partnership agreements get signed.

Tremendous progress has been made over the past few years by Ukraine and the EU towards the immigration/asylum issue as the asylum/immigration centres on the outskirts of Odessa prove…..being rather full.

However these centres were built with EU money, quite rightly as it is in the EU interest Ukraine helps defend the borders of Poland and Romania etc from illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.  You cannot claim asylum in the EU if you do not actually set foot in the EU.

One would expect that these immigration centres costs are probably covered by EU money either transparently or opaquely.

However, the situation in North Africa is changing, as 5000 illegals from Tunisia landing in a weekend in Italy displays, and the EU’s best friend in North Africa when it comes to stopping the tide of immigrants and asylum seekers, one Colonel Mummar al-Gaddafi, is currently suppressing quite brutally, protests aimed at changes in Libya.  Who knows if his regime will survive?

The EU pays Colonel Gaddafi to dissuade/stop/hinder illegals and asylum seekers leaving North Africa very, very well… doubt turning a blind eye to the methods used to do it.

However, there is only so much money in these times of austerity within the EU to deal with any specific problem in any specific area.

This being the case, will the money currently being spent and allocated towards the eastern European nations like Ukraine to protect the EU borders now need to be redirected towards the southern nations of the EU like Spain, France and Greece?

Will there be concessions made to Turkey and its EU progress to facilitate proactive assistance thus causing minimal budgetary costs to the EU and saving any EU funds being swallowed in the Greek fiscal vacuum?

Will the EU support Colonel Gaddafi regardless of his actions in Libya in an effort to continue to have his assistance with protecting the EU borders?

Will Ukrainian and Moldovan funding be moved from the eastern nations to the southern ones to fund defences against what is likely to be a small but significant exodus from North Africa during any power vacuums?

Is there room in the existing agreements for funding to allow that money to be redirected contractually?

When putting your money where your mouth is, does it pay to have 27 mouths, some facing east and others facing south?

It will be interesting to watch how the EU reacts to these events, and what effects, if any, there are on Ukraine.


Mixed messages……or chrystal clear?

February 21, 2011

What is being said here?

We must unite. Our chance is the next parliamentary democratic election.”  Yulia Tymoshenko – Ukrainian Unity Day, January 2011.

“Batkivshyna party will never unite with other parties which call themselves opposition but in fact are controlled by the ruling Party of Regions (without specifying which exactly parties she was speaking about).  They are departments of the Party of Regions. Can we unite with the Party of Regions’ departments?” Yulia Tymoshenko – TBi channel 17 February 2011.

Why is she saying this?

Well because, as I have mentioned in previous blog entries in January, Front for Change Party (leader Arseniy Yatseniuk), the Civil Position Party, the European Party of Ukraine and the Sobor Republican Party (leader Anatoliy Matviyenko) had held talks on possible unification or the creation of a single opposition party……in fact the aforementioned EPU and SRP and have announced they will merge into one party already.

All the opposition parties are in merger talks except the ultra-nationalist Svoboda and Ms Tymoshenko’s Batkivshyna Party as neither have been invited.

Svoboda being politically slightly to the right of Nazism (and openly embracing it) is not really a political position held by all those in talks.

When it comes to the Batkivshyna Party there are several issues that present impasse towards any unity.

One, and very often overlooked by external armchair political commentators, is that all the opposition parties, aside from being in opposition, do not sit in the same part of the political spectrum ranging from “left to right”.

If I had to place the opposition parties on a “left of centre/right of centre” graphic, the majority would sit centre or right of centre.  Batkivshyna Party (and Ms Tymoshenko) I would put firmly on the “left of centre”.

Unity for the sake of simply having one thing in common, currently being in opposition, ceases to be unity should they win and the true political positions of parties then come to the fore and fight amongst themselves over governmental policy.

The other enormous hurdle is Ms Tymoshenko herself.  No other opposition party will want to be associated with her – period.

So what is the message Ms Tymoshenko is giving?

Answer – It’s all about her and the rest are fake?  It is a position that is wearing thin 1 year on from loosing power and having achieved exactly nothing as far as uniting the opposition is concerned, or holding the government to account on anything.

Vision, strategy, alternatives?  Come on  Batkivshyna, amongst your ever defecting MPs there are one or two very bright and capable politicians.  If you want a chance at remaining relevant, a leadership challenge now or defecting to Front for Change soon, are becoming your only viable options.

Ms Tymoshenko is assuming the leadership mantra within the Batkivshyna Party parallel to the leadership of Captain Ahab on the Pequod…….and we know how that ended.

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