Archive for November 7th, 2015


The predicted return of Nalyvaychenko – right on cue?

November 7, 2015

On 22 June 2015, an entry following the predicted sacking of then SBU (Secret Services) Chief Valentyn Nalyvaychenko for seemingly entirely political reasons, made the prediction that after a few months in relative obscurity he would return to the public realm – “Credit where credit is due, particularly when recognising what a shambles he inherited. Though the SBU be far from fixed, it is in far better shape than it was 18 months ago.

Although it was not the plan to sack Mr Nalyvaychenko, thus throwing a man who was on national television/in the national media daily directly into the political fracas, that is what has happened.

Mr Nalyvaychenko is an ambitious man with political goals. The plan to move him to a far less public role as head of the Foreign Intelligence Unit and quietly dismiss him some months into the future was clearly a plan to neuter those ambitious political goals. Far too obvious to far too many, including Mr Nalyvaychenko. Thus he was faced with a quiet neutering once out of the public eye, or to throw himself into the political fracas upon being removed from office and hoping that he can retain enough of a public persona to remain relevant and gain some political traction prior to the next presidential (and parliamentary) elections.

Though time will tell (as it always does), on balance being publicly pushed rather than horizontally moved into obscurity and quietly dismissed, may well be his best option. It is the option he has chosen to take anyway.

We should not be surprised perhaps if over the next few months and years, not only does a political party arrive headed by Mr Nalyvaycehnko, but that the seeds of political ambition held by Mr Nalyvaychenko are watered and fed by those with a skilled historical hand behind the Ukrainian political curtain. The bounty of such cultivation now may not be reaped at the next elections – but those afterwards?”


A few months have now past, so what of Valentyn Nalyvaychenko and the prediction that he would surface once again about now – political ambition watered from behind the curtain and intent telegraphed?

On cue, Mr Nalyvaychenko announced the creation of a NGO – “Anti-Corruption Movement” on 16th October – allegedly a NGO with no political agenda.  At its launch and obligatory press conference, Mr Nalyvaychenko stated “You see the representatives and coordinators of NGO Anti-Corruption Movement. It brings together many activists.

We are moving and continue to fight against corruption. We insist that the Ukrainian corruption has surnames directly among the Ukrainian authorities.”

He went on to state that the previous day, 15th October, materials proving corrupt actions on the part of incumbent government representatives were presented at a session of the Parliamentary Committee on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

Yehor Firsov MP (Solidarity Party), a coordinator for the newly formed (and non-political) NGO, at the press conference called on parliamentarians of all parties to join the movement – except those of the former Party of Regions and Communist Party.

Thus Mr Nalyvaychenko’s civil society entity – an entity that has (claimed) no political agenda, yet that is targeting the government that sacked him (for seemingly purely political reasons), which is coordinated by current politicians, and that calls upon politicians of all parties to join the movement, except for politicians from two political parties that no longer take part in national politics – is born.

No mention, once again, of going after the corrupt oligarchy – perhaps unsurprisingly when it is clear that Mr Nalyvaychenko’s demise as SBU Chief was entirely predictable for political reasons due to his association with Dmirty Firtash – “Firtash exile under US pressure had been enough for the Poroshenko side until Mr Firtash broke confidences in saving himself from US extradition.

The moment those confidences were broken is a Vienna courtroom, the position of Mr Nalyvaychenko as SBU head (and possibly other “Firtash people”) was doomed. It was a matter of months at most (a reshuffle is expected in the Autumn, of Cabinet and senior positions), or perhaps even weeks.

A “Firtash man” could no longer continue to head the SBU once confidential agreements had been broken between Messrs Firtash and Poroshenko.

The demise of Mr Nalyvaychenko has no doubt been expedited by Mr Firtash appearing on the Russian television channel Russia-24 yesterday calling on President Poroshenko to collapse the Rada. The timescale for the removal of Mr Nalyvaychenko as SBU head should now be measured in minutes, hours and days, rather than weeks or months.

President Poroshenko now has to act. Politically he has no other choice. Any reshuffle is simply too far away after this latest Firtash attack.”

Having then rightly predicted the demise, and reasons for, the sacking of Mr Nalyvaychenko back in June, and at that time rightly predicting his return to the public realm a few months later, which has now occurred by way of the “Anti-Corrutption Movement” NGO with “no political agenda”, despite it only seemingly targeting politicians and having politicians amongst its number – to deliberately labour the point once more – the unfulfilled prediction is the emergence of a political party prior to any national or presidential elections of which he will head.

As with comedy, politics is a matter of timing (and in Ukraine it is often difficult to differentiate between comedy (and/or satire) and politics).


“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” – Aristotle

A matter of days after the official launch of the Anti-Corruption Movement, Mr Nalyvaychenko publicly raised the issue of Kremlin involvement (and particularly that of The Kremlin’s Grey Cardinal Vladislav Surkov) in the EuroMaidan killings, inferring inaction by Prosecutor General Shokin.

In a nutshell Mr Nalyvaychenko contending there was evidence, and the Prosecutor General rebutting stating there was insufficient evidence.  Whom a reader believes is a matter for the reader – perhaps both are correct and it is a matter of having different perceptions of what is sufficient for a court of law.

Whatever the case, it is the timing of Mr Nalyvaychenko’s statement, 6 days before the local elections in Ukraine that is more important when considering his political ambitions.  It is a statement that could have been made at any time when all is said and done.  Thus was it to influence the local elections and cast (further) aspersions upon the character of the government prior to polling day, was it to provide continuing momentum for his revived public profile via the Anti-Corruption Movement a few days after launch, or both?

How will the Anti-Corruption Movement perform as a platform for the political return of Mr Nalyvaychenko?

Will it morph into a political party as “Team Saakashvili” probably will when it becomes clear whether the anticipated early Spring 2016 Verkhovna Rada elections may occur – or not?

Is this a false start?  A matter of poor timing if early Verkhovna Rada elections fail to materialise?

If so, will he then simply ride the anti-corruption NGO, intermittently putting convincing evidence in the public realm over the coming months (and years) to retain some momentum and keep a public profile, with an “independent” run for president in mind – forgoing any thoughts of the Verkhovna Rada?

Certainly the public will be demanding alternatives to President Poroshenko by the time the next scheduled elections arrive, and a cast of the same old faces (Tymoshenko etc), or individual parts of the combined cast from the current Cabinet of Ministers (Avakov etc) are not likely to enthuse the electorate unless there is significant and sustained reform between now and then.  Perhaps somebody in politics but out of politics may find some traction?

The key question for Mr Nalyvaychenko is whether he can maintain the momentum of an October return to the public arena?


A strange week – a bit of policy and early elections

November 7, 2015

It has been a strange week for the author of this blog.  So unusually there will be a small mention of those personal events which will then lead to a bit of policy – as both are actually connected, albeit tenuously.

Firstly, “those people” behind two MPs (national not local administration) have sought council (such as it is) with your author over policy in preparation for early Verkhovna Rada elections which are heavily rumoured for the Spring 2016 (and thus before 1st July when the far more transparency promoting “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning prevention and counteraction to political corruption” take effect – one last national hurrah for the usual corrupt political practices perhaps, and hence the otherwise inexplicable delay in these amendments taking effect).  Yet it is far from a certainty that early Verkhovna Rada elections there will be.

Nevertheless, that both are lining up their political ducks for a slow burning campaign to begin immediately after the New Year would suggest they feel it likely enough to attempt to steal the march on others.

PigTo be entirely blunt, with regard to one of the MPs, although “his people” are all OK people, it would be like putting policy lipstick on a political personality pig.  Perhaps less so for the other individual, despite on occasion displaying some very boar-like tendencies.

The thing about policy is that there are really only three types – Effective, ineffective and counterproductive (regardless of the policy content).

Of course, policy has to be sold to the voting constituents as a policy belonging to “MP X” or “Party Y” if it is to become part of the foundation to any slow-burning and unofficial political campaigning before the official electoral starters gun is fired (and therefore has to be seen to be “standard politicking” thus remaining within the electoral rules – until, per tradition, everybody breaks them en masse and fragrantly once official campaigning starts).

In short, to lay claim to a policy and frame it under whatever personal branding now(ish) provides for the first framing of policy.  And he/she that frames first and frames well, normally wins the policy argument.

So what should an MP wanting local constituency support, but a parliamentary seat nationally (and therefore seen as too distant to change things locally) look for in a policy?  Perhaps one that if ineffectively implemented nationally, could still be effectively implemented locally – particularly so as “decentralisation” could provide for local successes in policy, despite general national failures.

There are perhaps many policy areas to choose from that could fit – and whilst they can be clearly ambitious, they should also be measurable and consideration given to time both in implementation, delivery, and when anticipated results are tangibly expected – how else to conduct a policy review otherwise?

If the politicians in question are already somewhat “tarnished”, or “underachieving” or otherwise “lacking credibility” after years of abusing both political system and the voting constituency (notwithstanding ignoring the rule of law when expedient), then a policy that covers the widest demographic helps improve electoral chances (depending upon their perceived level of democratic and political debauchery – some MPs are hopefully beyond helping when laid before the alter of public opinion).

Nevertheless, policy is policy regardless of the political mouthpiece.  Message and not messenger.  In a nation devoid of ideology within political parties there is perhaps no need for concern over ideological framing – especially so if the orator/promoter of policy has been in several political parties during a political career – as many have in Ukraine.

In such a mercantile city and oblast as Odessa, the regional economy would seem a reasonable policy topic that could either enhance national policy or be somewhat resilient to it.

Yet economics is not an exact science and also economics is a word that makes many people stop listening.  Therefore any such policy would have to be framed around the improvement in the quality of life.  Everybody wants an improvement in their quality of life.

How will the policy change lives?  There is a need to create jobs, generate business competitiveness, and advance sustainable development.  How will the policy overcome development obstacles in certain parts of Odessa Oblast, that are not faced by the others?

Should one of the aims to be increase Oblast cohesion, or leave every Mayor and regional Chairperson to do their own thing under “decentralisation”?  Any such policy should be about growth across all districts to improve opportunity and quality of life – not just about regional fiscal redistribution.

How to make the most of every Kopeek when every Kopeek is not only scarce but prone to be spent unwisely (if not stolen)?  How to formulate a policy that will encourage additional private domestic, and external investment?  Tangible results are expected from such a policy after all.

How effective (regardless of how prickly) will the interaction and common purpose be between MPs, Governer, Oblast Chairperson and City Mayors?

How to finance new initiatives?  When selling any such policy is it wise to talk in numbers?  If so which numbers?  Is it easier to sell reducing budget headers by 1.2% of the regional budget for X, 1.5% for Y and 1.3% from budget Z in order to create a “Seed Fund” for SMEs of 5% of the regional budget or as a UAH/$ figure?  Should any such Oblast fund then be allocated in the form of grants, or perhaps as low-cost loans given the inaccessibility of affordable banking?  Can it be leveraged with the EBRD, or WB etc?  Who should administer it?  What of transparency and the need for independence when issuing such loans or grants to SMEs?  What becomes of the grant and loan money for SMEs now?  Where does it go?  Dose anybody know?

Is it possible to incentivise a small community that gives a collective yawn when energy efficiency is mentioned, by stating if in 3 months “x amount” of energy be saved, equaling UAH/$ Y, such energy savings will deliver the much sought school crossing point?  In doing so how does that fit with any national energy efficiency policy?

How to increasingly simplify local processes and yet increase public accountability and public auditing?

What about the administrative capacity and quality?  In achieving results and value for money, good project management, financial management and public administration training are essential lest they become a policy bottleneck (or node for corruption).

(This same week your author was asked to consider joining “the Board” of a NGO – a NGO that deals with all within the paragraph immediately above.)

Having stated all the above to “the people” around these MPs, and asked the same questions as those above, it will be interesting to see whether council is sought over the possible answers (for these are not new issues and have therefore been addressed by others before) and a slow-burning “policy campaign” (and a “policy campaign” would be a first for politics in Odessa) will be unofficially launched immediately after the New Year – or not.

Cynically, one has to suspect that the delay until 1st July 2016 regarding the activation of the “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning prevention and counteraction to political corruption” is a very deliberate move to facilitate the same old dirty political machinery in any early Verkhovna Rada elections.  It may yet be that these 2 MPs will simply default to tried and tested odious and nefarious methods rather than try something new – like policy in their campaigning.  It is though perhaps a sign of political progress that policy is even being considered for an electoral campaign!

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