Archive for the ‘Ukraine’ Category


Tymoshenko announces presidential run (and a questionable first act)

June 20, 2018

Mindful as the blog is that the previous entry had Ms Tymoshenko on centre stage, unfortunately a reader is once again to be subjected to more Ms Tymoshenko.  It will not become habitual – guaranteed – for there are few things more mind-numbing than writing about the flapdoodle spouted by Ms Tymoshenko.

Unsurprisingly Yulia Tymoshenko has announced that she will run for the Ukrainian presidency in March 2019 – as if there was any doubt.  How could her ego allow her not to do so?  Thus more 20 years of her political experience in abjectly and consistently failing the Ukrainian constituency will once again attempt to reach the highest office in the land and satisfy her ego to the detriment of the nation.  (Lord help us all!)

In announcing her presidential run Ms Tymoshenko stated “I will run for the presidency of Ukraine, but I do not run for the sake of simply playing authoritarianism and the monopoly of power.  For me, the presidential post is not a Playstation, but there are real changes that the country is waiting for.  

If I win in the presidential election, I will immediately hold a referendum, at which I will propose the adoption of the new Constitution of Ukraine as a real social contract, demonopolise power, on the one hand, make it stronger in terms of implementing strategies, and on the other hand, make it properly organised and balanced, controlled by society.  

A large group of scientists and jurists are working now to create the concept of a new Constitution, then this project must be submitted to a referendum, the new president must first adopt a new constitution and implement it. new, strong, the best Constitution in the world.”


All readers and Ukrainian constituents must be pleased that Ms Tymoshenko does not consider the presidency a Playstation.

They may even be pleased to read/hear that she runs not simply for the sake of “authoritarianism and the monopoly of power” too – for that infers that apart from grabbing an authoritarian monopoly on power, she has something else in mind to do afterward (beyond reassigning corrupt money flows within her elite).

The first thing she will do, she claims, is to call a referendum to replace the Constitution.

Now there is no doubt that the Constitution requires changing.

In some areas it is too broad and in others far too detailed where subservient statute should take on such a role.  The parliamentary-presidential system of governance that theoretically exists within the Constitution could certainly do with more robust prose to keep a president off of the parliamentary grass – for anybody that looks in at Ukraine would think that it runs as a presidential-parliamentary system instead.  Perhaps a review (and removal of some) presidential powers is required.

However, the political question is whether it is wise to throw out the current Constitution entirely and replace it completely and in one go – or whether to amend it piecemeal.

After all, not all of the current Constitution is poor – indeed most of it is OK.

Much comes down to whether a Verkhovna Rada could consistently find 300 votes required for piecemeal constitutional change over a prolonged period of time, or whether a “wanna-be” President Tymoshenko believes she will only ever manage to gather 300 parliamentary votes once – and at the beginning of her presidency.

Perhaps she intends to take such a referendum to the people of Ukraine – who would have just voted in presidential elections and who face Verkhovna Rada elections in the October?  Does she intend to have the national constituency vote again between these two votes?  How will she achieve that when she would inherit a Verkhovna Rada that she does not control – indeed being one of the smallest parties there after the last elections – and which will itself be in “electioneering mode”.

However she does it, such a referendum would have to be carried out legally under the current constitution – so options?

Section III, Article 72 “An all-Ukrainian referendum is appointed by Supreme Soviet of Ukraine or the President of Ukraine in accordance with their plenary powers set by this Constitution.  An all-Ukrainian referendum is proclaimed on a folk initiative when no less as three million of which have, on condition that signatures in relation to the setting of the referendum, are collected more (no less) in two third of regions, and more (no less) than one hundred thousand signatures in every region.”     In short, if the people call for a referendum, they have almost had a referendum to call to have a referendum in the first place.  Not the most practical solution.  Further any referendum by the people has an entirely unpredictable outcome.

Section V, Article 106(6) – “appoints an all-Ukrainian referendum in relation to the changes of Constitution of Ukraine in accordance with the Article 156 of this Constitution, proclaims an all-Ukrainian referendum on folk initiative” – Make haste then to Article 156!

Section XIII, Article 156 – “About bringing of changes to the section “General basis”, Section III “Elections. Referendum” and to the section of a XIII “Bringing of changes to Constitution of Ukraine” is given in Supreme Soviet of Ukraine by the President of Ukraine or more (no less) as by the two third from constitutional composition of Supreme Soviet of Ukraine and, on condition of his acceptance more (no less) as by the two third from constitutional composition of Supreme Soviet of Ukraine, becomes firmly established an all-Ukrainian referendum which is appointed by President of Ukraine.” – In short 300 (no less) parliamentary votes required.  300 votes Ms Tymoshenko will not have within the current Verkhovna Rada should she win – and to be blunt, she will not have 300 votes within the Verkhovna Rada after the October 2019 parliamentary elections either.

In fact she would do extremely well to cobble together a coalition parliamentary majority of 226 that will survive 18 months in power – let alone a constitution-changing 300!  A coalition will be required for passing the most standard of statute for any that can both stomach and last in a coalition with Ms Tymoshenko – and history would suggest they don’t last long under her leadership.  A reader will recall the blog has oft stated, you work for Yulia T, or you work against Yulia T – but you cannot work with Yulia T (for long).

As soon as she fails to control a parliamentary majority she fails as a president (so 18 months effectiveness at most).  Certainly at the time of writing her Batkivshchyna Party will not manage to accumulate 226 parliamentarians at the next elections.  A number that requires no coalition.

However, Ms Tymoshenko is very well aware that she is incapable of sharing power and the limitations her ego puts upon her ability to work with others.  She is thus very well aware that she will not keep a parliamentary coalition together for long under her presidency.  She does have a remedy for this certain eventuality – albeit very dubious in the context of democratic representation of the national constituency.

In order to mitigate the fact that Ms Tymoshenko cannot work with other people or share any form of power, Ms Tymoshenko has publicly proposed a plan to insure a Batkivshchyna Party majority that does not rely upon coalition building.  Ms Tymoshenko proposes taking Ukraine back to a post-war (West) Germany circa 1949.  In short she proposes two rounds of voting for parliament, with the winning party, regardless of size of the winning vote, automatically gaining 226 parliamentary seats (a majority) while all others go into opposition and share 224 seats between them.  Ms Tymoshenko would have her average 15% or so of the national vote give her an automatic majority, while the vastly overwhelming majority of votes for anybody except her and her party, gain a parliamentary minority.

While a reader may ponder the democratic aspects of her plan/proposal to insure a 226 absolute majority, that number is still nowhere near the 300 required for matters of the Constitution.

Thus whoever the international experts and jurists (didn’t they participate in the drafting of the current Constitution? (rhetorical question)) engaged by Ms Tymoshenko to draft a new Constitution, they will have to deliver a stroke of legislative genius to gather 300 parliamentary votes.

Further, as with all Verkhovna Rada issues, there will be Verkhovna Rada Committee suggested amendments, thousands of amendments suggested by parliamentarians, and no doubt, numerous appeals to the Constitutional Court that any new Tymoshenko Constitution will be, in fact, unconstitutional.

Naturally a reader will also ponder several other questions after Ms Tymoshenko’s formal declaration of presidential candidacy.  What now constitutes official electioneering, how much will it cost over the 9 months ahead, and will those expenditures and incomes be accurately recorded in the party accounts?

(And yes, naturally a reader is also questioning just who are, and how much are the “international experts and jurists” being paid by Ms Tymoshenko to write an entirely new Constitution too.)


“A New Course for Ukraine” – or not!

June 17, 2018

Following along fairly seamlessly from the last entry, an entry that pondered how “old faces” can create cross-cutting cleavages across the 20s-40s Ukrainian demographic from which they are more or less politically disavowed, and that concluded “Simply rebranding (again) will not work.  Ms Tymoshenko has been, remains, and will continue to be a disaster for Ukraine – however she may rebrand herself.  The current president is still an oligarch.  Boiko is still a Firtash man.  Lyashko is a populist (increasing on Akhmetov’s payroll).  And so it goes on whether the potential candidate be current or historically a Ukrainian politician who held (reasonably) high office.  Those perceptions have not and will not change.  None are “new faces”.

To get into the 30s-40s demographic, cross-cutting cleavages will have to be created – and that requires understanding just how these people understand their own identity, their needs, their wants, and their desires – and for the “old faces” named above, any attempt to do that now will very likely to be far too little,  and certainly far too late.

In fact 20 or more years too late for most of the “old faces” to be blunt.”  it seems Ms Tymoshenko is the first to come overtly out of the blocks with this very problem in mind.

As every man/woman and his/her dog will be attempting to target the SME/entrepreneurial 20-40 something voter to boost their otherwise very narrow loyalist voters bases, all will therefore need to be a little more clever than that.

Clearly the previous entry infers that President Poroshenko and The Bankova are attempting to create their own cross-cutting cleavages with the “Pink Vote”.  The 17th June, reasonably incident free “Kyiv Pride” march that appears to have been well policed, will no doubt be used to try and underscore the “pink vote” demographic in conjunction with the intent outlined in the aforementioned previous entry.

However, all “old faces” are going to need to create a large amount of cross-cutting cleavages across all the lines of identity to which to 20s-40s voter demographic relate.  Neither individual “pink” nor “SME/entrepreneur” flirtations will be sufficient to secure voter percentage points from this demographic that has long since shunned “old faces”.  A culmination of sources will be required.

On 15th June Ms Tymoshenko launched “New Course for Ukraine” – timely insomuch as it almost immediately followed the previous blog entry, and was seemingly aimed at creating fertile ground for new cross-cutting cleavages across demographic groups – and “New Course for Ukraine” is unmistakably aimed at the 20-40 somethings with no time for “old faces” such as Ms Tymoshenko.

This entry will not delve into the specifics of what appears to be mostly undeliverable policy prose and “suggestions” from Ms Tymoshenko during the “launch” (beginning of her overt presidential campaign).

Nor will it ponder what was almost a male stripper appearing on stage with Ms Tymoshenko.

Neither is the “new look” Ms Tymoshenko (minus peasant braids) worthy of comment.

The first noticeable error of her launch of this project was that she waffled on and on for about two hours.

Although not quite in the style of “Soviet monologue” attributable to many of her male peers, nevertheless it had the “Soviet timetable” of “far too long”.  Very few, if any 20-40 somethings will be prepared to sit and listen to an “old face” known for her estrangement from truth and gross warping of statistics, for that long.

To be blunt, she (like any “old face”) would be very fortunate to keep their attention for 20 minutes.  10-15 minutes is perhaps more likely.

Another point that was noticeable looking at the audience of gathered party faithful and apparatchiks, was that there were very few of the demographic “New Course for Ukraine” is targeting within the audience.  She employed a lexicon that will have been fairly alien to those gathered.  Her prose was littered with words and name-drops that most of those present would have had to Google to understand.

Her speech therefore, was clearly not intended for those of the party faithful gathered – but for the 20-40 something voters across Ukraine who she wants to convert (but almost certainly won’t).   It will take more than a speech or project littered with “Buzz-Word Bingo” for that demographic to forget that Ms Tymoshenko is a leopard with an “old face” who has never changed her spots throughout the duration of her political career.

Indeed neither are the 20-40 something demographic blind to the fact that the very well established Batkivshchyna party tentacles in every city, town and large village across Ukraine is replete with names that appear as much a crime syndicate as a political party.

In fact what was required of her to deliver was much less of a speech.  About 100 minutes less.  “New Course for Ukraine” will have to find some serious traction to undo her “anti-rating” and/or attract percentage points from the voter demographic she is clearly targeting.  Thus less is more as far as Ms Tymoshenko is concerned.

Ergo for the “old faces” targeting the 20-40 somethings, there is about 15 minutes of audience capture with that demographic, during which no more than five resonating policy points should be delivered – for by the end of the day few will remember all five policy points.  By the end of the week, fewer will remember three of those policy points.  By the end of a fortnight, most may recall only one policy point – that which they felt was most relevant to their needs, wants, desires and individual (and perhaps community) identity.

This is why new cross-cutting cleavages are so important for the “old faces” with no other method of influence over, or penetration within this demographic when it comes to vote capture.

Identity is a very complex thing.  It is made up of layers like an onion.  An individual may identify with themselves and their immediate family first and foremost.  Perhaps then their town, village or city.  Then perhaps their profession and hobbies. Religion – or not.  Their taste in music, and/or a sports team.  A penchant for dressing like a woman on Wednesday evenings and only answering to the name Doreen – whatever.  So the layers go upon layers that go upon yet more layers, until we all arrive at our individual and complex identities that make for a very busy Zen diagram that is very alien to the “old faces”.

An effective cross-cutting cleavage aims to pull a voter into the political fold via one (or preferably several) layers of their identity, as well as needs, wants and desires.  Yet to be effective that cross-cutting cleavage has to have sizable potential capture across many individuals within those demographic layers.  It also has to be attractive to the voter –  at least long enough for them to pay attention for 15 minutes..

This is most important for Ms Tymoshenko, as “New Course for Ukraine” is apparently (and wisely framed) not about Ms Tymoshenko – or at least prima facie that is what a voter is supposed to believe.

New Course for Ukraine” will be a success if the voters tell Ms Tymoshenko what they want – for she will then endeavor to make it part of a deliverable manifesto.   A thin veil over her ingrained populism perhaps – for governance is not always about delivering what the electorate want – sometimes it is about doing what they need (as unpopular as that can be).

Naturally the facade of the Ukrainian people writing Ms Tymoshenko’s policies is not what the party loyalists and faithful are used to.  They are used to the “work for Yulia” or “work against Yulia” for you can never “work with Yulia” perception that surrounds her (and is historically proven).

The age and rural demographics of the Tymoshenko voter are not necessarily that well aligned or understanding of this notional “e-policy making”, and the cynical will view this as nothing more than “on-line populism” and/or a way to fill social media with Ms Tymoshenko and the “New Course for Ukraine” – even if most of the social media content and comment turn out to be critical and/or satirical humour.

Nevertheless, some well-known names may play her game.  (Some no doubt will go on the payroll too).  Most however are likely to refuse invitations – after all 2024 is not that far away when “new faces” will certainly being timing their arrival and will be a far more appealing “ticket” to hold.

The first issue then, is whether “New Course for Ukraine” will gain any traction (beyond satire and social media mirth) and manage to create a voter delivering cross-cutting cleavage – and whether or not it does, just how soon Ms Tymoshenko reverts to type.

The second question will be whether any “peers” decide to follow her lead – or not.


Chasing the “pink vote”

June 13, 2018

Things are predictably bleak for the “old faces” of Ukrainian politics (and their big money).  Their political fates are decided by their “anti” (unpopularity) factor rather than their popularity.  Presidential elections are won and lost by the “anybody except candidate Y” votes.  In the absence of good or “different” candidates, elections are decided on the “least worst” basis.

The “old faces” have a very small percentage of loyal electorate that is still prepared to listen to their flapdoodle.  The Ukraine of today is not the Ukraine they cut their political teeth in (whilst gorging heartily at the trough of corruption).

Neither respect, nor fear of the political or oligarch caste is as it once was.  Those days have gone.  So to have the days when the political or oligarchy class can be particularly sure of their personal well-being if they go too far.  They are no longer, quite literally, untouchable – as many have discovered.

As such the “old faces” are fighting over a fairly narrow section of the electoral base if they are to project beyond their meager loyalist cores.  A good number of Ukrainians would vote for a new face simply to remove the old faces – be the outcome for better or for worse.

To be blunt at this election it would probably bring chaos, for a new face president must still command sufficient support within the Verkhovna Rada to get anything done. – meaning a new face would have to have a political foundation within the Verkhovna Rada.  At the moment there are no known new faces entering presidential elections, and thus there is no new political force to enter the parliamentary elections.

The result being that any new face would have to build a political force between the March presidential elections and the October Verkhovna Rada elections.

Irrespective of whether a new face actually won the presidential election, the next Verkhovna Rada may well be a coalition nightmare (a majority coalition perhaps requiring 3 or possibly 4 parties next time), so there is power to be found for a “new face” even when losing a presidential election if they can form a political force before October sufficient (through single party mandate MPs or passing the party 5% threshold) to gather together 15 – 20 MPs under their banner.

2024 will probably bring one or two new faces – so hang in there.  Only another 6 years to go unless a “new face” announces a run within the next 4 months.

In the meantime the “old faces” will have to try and woo the 20 – 40 somethings – the large demographic group that seeks “new faces”.  Ms Tymoshenko is apparently already out of the blocks, with a “new style”/imagery and (for now) a far less combative style.

No doubt Oleh Lyashko will make the most of this early and “subdued” start by Ms Tymoshenko.  Their core voting constituents are mostly the same demographic.  The better Lyashko does, the worse Tymoshenko will do and vice versa.

Mr Lyashko is not about to abandon his populist and combative style – particularly as Ms Tymoshenko attempts to take on the “agony aunt”/national psychotherapist (“Just tell Auntie Yulka”) role in early electioneering.   When Ms Tymoshenko returns to type (and she will) those “leopards and unchanging spots” will not be lost on those 30-40 somethings she is now setting out to woo.

To be fair, Messrs Poroshenko, Boiko, Lyashko et al also face the same electoral field with narrow support bases and little interest in their rhetoric.  All will be seen for their historical talking and limited walking (if they walked at all).

President Poroshenko has delivered (albeit it was not his work that negotiated it) the EU Association Agreement/DCFTA and Visa-free.  The military is in much better shape.  Decentralisation is more or less working.  If the Kyiv Patriarch receives autocephaly then more votes are likely to head toward President Poroshenko too.  In fact there is a fair amount of progress for him to be vocal about.

But as an incumbent it is the failures or delays that weigh more heavily with a voter – something the opposition candidates do not carry quite so overtly/heavily in the mind of a voter.  Judicial reform has proved to be something of a farce.  Anti-corruption measures appear to have been forced upon an unwilling Bankova – and when forced upon it, the perception of many is that it has consistently done the absolute minimum required and as slowly as is possible.   No big fish have been fried by the justice system – and the voters (rightly or wrongly) expected.

Fanciful promises made at the last election campaign that would never ever be fulfilled when foolishly made, will not be forgotten.  The war still rages.  The currency is now subject to market forces (rightly) – so currency promises will go unfilled.  And so on.  That may all be somewhat unfair (or not) – but politics is not fair, and such promises were unnecessarily made when President Poroshenko was elected.  He was not going to lose the last election.

Fortunately following Stockholm Arbitration Court hearings, Ms Tymoshenko’s disastrous gas deal of 2009 remains fresh in the news – and for it being an abominable deal to the severe detriment of Ukraine.  As that is perhaps her single notable policy contribution to Ukrainian politics in 20 years, it will be a hefty stick repeatedly wielded.

Yet there are vocal, young, and organised demographics to chase – among them the “pink vote”.

The political problem with the “pink vote” is that many core voters within the narrow voter bases of the “old faces” would find making promises and/or concessions to win the “pink vote” abhorrent.

So how to flirt sufficiently with the “pink vote” demographic without upsetting a loyal, narrow generally socially conservative core voter base?  A dilemma for any “old face”.

The answer appears to be to put the issue on the political agenda and make positive noises that many within the “pink” constituency would find desirable – but to frame the political timetable so that it tops the agenda after the presidential and Verkhovna Rada elections.  Better still not to frame the issue as LGBT necessarily (albeit it is), but as equal property rights for every Ukrainian citizen.

It may well be a baby step for LGBT rights in Ukraine, but apparently within the Justice Ministry there is draft legislation that states “legalization of registered civil partnership for heterosexual and same-sex couples taking into account property rights and non-property rights, in particular possession, inheritance of property, maintenance of one partner to others in case of incapacity for work and constitutional right not to testify against his partner.”  

Now that is not the legalisation of same-sex marriage – and that may never come – but this will be framed as human rights equality relating first and foremost to property issues.  Something that would probably be accepted by many voters without too much issue if so framed.

However the plan within the Justice Ministry is that this legislation will apparently reach the Verkhovna Rada timetable in “the fourth quarter of 2019”.  Thus after both March 2019 presidential elections and also after the October 2019 Verkhovna Rada elections, thus insuring few “conservative voters” from narrow “old faces” constituencies take fright.

The carrot for the “pink vote” being that a sufficient number of MPs will have to be elected by the party (or those parties) supporting this draft legislation  – so vote for the right party(s) if you want to see LGBT progress – even if framed as property rights for general consumption.

Naturally this will not be the only demographic that the “old faces” will be seeking to gain votes within.  The question is what can be delivered before the elections, or promised, or advocated for (with a realistic and believable chance of delivery) to cut into these demographics and create cross-cutting cleavages among an electorate otherwise completed turned off by the “old faces”?

We may soon see just how smart they can be – or not.

Simply rebranding (again) will not work.  Ms Tymoshenko has been, remains, and will continue to be a disaster for Ukraine – however she may rebrand herself.  The current president is still an oligarch.  Boiko is still a Firtash man.  Lyashko is a populist (increasing on Akhmetov’s payroll).  And so it goes on whether the potential candidate be current or historically a Ukrainian politician who held (reasonably) high office.  Those perceptions have not and will not change.  None are “new faces”.

To get into the 30s-40s demographic, cross-cutting cleavages will have to be created – and that requires understanding just how these people understand their own identity, their needs, their wants, and their desires – and for the “old faces” named above, any attempt to do that now will very likely to be far too little,  and certainly far too late.


Ukrainian TANAP pipeline support

June 12, 2018

Every so often, and fairly frequently of late, the subject of Nord Stream II, (NSII, NS2, – however a reader may label it) and the Ukrainian GTS appears here.

The blog has long held the position that it is perhaps in the Ukrainian economic and national security interest to seek to swiftly and thoroughly integrate into the European gas network in order to be able to import as much EU gas market supply as possible – and after fulfilling the Stockholm Arbitration Court judgement returning to a policy position of not buying Russian gas (directly), while politically accepting that any Russian transit fees across its territory are transactional incomes around which no national budget nor oligarchical interests can continue to be built (as historically was once the case).

Bi-directional pipelines and interconnectors with the EU would seem the prudent path for the future, and is perhaps where transit fees revenues should be targeted to finance that goal.

After all, the EU gas marketplace is not simply the resale of Russian gas.  There are numerous other importing and domestic EU market participants whose pricing Gazprom is compelled to take into account.  If it proves cheaper to buy imported gas from those other than Gazprom, the nature of the EU market is to buy there first, and as such Gazprom will be concerned about market share (and by extension for The Kremlin regarding associated political leverage).  Price approximation therefore follows, because regardless of how many pipelines that may be built, demand has to be at one end of the tube, regardless of the supply at the other end.  Ergo, “take or pay” contracts or not, a wary Gazprom eye upon the EU gas spot market there must therefore be.

However this entry relates to a new gas pipeline that circumvents Ukraine and will supply Turkey and Europe.

It is a pipeline that Ukraine supports.

The pipeline in question is the TANAP pipeline.  The 1,850 km long TANAP gas pipeline is designed to transport Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz field to the western borders of Turkey.

The initial capacity will be at least 16 billion cubic meters, of which 10 billion will be sent to Europe, and 6 billion cubic meters will go to the western regions of Turkey.  The future capacity of the pipeline will be brought to 24 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and ultimately to 31 billion cubic meters.

That gas to enter Europe via Bulgaria and Romania.

Clearly there are good reasons for Ukraine to support this pipeline – which is why it does.

Firstly it is not Russian gas that it transports to Europe, therefore further diversifying and diluting supply to Europe.  Good for European market drivers and good for a Ukraine that will buy its gas from Europe.

Secondly, while the opening ceremony of TANAP took place in the Turkish city of Eskisehir with the participation of the Presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan very recently, the pipelines to and through Romania and Bulgaria are not completed.  Project “upstreaming” can possibly still take into account any spurs into Ukraine.   If Ukraine has the sense to swiftly and deeply integrate into the European gas infrastructure, TANAP is another energy source devoid of anything directly Russian.

So it is perhaps not surprisingly that (apparently) also present at the opening ceremony was President Poroshenko, who had a few words to say “Ukraine fully supports this project.  Today we agreed that we will be more than happy to diversify our energy sources and get gas supplies from TANAP through Bulgaria and Romania.”

Clearly it is also beneficial for Ukraine to keep good relations with Turkey, Romania an Bulgaria.  These are important immediate neighbours.  There will always be issues of disagreement, or irksome issues, but generally they can or are compartmentalised so that broader good relations remain fairly robust.  Supporting this project adds to regional “goodwill”.

Quite who and how (new or even overhauled) gas transport infrastructure will be financed if Ukraine intends (as it should) to create a spur into Ukraine remains to be seen.  Nevertheless, there is always money to be found for sensible projects, and the deepening and further integration of Ukraine into the European gas infrastructure is most certainly a sensible idea.


A view to a kill – Chernomorsk

June 10, 2018

Well, OK, this is not exactly a view to a kill, but certainly a view to something rather odd involving firearms and some odd behaviour from almost everybody featured in the “attempted kill”?

This rather modest little home and the two rather average modes of transport belong to Chernomorsk City Council, People’s Deputy Sergei Chervachev.

Obviously business (the Bastion Group of companies) and politics (if they are indeed separable) for Mr Chervachev would appear to have been most rewarding.

However, as is always the case when business and politics meet, enemies will be made and the some of the electorate irked.  It would appear, or a reader is meant to believe, that Mr Chervachev has accomplished that feat – as this CCTV footage from his security system mounted upon his modest little home from the night of 4th/5th June 2018 portrays.

A reader, having watched it, may ponder upon the events however.

A few questions may be raised over why, having driven into his modest little home, the electric automatic gates were not closed once he had driven in.

They were left open for quite some time (approximately 30 seconds) before the “would-be assassin” walked into the courtyard.  Further Mr Chervachev appears to remain sat in his car for quite some time too – for no apparent reason.

How very fortunate for the “assassin” that the automatic gate was left open and that Mr Chervachev remained sat in his vehicle long enough for the commissioning of the crime, rather than close the gate and go indoors as most people tend to do without dawdling.

Fortune however seems to go both ways.

Instead of walking in and shooting Mr Chervachev in the head, or at the torso, the “assassin” shot Mr Chervachev in the leg – despite he being sat in the car and at the mercy of any aimed shots from an “assassin”.

That the “assassin” also used a traumatic firearm to shoot at Mr Chervachev several (five) times through his open car window would suggest that the “assassin” would have to be in rather optimistic mood that death or serious injury would be the outcome from rubber bullets.

A reader may also wonder at the shutting of the stable door after the horse had bolted, or rather closing the automatic gates after the “assassin” had departed.

This followed by the immediate arrival of two (presumably family members) fully dressed at the time of night, (near midnight on 4th/5th June).  Perhaps with CCTV and automatic electric gates, unlike almost every Ukrainian known to this blog (literally thousands) the Chervachev family are the exception who do not lock their front door even when home.  Clearly there was no time for searching for keys or to put clothes on when they appear immediately after the shooting.

It all looks rather odd – even if the incident proves to be entirely genuine, and not staged (for whatever reason), as some readers may conclude.

Either way, the usual question is to be asked and answered.  Was this a result of political or business activity (if they can be definitively separated)?


Avakov speaks Balkanese in a Donbas reintegration plan

June 7, 2018

Despite an interesting day at the Verhovna Rada, what catches the eye of the blog is the public statement of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov relating to the (eventual) reintegration of the temporarily occupied Donbas.

After dismissing the “Minsk Agreements” as long since dead, Mr Avakov stated“Obviously, it’s time to develop a new, more effective strategy for resolving armed conflict and a detailed plan for the gradual restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We propose a strategy for the de-occupation and reintegration of the occupied territories of the Donbas on the basis of the “MECHANISM OF SMALL STEPS”.

It is necessary to define a new format that will be legitimate in terms of international law.


Formation of a legal framework for conflict resolution

Adoption of a package of legislative acts that will contribute to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Among them – two most important laws:

  • Adoption of the Amnesty Act , which affects most of the people living in the occupied territory and involved in the conflict. Amnesty will not affect those who have committed serious criminal or war crimes. Amnesty does not affect those who “have blood on their hands.” In relation to them, criminal proceedings must be commenced, and the guilty party is determined by the Ukrainian Law.
  • Adoption of the Law on Collaborators . It should be officially stated that, legally, every citizen of Ukraine is endowed with all civil rights in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine. And then, using the mechanism provided by the law, it will be necessary to determine the status of this citizen: whether he is a victim of an occupation regime (such is the majority); or a participant who, in the circumstances, cooperated with the occupation regime; or a criminal who killed our soldiers and participated in repressions against the civilian population. Accordingly, the law should determine the degree of public response to the corresponding status of each person.

This is a very difficult question regarding the level of readiness of society for a compromise, but it must be resolved. Thus, a foundation will be created, based on which the overwhelming majority of the population of the temporarily occupied territories will legitimately return to the legal field of Ukraine, receive civil rights and access to public services. Only then will it be possible to hold elections in these territories.

Communication strategy

The communication strategy within Ukraine, which explains to people the plans for our actions, is extremely important! It is absolutely necessary to achieve the understanding of the people and to support the civil society of Ukraine, since only the consolidation of the entire Ukrainian people and the transparency of processes will allow the program to be fully implemented, including unpopular but extremely necessary measures.

International Peacekeeping Mission

The introduction of an international peacekeeping mission . Determination of the status and order of attraction of international regulatory forces , international monitoring program, advisory and resource assistance.



A separate area of the occupied territories of the Donbas is selected and agreed upon, against which the opposing military formations are diverted beyond the boundary line – a demilitarized security zone is created.

Since it is impossible to find and have enter into Ukraine 20 to 40 thousand peacekeepers, which are necessary for the immediate de-occupation and reintegration of the entire temporarily occupied territory of the Donbas, it is proposed to start from a separate city or district (for example, Gorlovka and/or Novoazovsk district).

The Special International Peacekeeping Mission and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine take control of the said plot of territory and its boundaries.

  • they enter the territory of a certain city or area;
  • Ukrainian border guards and peacekeepers jointly take control of the border;
  • the rest of the rule of law and the legitimacy provided by the National Police of Ukraine, the National Guard of Ukraine, together with the “blue helmets”. Initially, perhaps with the assistance of volunteer combatants from among the local population, representing local and village councils.  
  • Within the territory liberated by Justice of Ukraine is preparing the electoral process and subsequent local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.

No matter who wins these elections, it is crucial that the process is conducted in accordance with the current legislation of Ukraine and the provision of free expression of will. Even if they choose a candidate with frankly pro-Russian views, in the strategic perspective, upon completion of the conflict resolution processes, this issue will be balanced in the coming years.

The work of all state institutes and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine is restored on the territory of the reintegrated area.

The main thing is to form a transitional administration, which will start work, based on Ukrainian legislation, with the central authorities on the procedures for reintegration and restoration.

The process of reintegration begins.

First of all – improving the quality of life of citizens in the de-occupied territory (health care, education, pensions and other types of social and household services, financial and banking, job creation, employment of the population).

The humanitarian de-mining process of the previously occupied territory is under way.

The area of ​​hostilities in the Donbas and its adjoining territory is one of the most polluted mines and explosive objects of regions in the world. According to the UN, the area of ​​mined areas in Ukraine is about 700 thousand hectares.

Immediate work is carried out to eliminate man-made and environmental risks

The area of ​​combat operations is always a zone of environmental disaster due to damage to soils, local flora and fauna, pollution of the territory. When it comes to Donbas, it is necessary to further take into account the specifics of the region in which there are numerous mines, enterprises (including chemical ones), and 1,200 sources of ionizing radiation. All of them bear the risk of contamination of sources of potable water, epidemics, emissions and explosions of methane and other harmful substances. Ukraine’s environmental catastrophe will become an ecological catastrophe for the whole of Europe! (Appendix 1)

The urgent program of checking and restoring Ukrainian documents for all people who lived in those years in the occupied territory is launched.

The degree of checking these people should be the highest, according to a special mechanism, so that Ukrainian passports were issued exclusively to Ukrainian citizens.

The process of restoration of socio-economic infrastructure begins: roads, bridges, establishments, enterprises .

According to various estimates, the recovery of socio-economic stability of the region will require at least 10 years and from 20 to 30 billion US dollars.

As in the near future, Ukraine is not able to compensate for losses from military aggression independently, special measures of economic support are needed:

– Legislative consolidation of the mechanism for attracting donors and investors and providing control over the spending of funds (Board for the distribution of funds);

– Creation of a Donbas rehabilitation agency (fund) with the participation of authoritative international organizations, for example, based on the Institute of Peace (Executive Vice President – William Taylor, Former US Ambassador to Ukraine in 2006-2009)

         AIM Strategic Goals:

  • to help prevent, manage and resolve ferocious conflicts both within and among countries;
  • to provide post-conflict stability and development;
  • to increase the potential of peacebuilding, tools and intellectual capital all over the world;
  • train, train, provide information to policy makers and those who implement it on the ground; students and the public.

 – tax and other preferences for investors;

– possible creation of free economic zones for the recovery of the Donbas economy.

– creation of a special reserve fund with the participation of international organizations.

Work is under way to return the displaced persons – the internal migration of the population to areas abandoned through war zones.

It should be noted that the return to the Donbass of people who have lived for several years outside Russian toxic propaganda will help restore the local population’s trust in the Ukrainian authorities and, to some extent, facilitate reintegration.

The participation of citizens residing in the formerly occupied territories in elections to the central authorities of Ukraine, but not earlier than in 3-5 years, is restored .

Elections may be held exclusively on demilitarized territory. They can not occur in the absence of the necessary safe environment and capable institutions.

Hasty elections can help to strengthen and restore conflict with the new force.

Angola, 1992 – the victory of one side in the elections with a margin of 1-2% provoked a new conflict and led to a new civil war . The war ended only in the early 2000s.

Elections may be held when the borders of the state are under its full control or control by international observers, otherwise there are no security guarantees on the day of voting.

In Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Liberia, elections took place after establishing effective border control (2-5 years).

In the case of Bosnia, the OSCE, under the pressure of Western governments, sanctioned the holding of elections, ignoring the lack of conditions for democratic voting. As a result, after the national elections in the leading positions there were individuals who were little interested in the full realization of the peace agreement.

The most adequate time span between the ceasefire and the election is 3 years after the cease-fire. If elections are held earlier than 2 years after the ceasefire in the case of young democracies, and less than in one year – in the case of developed democracies, this leads to the restoration of armed confrontation.

This time is necessary to ensure the condition for the honest and free expression of will and the formation of a moderate local force capable of counterbalancing the radicals.

In addition, this time is needed to return to the formerly occupied territories of refugees and internally displaced persons. You can not deny the right to participate in elections for refugees and temporarily displaced persons! It is necessary to give them the opportunity to return and learn in the places where they used to live permanently!

Changing electoral legislation requires the provision of at least 1 year to all participants in the election process (commissions, parties, voters, etc.) for familiarization with the new rules and the establishment of work.

Conducting national elections to the Verkhovna Rada in the formerly occupied territories to disarmament, demilitarization, restoration of control over the border, proper legislative and institutional provision of elections will not solve the conflict. The results of such elections will not be recognized by the majority of the parties to the conflict and, consequently, the whole process will be doomed to failure.



As a result of the implementation of the Plan on the liberated territory, the systematic work of the authorities is restored, the quality of life of people is improved, the security and law-enforcement are ensured, all processes of life are normalized. The cities and villages that have been depleted by war come to a normal peaceful life.

Then the project scales to neighboring areas. At the same time, each subsequent stage of de-occupation and reintegration will be easier, as local residents of liberated cities and villages will become “agents of influence,” an example and a model for neighbors.

Thus, it can be expected that the process of de-occupation and reintegration will go with increasing intensity and will be more efficient and less resource-consuming than an instant operation in the entire temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.



  • restoration of territorial integrity and peace in the eastern regions of Ukraine;
  • termination of further bloodshed and periodic escalation of armed “conflict-rippling”;
  • de-occupation, reintegration of occupied territories and post-conflict construction;
  •  stimulating the socio-economic development of territorial communities in previously occupied territories (improving the quality of life of the population through strengthening their capacity and social endurance, stimulating economic activity);
  • minimizing environmental risks and preventing man-made disasters.

Temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Lugansk regions:

  • improving the quality of life to the all-Ukrainian standard of social security, protection and security, as well as access to all public services;
  • peace and real, and not situational and temporary cessation of hostilities, with corresponding positive consequences;
  • the phased and non-conflictual nature of the reintegration process will contribute to the gradual reestablishment of mutual trust;
  • the inhabitants of the temporarily occupied territories, by means of democratic, fair and open elections, will independently choose the legal authorities in their regions. And then – they will be able to delegate their representatives to parliament and to take part in the presidential elections;
  • lawfully elected representatives of the temporarily occupied territories will have the right to participate in solving Donbass problems initially at the local, and then at the state level;
  • guaranteed infrastructure and economy restoration.


  • the parties to the peace process on the part of the EU (Germany, France, etc.) and the United States will be able to become real peacekeepers who have actively contributed to the peaceful settlement of armed conflict; This will prove the effectiveness of the institutional mechanisms of Euro-Atlantic cooperation;
  • The EU is protecting itself from the flow of refugees (including criminal elements), uncontrolled drug trafficking, and the illegal circulation of weapons from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. As a result, reducing the potential threat of crime and terrorist threats.


  • the opportunity to get out of a bad situation, “having saved the face”;
  • may receive additional arguments for relaxing sanctions;
  • the possibility of not fulfilling the financial obligation for expenditures in support of the socio-economic infrastructure of the temporarily occupied territories;
  • to lose the need to support another enclave of separatism, which over the population surpasses Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia together.

Appendix 1

Estimation of man-caused and ecological risks in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts

– There are over 1,200 sources of ionizing radiation located on 65 objects in the Donbass. According to experts, due to military actions, the uncontrollability of the operation and maintenance of sources of ionizing radiation, there is a real radiation threat. The hostilities damaged the integrity of the radioactive waste storage facilities at the Donetsk Chemical Plant and the Donetsk Specialized Combine.

– The concern “Stirol” belongs to potentially dangerous manufactures. In May 2014, it announced the cessation of the release of ammonia, its derivatives and other products at the plant due to the tense situation in the region and the desire of the company to “exclude all risks for employees and residents of the region.” However, underground storage tanks for the storage of chemical wastes (and not only ammonia) remained. It’s about huge companies in the area that are on the line of delimitation. In the case of ammonia entering the pipeline, the entry of foreign objects (fragments) or damage to them, pollution, soil, groundwater, atmosphere (due to evaporation), etc., that can harm the ecology of not only neighboring territories, but also of all Ukraine, as well as states bordering Ukraine.

– The threat of flooding of mines. As a result of stopping the pumps and falling into the mine of groundwater, some of them were flooded. According to experts, if water reaches the surface, the radiation level will exceed the permissible limits by a thousand times.

In addition, mine water is heavily mineralized and contaminated with harmful substances. If you do not start to pump out toxic poisonous water immediately, it can be mixed with ground fresh water, get into the rivers.

Another danger is the mine water pushing out methane, which accumulates in the basements and on the first floors of houses. There is enough one spark to make a powerful blast.

There are not many cases where the whole buildings collapse into the voids created by the mines. It is possible that the critical infrastructure can also fail.

There is information that militants arranged mass graves in abandoned mines. As a result, with the melting of snow or the release of groundwater, epidemics of hepatitis and other infections are possible.

– In the vicinity of the village of Novgorod there is a chemical waste storage facility of the phenol plant. It is located between the positions of the Ukrainian army and militants, which are at a distance of 400 meters from each other. A. Hug, deputy chairman of the OSCE special monitoring mission in Ukraine, said that in this region it is necessary to establish a cease-fire regime and divest the parties to the conflict.

– In the area between Avdeyivka and Yasinuvat there is a Donetsk filtering station (DFS), which provides water supply to settlements located on both sides of the collision line. During the armed conflict, the DFS repeatedly found itself on the line of fire, which caused its work to stop, the flow of water to cities and villages was violated. According to experts, the continuation of hostilities near the DPS can provoke an ecological catastrophe.”

All very sensible – and to be fair, current legislation and presidential decree demands among others, the Interior Minister to submit plans for the reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories.  The Interior Minister then, is fulfilling his obligations by submitting this plan.  Others too are obliged to submit plans for consideration.  For those that read old books and enjoy relevant quotes, “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”. (Sun Tzu).  It remains to be seen whether Minister Avakov’s plan would manage such a difficult feat.

Certainly readers of a certain age, or of particular interest in matters Balkan, may recall the 1990s and will see many familiar steps and parallels within Minister Avakov’s prose.  In particular a reader may ponder the 15th January 1998 peaceful reintegration of the Podunavlje region and its return into the constitutional and legal system of the Republic of Croatia.

Naturally no two sets of circumstances are ever exactly the same.  Only a fool would believe it ever to be thus.  There are always differences, nuance, and a requirement to recognise those.  Despite similarities therefore, there will undoubtedly be peculiarities that require the “tweaking” of plans that have gone before.  A matter made exceptionally problematic by a belligerent Kremlin.

As yet with regard to Ukraine, there is no Security Council Resolution 1037 (1996), creating anything approaching the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES).  Neither is there an agreement that comes close to the 12th November 1995 Erdut Agreement.  Indeed The Kremlin is showing little interest in stopping its war of exhaustion (this is not a war of attrition) upon both Ukraine and its supporters.  Thus Minister Avakov’s plan may well gather dust on a shelf in the Interior Ministry for many, many years to come.  Nevertheless the Rule of P applies – Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance – it is simply necessary to reevaluate the plan periodically and blow the dust off it.

The key parts of the Croatian reintegration plan, aside from avoiding claims of ethnic cleansing, were the demilitarisation, disarmament and demobilisation of military and paramilitary forces, plus a vigorous weapons buy-back programme (as advocated by this blog for at least 3 years).  A return of those who wished to return to their homes was completed (with the return process accelerated after the completion of the mission).  The law on “Co-validation” adopted in 1997 confirmed certain legal affairs and acts of the so-called Republic of Krajina which were not deemed legal before.  An agreement on the “Normalization of Relations between Croatia and Yugoslavia” was signed on 23 August 1996 (two years prior to the Kosovo war).  Local elections were held on 13th/14th April 1997, simultaneously with elections throughout Croatia and from that day onward the Podunavlje region was fully integrated in the Croatian legal system.  Thus, in line with the Croatian Constitution representatives of Serb minority were elected in local, regional and national government bodies.

Naturally, perhaps the most controversial legislation was the adoption of an “Amnesty Law”.  In fact two were adopted (in 1992 and 1996).  This amnesty was granted to all those who committed criminal acts in connection with armed conflict, except for war crimes. Undoubtedly there will have been a notable number of (potential) criminals from that region who escaped rightful criminal prosecution.

There is no way that those with an inbuilt moral code of “fair play” would find amnesties easy to swallow – whether it be amnesties for acts in war, criminal amnesties or tax amnesties.  Indeed throughout the 2000’s and onward, “amnesties” have become less popular by way of solutions.  It is an idea that is no longer as freely floated around the UN as it once was – and perhaps rightly so.

There are of course other considerations relating to Minister Avakov’s statement aside from his obligations under the “reintegration” legislation and presidential decrees requiring plans to be submitted.  Mr Avakov (not for the first time) thoroughly dismisses the “Minsk Agreement”, which everybody and his dog claimed was still-born before the ink had dried.  Nevertheless, whatever President Poroshenko may think privately, he is not in a position to say so publicly.  Is Minister Avakov speaking for President Poroshenko?  It seems rather unlikely that the President would employ an Interior Minister with who he has a very cool relationship to present his position through this particular veil.

It is not necessarily Minister Avakov electioneering either, or attempting to distance himself from President Poroshenko.  Their differences are a matter of public knowledge.  More to the point however, few, if anybody would expect any (significant, or even minimal) progress before either presidential or Verkhovna Rada elections of 2019.  Why would the Kremlin give up such a lever of influence before or during election campaigns in Ukraine?  Thus nobody will expect this plan to be implemented before 2020 (or more likely much later).

This statement, and this plan, may therefore be (more or less) simply a matter of the Interior Minister complying with his “reintegration” obligations, whilst seemingly borrowing heavily from a Croatian playbook that will need some tweaking.


Goodbye to Finance Minister Danilyuk?

June 6, 2018

The writing appears to be well and truly engraved upon the wall for Finance Minister Alexandr Danilyuk.  He is not going to resign, but it seems highly likely he is going to be forced out – immediately.

Mr Danilyuk is to some degree the author of his own demise.  He lost the confidence of Prime Minister Groisman who had otherwise stood robustly behind him despite on-going schemes and scams to remove him, when perhaps foolishly Mr Danilyuk took the unusual step of writing directly to the G7 leaders expressing concerns about certain pressures and directions of somewhat questionable wisdom within the Ukrainian leadership.

Whether or not Mr Danilyuk wrote these letters out of frustration, or out of anger (when his attempt to get Yana Bugrimova appointed his deputy with a portfolio over customs policy was rebuffed by PM Groisman) is somewhat beside the point.  There would be few Prime Ministers that would suffer such an act by a fellow Cabinet Minister without consequence.  Mr Danilyuk had numerous channels through which to communicate any concerns he may have had.  There are no G7 ambassadors who would refuse his presence, and he in turn would not refuse a visit from any of the G7 ambassadors in Ukraine – nor their Political or Economic Attachés either.

There were many channels through which to communicate that would be far more deniable/opaque/private than the direct and public route he chose – which was guaranteed to bring with it problems.

Assuredly, having lost the confidence of the Prime Minister, those that have been maneuvering for his remove for several years will insure that the relevant Verkhovna Rada Committee will support his removal, and undoubtedly there will be sufficient Verkhovna Rada votes to sack him now they have been gifted the chance.  A reader will perhaps rightly ponder that his unpopularity within the political ranks is somewhat due to him doing something right to the angst of (and perhaps detriment of) some within the political class (albeit Mr Danilyuk is far from perfect) within which he toils.

Whatever the outcome relating to Mr Danilyuk’s fate (and it looks particularly grim), naturally his removal is not necessarily the going to be to the detriment of Ukraine in the long term.  Politicians come and politicians go, and rarely are they missed (unlike Statesmen – of which Ukraine has precisely none).

It will however have some effects.

In the likelihood of his removal from office following a (almost certain) Verkhovna Rada vote to dismiss him, there will be a requirement to replace him.  Any new Finance Minister is likely to want to change some (or all) of the Finance Ministry team.  This will take time, may succumb to vested interests,  and may very well further delay unresolved matters with the IMF (and other State/institutional lenders), even if the anti-corruption court legislation passes its second Verkhovna Rada reading in the immediate future.

To be entirely blunt, sticking with the IMF agreement is not simply about getting further IMF loan tranches – albeit they are of course included when creating the national budget and their loss would be undeniably felt.

There is also a matter of trust for other lenders when it comes to Ukraine meeting its negotiated obligations with the IMF.  Medium and long term bonds are likely to demand a higher return if IMF lending stops due to negating negotiated obligations.  In short, a lender will look to contractual/agreement adherence and pile on percentage points (or lower them) dependent upon Ukraine meeting loan conditions, or not.

Business is business.  Higher risk requires higher returns.  Lower risk equates to lower returns.  Especially poignant when Ukraine anticipates reentering the commercial debt market place before the year end.

There are after all a lot of sovereign debts to repay in 2019/2020 due to the urgently renegotiated cans kicked into the grass back in 2014/15.

The UAH exchange rate is unlikely to be significantly effected by the removal of Mr Danilyuk directly however – for it was wisely subjected to market forces some years ago under the watchful eye of the National Bank of Ukraine (not the Finance Ministry).

What will matter is that fiscal policy remains predictable and consistent, rather than who heads the Ministry of Finance.

However, what will screw the UAH exchange rate as a result of this removal will perhaps be a somewhat negative market view if it interprets Mr Danilyuk’s dismissal as somehow connected to the presidential elections, rather than a confidence issue following a perhaps somewhat rash decision to write directly to the G7.

After all Mr Danilyuk’s letter to the G7, and no doubt in numerous private conversations both prior and since, complained of Bankova, Cabinet and oligarchy interference in the staffing of his ministry, together with an allegation of dubious resource allocation to various regions to “buy off/bribe” voters prior to elections.  (An indirect allegation of misuse of administrative resources to tilt the electoral playing field.)

Mr Danilyuk has been something of a consistent and fairly reliable negotiator/point man/”go to” for the international players, and the importance of trust within these personal relationships is not without weight.  A “dim view” (should one be taken) of his removal may have an effect.

So, a big day in the Verkhovna Rada on 7th June – perhaps the likely end to Mr Danilyuk as Finance Minister, and also (perhaps/probably/maybe) the second vote on the anti-corruption court legislation (and it remains to be seen if it has been improved of suffered greatly due to thousands of submitted amendments).

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