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A Bulgar uprising? – Odessa

April 19, 2017

It has been several years since the blog noted the rise and subsequent failure of the Kremlin backed “People’s Council of Bessarabia” in the southwest of Odessa Oblast.

That several leaders were jailed on separatism charges and subsequently exchanged in prisoner swaps (to then head over the border of Ukraine’s large aggressive eastern neighbour), notwithstanding the failure to get MP Anton Kisse “on side”, who as unofficial Tsar of the region would have to give his support to any such entity for it to succeed, the idea to create separatist enclave in the southwest of Odessa died a strategic death.

That is not to say Mr Kisse is necessarily ideologically against a “Bessarabia” per se, only that he is quite aware of the negative economic outcomes upon his personal interests in creating one.  Nevertheless he is known to provoke the Bulgars, Gagauzes and Albanians in Bolgrad specifically, to call for independent territorial administrations.

As leader of the ethnic Bulgar community (the first leader, Theodore Karazhekov, disappearing never to be seen or heard of again when Mr Kisse decided he wanted to head the organisation) Anton Kisse nevertheless has clear empathy with the sensitivities of the Bulgar community.

Two years on from the failure of the “People’s Council of Bessarabia” and a return to clam within that region of Odessa, the rapidly approaching anniversaries of the 2nd May tragedy and 9th May Victory Day, appears to witness the ethnic Bulgars once again being subjected to Kremlin intrigues.

It has to be noted that from mid-April social media in Odessa has witnessed advertisements/recruiting for “professional Russians” to engage in anti-social and violent acts – the offered pay UAH 1000.  By “professional Russians” a reader should understand that these are people who only turn out to protest, whatever the cause (be it pro-Kremlin, tree hugging, or whatever) for money.  No money = no protester.

The offered UAH 1000 is sure to draw some in, for it is far more than most paid protests pay for turning out for their cause.

Ergo, the question is how big is the budget to sponsor trouble on 2nd and 9th May in Odessa?  For that will dictate the maximum number of paid protesters – less the expenses of busing in numbers if the locals aren’t sufficiently interested, plus placards, assorted smoke and gas grenades and perhaps a firearm or two in order to provide the necessary media spectacle.

Some figures being banded about seem ludicrously high even when paying a sizable mob for 2 days of protest, agitation, and perhaps riot.   MP Vadim Rabinovych, who may be entertaining but who is also often a stranger to the truth (perhaps unsurprisingly for a man jailed twice in his life for criminality) has stated up to a staggering UAH 27 million is available to destabilise Odessa between now and the 2nd and 9th May dates.

What has this to do with the ethnic Bulgar community?

With regard to the UAH 1000 “professional Russian” recruiting probably very little – if anything.

However it appears the ethnic Bulgars are to be used yet again in Kremlin shenanigans in Odessa – whether ethnic Bulgars are actually involved or not.

It has become known that the Russian secret services sent a man via Kharkiv to Odessa to meet with a known Kremlin agent provocateur called Nikolai Dulsky who heads the NGO Наждак (Najdak which means Emery (as in Emery cloth), or abrasive).  The NGO indeed lives up to its name.

The plan was to have the Bulgars appear before the Bulgarian Consulate in Odessa at the monument to the poet Hristo Botev and produce placards and flags chanting for the equal rights for an oppressed Bulgarian community – or perhaps more accurately to have people appear to be ethnic Bulgars from Odessa carrying out such acts as it is entirely unclear whether any Bulgars were involved.

Indeed the SBU has detained Mr Dulsky and seized placards, cash and weapons – the standard preparatory fare – as well as flags of both Bulgaria and Ukrainian nationalists.

The intention it would seem, to create two sides, ethnic Bulgars and Ukrainian nationalists, brawling outside the Bulgarian Consulate over “ethnic issues”.  Mr Dulsky’s fee to The Kremlin for creating this theatre was UAH 80,000 – which was to include the payment of those purporting to be ethnic Bulgars, and perhaps Ukrainian nationalists had Ukrainian nationalists failed to show up.  (One of the things those with extreme views can be relied upon for, is to react to carefully constructed reflexive control operations – not withstanding the ease at which agent provocateurs can work within such organisations.)

The Consulate of the Russian Federation in Odessa is located about 500 meters from the Bulgarian Consulate thus guaranteeing that had the plan come to fruition, lots of unsightly video and photographic propaganda would ensue both within Ukraine and of course Bulgaria.  That such active measures involving the ethnic Bulgars (or those pretending to be such) have (thus far) has been thwarted will probably garner no traction within the Bulgarian media.

Thus the prelude to what seems very likely to see Kremlin attempts to provoke discord in Odessa are once again are under way.  No doubt the first 2 weeks of May in Odessa will be filled with intrigue, active measures and reflexive control operations.  A reader might suspect the same in Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Kherson too – but perhaps a watchful eye should once again also be cast upon “Bessarabia” if yet further attempts at manipulating (even if only in name) the ethnic Bulgars are once again on the Kremlin agenda.

In failing fast and in failing cheap, a foiled operation that cost UAH 80,000 hardly makes a dent in the extraordinary (and frankly highly questionable) UAH 27 million Vadim Rabinovych claims is available to destabilise Odessa over the coming weeks.

It remains to be seen how Odessa will police these coming weeks.

Thus far it has not requested external assistance during 2 – 9 May as it has in previous years.  The police are also trying to recruit a further 400 officers which indicates that perhaps the thin blue line is actually particularly thin already – without what will be significant public safety operations.  The SBU will no doubt be working flat out too.

An interesting few weeks ahead perhaps.

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Back to NABU Auditor candidates

April 18, 2017

During February and March entries appeared about the intrigues, procedural violations and parliamentary vote hijacking surrounding the nomination of the external auditor of NABU.

It is a position that carries some clout – for the outcome can be used per Ukrainian legislation to oust the head of NABU if the audit is deemed to provide a report below expectations.

Needless to say the shenanigans and intrigues outlined in the above entries caused more than a collective “tutting” among the external supporters of Ukraine and undoubtedly Artem Sytnyk the NABU Chief will have been feeling the heat (and anticipating a “stitch up” to remove him).  Undoubtedly barbed diplomacy took place behind closed doors.

So where are we now?

Despite the nonsense surrounding Mr Brown and his unexpected candidacy to run against former Deputy Inspector General of the US Department of Justic Robert Storch, he is seemingly no longer in the running after failing to have been forced over the finish line.

The relevant Verkhovna Rada committee gleefully opened another unsullied competition which closes on 3rd May, thus seeking to begin a new process after the parliamentary games that stomped all over the initial efforts of the committee.

There are to be at least another two candidates placed before the Verkhovna Rada.  Spanish Prosecutor Carlos Castresana and US Attorney Martha Boersch will participate.

Time will tell whether more quality candidates come forward and successfully get through the Verkhovna Rada Committee’s due diligence/vetting before 3rd May, yet regardless it seems unlikely that there will be another attempted hijacking of the process and parliamentary vote by elements within the (slim) majority coalition.

This time around it seems to be rather more encouraging as far as following process is concerned.

Whether the Verkhovna Rada can generate 226 votes (or more) for any candidate may be a different matter entirely.

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Savchenko prepares her political (re)launch

April 16, 2017

Nadya Savchenko appears to be close to completing the formalities surrounding her own political project – and why not, for nobody expected her to remain within the Batkivshchyna Party when her personality would so clearly clash with that of Yulia Tymoshenko.

That being so questions of finance, promotion and all those other requirements of a political party will have to be properly addressed if political oblivion is to be avoided at the next elections – whenever that may prove to be.

Presumably therefore, odious oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk will be spending some money very soon, together with supplying those skilled in PR and spin that have historically worked with his toxic NGO Ukrainian Choice (now renamed Ukrainian Choice – The Right People)  to support the Savchenko party (and Medvedchuk project).

How much Mr Medvedchuk will spend, and how much expertise he will provide, perhaps depends upon his other political options behind the curtain.

Currently those options would appear to be limited to whatever the equally odious Nestor Shufrich decides to do (stay within the Oppo Block or go it alone) and what, if any offered involvement the Rabinovych-Muraev tandem will agree to within their fairly recently rebranded Zhyttia Party.

All else would appear to be otherwise limited to local politics rather than the national stage.

Ergo  Nadya Savchenko is therefore perhaps the best of the Medvedchuk options despite her rapid and continuing fall from political grace.

Clearly having little option other than the continued backing Nadya Savchenko will not be perceived by many as backing a winner – but with so few options perhaps Mr Medvedchuk’s definition of “winner” have been radically redefined in recent years.

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House of Free Russia – Kyiv

April 15, 2017

No this entry has nothing to do with the John Le Carre novel or the 1990 film The Russia House.

In Kyiv the not for profit organisation House of Free Russia has officially opened its doors – which currently is about all there is, doors, and some sparse furnishing.  No computers, no library and security comprising of little more an alarm system to protect the empty square meters of office space.

Nevertheless, perhaps from such acorns do mighty oaks grow – time will tell as it always does.

(Disclaimer:  Of the current supervisory board (or Public Council as the management has labeled itself) this blog is familiar with two members.  From decades past in Moscow, Evgeniy Kiselev, and a more recent acquaintance of but a few years, Vladislav Davidzon.)

The NFP is funded by the European Endowment for Democracy, Nemtov’s Foundation for Freedom, the collective efforts of the Russian diaspora, primarily in the US –  and a perhaps deliberate and nefarious rumour relating to some Mikhail Khodorkovsky input that is denied by the organisation.

The House of Free Russia is positioning itself thus “an alternative Embassy of Russian civil society in Ukraine.  It is an open platform for dialogue and research on contemporary Russia and its impact on the international community, on Russian-Ukrainian relations, the conflict in the Donbas and the annexation of the Crimea.  This is a safe space for immigrants and refugees from Russia to Ukraine, the Russian diaspora assembly point in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the transponder of the free world values in Russia.

In short it aims to be “Russian Dissident Central” in Kyiv.

Naturally the opening of such an initiative is unlikely to receive the warmest of welcomes in some Ukrainian nationalist quarters.  Others will see this organisation headquartering in Kyiv as a trolling of The Kremlin.  Yet others will see it as a worthwhile exercise with some potential to achieve what its own stated aims.   Some will see it as an exercise in futility.

Whatever the case the organisation has gone through all required legal hoops in Ukraine, and no doubt some SBU scrutiny, prior to opening its doors.

It goes without saying that both Ukrainian and Russian spooks will have some interest in the comings and goings, and what goes on henceforth – and in attempting to become “Russian Dissident Central”, it will not only be the Ukrainian and Russian spooks that will take such an interest.

It also has to be said that not all Russian dissidents in Ukraine will be particularly supportive.

For the most prominent there is the question of competing prestige (to a lesser extent funding) and “face time”/column inches when it comes to being a representative for Russian dissidents.  There are clear schisms and an obvious clashing egos within the broad church of Russian dissidents in Ukraine (not unlike the opposition to the current regime within Russia itself).

For lesser mortals, the refugees, emigres and dissidents, there are not only the issues of a platform from which to employ their right to free speech and assembly, but there are also practical issues that Ukraine is perhaps more willing to solve for those of a high profile.  Issues of documentation and bureaucracy – in short legally being in Ukraine (and issues not to dissimilar to those that many Ukrainian IDPs  have yet to overcome).

By way of example, a young Russian currently residing in Kyiv (known to the blog) who for years has been a vocal and literary critic of the current Kremlin regime has seen his passport expire some time ago.  Naturally attending the Russian Embassy in Kyiv to get a new one is not the most endearing of prospects.  He cannot leave Ukraine to get a new Russian passport elsewhere as the passport has long since expired.  He cannot apply for temporary residence in Ukraine using an expired Russian passport, and any and all supporting identity documents are in Russia even if there were a way to circumvent that issue.

Further, international obligations and domestic legislation provide for the return of Russians to Russia that are wanted and/or that have overstayed.  International institutions do not overtly officially recognise that Russian justice can often be anything but.  Thus there is no international trend when it comes to non-refoulment with regard to the return of Russians to Russia (and its judicial system).  Each case is dealt with on its merits, and rightly so, despite any reservations held about Russian justice.

(To recognise Russia as a legal system whereby very often the (politically) guilty are identified and only then the crime found to fit – rather than a crime being committed and then the (politically) guilty identified – would hold many problems for States wanting to rid themselves of Russian citizens they deem (politically) undesirable for one reason or another.)

Thus, of course, this is not a black and white matter that can be dealt with via broad brushstrokes for such political issues such as Russians that claim to be refugees and/or dissidents – for some will not be despite their claims (for genuine reasons or political expediency).

Therefore when illegally in Ukraine (and otherwise stuck here) taking the risk of a return to Russia having publicly and regularly decried and otherwise “betrayed” the current regime, then approaching the Ukrainian institutions is also a less than inviting prospect.

Of course such matters are indeed recognised by the higher profile Russian dissident community and are not missed by the newly opened NFP, House of Free Russia.

There is a level of paranoia that organisations such as the House of Free Russia will have to overcome from among the dissidents and refugees.  There is also a level of understanding (and a degree of trust) that will have to be reached with the Ukrainian authorities too.  Neither will be easy.

Is an illegally present refugee or dissident any more likely to attend the House of Free Russia than they are any other location that they (perhaps reasonably) suspect will be under the watchful eye of Ukrainian, Russian (and other) security services (notwithstanding the possibility of some extreme nationalists)?

(For those legally in Ukraine there is perhaps a degree of Kremlin trolling to be had from being seen to frequent such premises from a dissident point of view.)

Such is the nature of self preservation and perhaps understandable paranoia, that among dissidents and refugees, there will be questions of organisational infiltration by security services and also of personal data security if any is stored for reasons of fighting a legal or lobbying their cause.  Those concerns may be real and/or simply amplified by a little disinformation.

The apparent “understanding” between Kyiv and Minsk that those Belorussians who came to aid of, and/or fight for Kyiv would not be returned due to bureaucratic reasons such as document expiry is perhaps politically easy to justify for both capitals.   Kyiv would not want to appear so ungrateful as to return them for overstaying and Minsk would not want to receive them thus creating avoidable issues with The Kremlin when it comes to punishment – or not.

However, there will be readers (and some Ukrainian nationalists) who would see it as a stretch to extend such an “understanding” to Russian anti-Kremlin bloggers, twitterati and commentariat  currently in Ukraine.  The pen (or keyboard) may be mightier than the sword (or Kalashnikov) – but insufficiently so to overlook such bureaucracy for many Russian dissidents.

There are also the issues of deciding who is a refugee and/or dissident and who is not.  These are not only issues for the Ukrainian authorities, but also for organisations such as House of Free Russia.

Within the NGO, who decides?  Who decides who decides?  Upon what criteria is the decision to give assistance made?  What boxes have to be ticked, how many boxes are there, and what percentage of boxes ticked equates to assistance?  Are some boxes weighted more heavily than others?  What messages are sent by the decisions made?  How many success stories will equate to trust?  How many failures will equate to organisational irrelevance?

To counter “irrelevance” organisations such as House of Free Russia, particularly as new, enthusiastic, and with an alternative vision for Russia, will not want to limit themselves to such bureaucratic issues surrounding dissidents and refugees illegally in Ukraine.  A freedom of speech platform that shows The Kremlin the middle finger but with little process or structure will not be enough either.  There will be, sooner or later, a desire to create outreach/aid/humanitarian programmes, think-tanking, the lobbying of Ukrainian and also those that have influence with the leadership, the structured countering of disinformation  et al.  Time will tell how quickly that occurs – but with organisational longevity it seems a very likely course.  

As readers are aware, there are so many civil society initiatives in Ukraine to watch it is easy to be overwhelmed (which is a problem unto itself when expecting government to respond to everything in a timely and effective manner).  It remains to be seen whether the authorities in Kyiv will see this as a PR opportunity (among others) or whether it will be seen as an irritation (particularly if the nationalists really go after it).

Nevertheless, first things first.  We shall see whether House of Free Russia will gain the trust of those it aims to help, while similarly surviving the rhetoric of those “headline” Russian dissidents that will seek to undermine it one way or another.  This not withstanding Kremlin efforts to undermine it should traction be gained.

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Ukraine to repeal all remaining Soviet legislation

April 13, 2017

It appears a hobbyhorse of the blog for many years is about to be dealt with.

In the year of the 100th anniversary of the October (Red) Revolution, the Justice Ministry is about to submit a Bill that will finally repeal all remaining domestic statute and resolutions of the Soviet era.

The Bill does not repeal or abolish any ratified international obligations entered into by Ukraine/the USSR prior to independence in 1991.  That to be fair would require some rather more delicate unpicking and perhaps otherwise unnecessary bureaucracy, legal gymnastics and wasted political energy in re-ratification as an independent Ukraine.  Quite simply it isn’t a priority when weighed against the clearly unfit for purpose Soviet statutory hangover that remains upon the current domestic statute books and which unnecessarily hinders public and business life.

Lo, after many years of bemoaning the continued existence of more than 100 Soviet legislative and regulatory acts within the Ukrainian domestic legal sphere, they will soon be consigned to the dusty bin of history joining the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (YCCP) and USSR – and not before time!

Justice Minister Pavlo Pentrenko stating – “There are still a lot of laws on the books from the Soviet era…which create barriers for Ukrainian citizens and businesses. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice developed a bill to repeal the legislation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the USSR.”  Better late than never, although better never late would have been preferable as this is long, long overdue.

That said, this repealing is not going to occur overnight, providing the (in almost all cases unnecessary) opportunity to recreate bureaucracy and centers of administrative power under modern independent Ukrainian statute.  Something to keep a wary eye upon.

The Bill if passes in May (and it is highly unlikely it will fail) within 6 months will repeal all Acts of ministries, presidium, departments and commissions adopted prior to 24th August 1991.  Within 12 months all laws of the USSR and UkrSSR will cease to have legal effect.  Within 3 years, any remaining codified laws and regulations of the UkrSSR with also be terminated.  Thus by 2020 it will only be historians and not lawyers referring to Soviet legislation in Ukraine.

It will be one less hobbyhorse the blog will happily no longer have to ride, nor a drum to sporadically beat.

Next then, despite notable progress repealing more modern but nevertheless unfit statute and regulation passed since independence in 1991, perhaps those hundreds of legal errs can repealed with a little more speed?

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An empirical look at reform progress and parliamentary voting – Ukraine

April 12, 2017

In view of a few, less than encouraging recent entries that run very much contrary to ambitious statements and undertakings by the Ukrainian government to the IMF (notwithstanding those undertakings to be accomplished within a time frame that will simply not be achieved even with the best political will) several friends in Brussels have emailed the blog regarding the momentum (or not) of continued reform during 2017.

Perhaps such inquiries are understandable when reading official communiques and statements pushed under their noses appears, prima facie, to rub against what often appears here.

To be honest the blog has its limitations – mostly due to the dull thinking of its author, but also due to the fact that generally but one entry each day appears – and more often than not, it is an entry that is not the headline news of the day.  It can thus portray a warped or contrarian view if not read as part of a broader reading list.

Ruminations about policy, administration, structure and process, yes – churning out journalism or attempting to portray a news site for the masses, no.

So, an attempt at answering the question of just how glacial will reform in Ukraine be for the rest of the year?

Naturally time would be lost should Prime Minister Groisman (and Cabinet) face and lose a vote of “No Confidence”, as the protracted horse trading surrounding a new PM (and Cabinet) would undoubtedly occur at the expense of almost all else.

However, while a vote of “No Confidence” there may well be, Prime Minister Groisman will almost assuredly survive it.  Whether that will be a spur for a Cabinet reshuffle remains to be seen – perhaps the biggest question being is there any willing, capable and suitable candidates to replace current ministers if such a reshuffle was considered?

Whatever the case, the speed of reform under Prime Minister Groisman and current Cabinet is certainly slower than it was under former Prime Minister Yatseniuk and his Cabinet – in part because much of the “low hanging reform fruit” (and some difficult reform) was legislatively addressed under the previous government.  Much of what is now required is going to be “difficult” as wiggle room circumventing and/or compensating vested interests is now very much smaller.

Further many political eyes are already upon elections 2 years hence with pre-election electioneering clearly underway by some.  Passing necessary but unpopular legislation becomes less appealing.

If Ukraine reenters the commercial money markets by year end as expected, IMF leverage will be reduced.

Vested interests are already clearly pushing back most noticeably by the hijacking of votes and questionable amendments despite clear parliamentary violations when doing so.

Thus the changes to structures and processes upon which effective reform depend, at least those changes submitted by Cabinet for parliamentary vote,  are hostage to both the transparent and opaque forces that (sometimes rightly) rally against.

A most recent example would be the circus that surrounded the second parliamentary reading of Law 5336-1 which sought to codify changes to the structure and appointment processes of the Constitutional Court and “learned” judiciary therein.  Having been voted through on its first reading, the law was then subjected to a staggering 747 proposed amendments prior to any final vote to become statute.

Needless to say, there was no successful second reading and thus no legislative framework for reform of the Constitutional Court structures and processes.  (As always much disagreement will have to do with “power” and who decides who decides what within any new structure or process for a supposedly independent body from that of the body politic.)

Whether a reader chooses to believe this was a deliberate act of sabotage or whether the initially passed legislative text was so woeful (as Ukrainian legislation often is) as to require such a quantity of proposed amendment is perhaps a matter to ponder, but it brings this entry to where it was headed – an albeit less than nuanced look at parliamentary voting patterns and the policy areas that are more successful than others in terms of parliamentary success.

That by extension may help illuminate the more likely (and less likely) spheres for continuing UKrainian reform for friends in Brussels – or not.

Disclaimer:  As wary of statistics and opinion polls generated in Ukraine as the blog is, some results are more easily verifiable than others – such as parliamentary voting which is a matter of public record and therefore fairly simple to corroborate (given the time and will to do so).

According to a recent survey, Prime Minister Groisman (and Cabinet) manages to see 20% of its legislative proposals become statute.  Ergo 80% fail.  (Former PM Yatseniuk (and Cabinet) managed to get 36% of proposed bills to become statute.)

The current government’s greatest support comes from Arseny Yatseniuk’s People’s Front which has witnessed 79% of its MPs vote in favour of PM Groisman led initiatives.  This followed by Mr Groisman’s own party with 73% of its MPs having voted in the affirmative.  65% of  Samopomich MPs, 60% of Radical Party MPs and 50% of Ms Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna MPs also tend to vote along governmental lines.

Unsurprisingly,  OppoBlock 19% and 27% of assorted anti-government parliamentarians have voted in support of current legislative change.  (Of 49 successful Bills, OppoBlock did not cast a single vote in favour for 26 of them.)

So which ministries have been the most successful – and are they thus likely to retain sufficient support for continued reform?

Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the hitherto nod to external assistance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a 50% legislative success rate in the Verkhovna Rada under the premiership of Mr Groisman.

The Ministry of Regional Development has a 38% legislative success rate, followed by Ministries of Education and Culture with 33% and the Ministry of Defence with a 31%.   The Ministry of Infrastructure manages a 25% legislative success rate.

The Ministry of Finance has a 51% success rate – but has also probably been the Ministry (together with the NBU) to garner the most external lobbying/diplomacy behind its proposed statute.

Fairing nowhere near as well are the critical ministries Economic Development and of Social Welfare with an approximate 20% success rate.  That said they are both ministries that submit far more legislative proposals than those listed above (perhaps with the exception of the well lobbied Finance Ministry).

The poisoned chalice that is the Ministry of Health is about to have its time in the legislative spotlight in the immediate future.  Perhaps the Ministry of Justice later this year too.

So does this help identify where continued reform (and just as importantly reform consolidation) is most likely to occur?

Well perhaps, but much of the policy low hanging fruit required to be set in statute will have already been harvested, and the required legislation submitted by those such as the Ministry of Health (which retains a toxic civil service staff) remains for the most part untried.

To be sure most decentralisation legislation, and that enabling ties to European institutions and/or participation in European programmes will continue to garner support, but it is the purely domestic reforms that trample upon existing vested interests and blatantly corrupt schemes that remain far from certain and which are, for the most part, more critical to the economy and relevant to the Ukrainian voting constituency.

Oft woeful legislative text aside that deservedly receives scrutiny and rebuttal , does any of the above shed much light on the speed or quantity parliamentary reform successes and failures ahead for 2017?  Maybe, but probably not.

What inquiring friends in Brussels can be sure of is that it remains a long, slow, and meandering road ahead and new external leverage will have to be found if the most urgent and difficult issues are to be dealt with effectively.

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Radio Glas (Mayor Trukhanov) Odessa fined for ignoring Ukrainian language legislation

April 11, 2017

Almost a year ago an entry appeared regarding a forthcoming law requiring a certain percentage of broadcasting to be transmitted in Ukrainian, duly noting that other nations such as France had similar statutory requirements (even if those requirements didn’t necessarily sit well with French broadcasters).

Since that entry Ukraine has duly adopted similar legislation to both promote and defend the Ukrainian language – the raison d’etre no different to that of France.

Ukrainian statute requires radio broadcasters to broadcast 50% in Ukrainian.

So be it – and by and large Ukrainian radio broadcasters have managed to find enough Ukrainian music (sometimes of dubious quality) to match either their broad and/or narrow audiences musical expectations.

Nevertheless where many radio broadcasters have met the statutory 50% quota, other have failed – and some by a wide margin.

Among those that have been monitored and that have failed is Glas Radio.  The ultimate ownership of Glas Radio is the same as the ownership of Glas TV.

Regardless of what the official documents may say it is no secret in Odessa that Glas TV and Glas Radio is ultimately owned by Gennady Trukhanov, Mayor of Odessa.  (With regard to Glas Radio official ownership, it belongs to Valentine Zholin (56%) and Leonid Moldavsky (44%).  Director being Elena Evdokimova.)

Glas Radio, unlike many competing local radio stations, somehow managed to broadcast a mere 31% in the Ukrainian language despite its statutory obligations and has been duly fined as statute dictates.

Although the fine clearly represents no financial problem for Glas Radio/Mayor Trukhanov, his widely known ownership of Glas (despite official documents) is a somewhat unwelcome setback to a recent and on-going local media blitzkrieg that has been nothing short of a “Trukhangelical” campaign to whitewash his (criminal) history and project an image of papal infallibility when it comes to running City Hall.

As such this unnecessary and public statutory violation is something of a PR campaign setback.

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