Posts Tagged ‘Azarov’

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Controlling negative media – Ukraine

February 4, 2013

Oh dear – Mykola Azarov, the Ukrainian Prime Minister is not happy about the amount of negative news on Ukrainian television channels.

What to do?

Well, firstly, deal with Ukraine’s most popular TV channel which in the past few months has become far more critical of government and open to opposition input.  I touched upon the probability that Inter would become less government friendly on 4th November 2012, when commenting upon the who’s in and who’s out of the inner sanctum of Ukrainian politics – one of the “out’s” being Mr Khoroshkovsky who happened to own 61% of the nation’s most watched channel.

“This may seem a bit “so what?”, but which “in’s” are “out” as the presidential elections in 2015 get closer is significant – particularly when “outs” like Khoroshkovsky and Poroshenko own some of the most watched national TV channels in Ukraine.

Thus how far “out” these necessary “in’s” can be pushed is a fine art.- particularly if your current policies are contrary to their business interests.

Should Poroshenko run for President and Khoroshkovsky back him, then Yanukovych has a serious problem both in terms of financial ability, media coverage/ownership and public profile. Lest we forget, Poroshenko is not a member of the Party of Regions but an independent.”

Obviously recognising the threat as I did back then, Mr Khoroshkovsky is now so far “out” that on Friday he sold his controlling share of his media group to Dmitry Firtash for an estimated $2.5 billion – a sale that seems anything other than voluntary – “Under conditions that had formed, I have no possibility to ensure development of the Group. Just those circumstances became my main motive for the sale.” – At least Mr Khoroshkovsky’s statement can be inferred as such.

Thus, Inter, NTN, K1, Mega, Enter Film, K2, Pixel and MTS all now belong to Dmitry Firtash via his GTF Media Ltd – assuming the anti-monopoly committee rubber stamp the sale, which is a foregone conclusion.

From a government viewpoint, Dmitry Firtash is certainly more friendly towards it than Mr Khoroshkovsky since he left its ranks – thus he could no longer be allowed to control such a vast and influential media empire.  Obviously one expects that this media group will return to a position that is very hostile towards the opposition (particularly given the extremely bad blood between Firtash and Tymoshenko), reversing a very welcome trend that occurred when Mr Khoroshkovsky announced his departure from government.

However these shenanigans will not remove all the negative news that Prime Minister Azarov is concerned about being aired across the nation’s television broadcasters.

A glance at the Prime Minister’s facebook page on Friday (1 February), displays a very troubling entry indeed.

To save you from trying to find it and then translate it, a Ukrainian citizen named Illiya Khanin proposed to him that all negative news should be either shown after 10pm at night or on a separate dedicated “bad news” channel.  The Prime Minister’s response “I absolutely agree with you, and today I spoke about this at a meeting with activists of the Ukrainian journalists’ union. You have given me a very good idea – we should order a sociological survey to see how many supporters we have, and tell this to the whole country.”

Really?  A good idea?  In a nation where I can see womens breasts in countless films, dead and mutilated bodies in road accidents or crime news footage at anytime day or night on many channels – why should “bad news” have some form of special treatment?

Define “bad news”?  Embarrassing stories for the government?  The daily slaughter on Ukrainian roads?  The regular gruesome murder footage?  Am I to be left with trashy Slavic pop music or a womans tits in my cornflakes until after 10pm on every Ukrainian television channel?

A dedicated “bad news” channel?  Will its very first broadcast be “the bad news is that all bad news will only be shown on this channel from now on”…….and then suddenly the signal is lost for weeks on end to avoid any bad news being aired at all?

The bad news is that this has even had a moments consideration by the Prime Minister at all – and considering the high penetration of the Internet, a medium where this idea was put to him via facebook, it would be a rather pointless exercise anyway when “bad news” is often all over the Internet long before it is aired on TV.

Surely the best way to control “bad news” is to generate less of it as a government in the first place – and if that cannot be done due to circumstances beyond its control, it can certainly do things that generate “good news” for a change!

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Azarov nominated as Prime Minister again by the President

December 10, 2012

It seems the Ukrainian President has nominated Mykola Azarov has been nominated for the post Prime Minister again, before the President disappears into the sunset on a visit to India.

Not much to say about that nomination really, other than it has put to bed rumours of other candidates.

Azarov may be a grey, uninspiring, rigid soviet era bureaucrat, but he is a very capable administrator if I am to be completely honest.  Not much of a recommendation I know, so I doubt I will be getting a reference request from him in the near future!

One wonders if there will be many changes to ministerial/cabinet posts over the next few weeks?  I doubt it, but  time, as always, will tell.

azarov

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Ukraine – Social Media and Anti-Corruption

June 23, 2012

Whilst on Dnipropetrovsk 24 TV, a local channel, Prime Minister Azarov, a very frequent Facebook user, suggested that whilst he encourages anybody to inform authorities of corruption within their ranks, should they wish to do so, he encourages them to inform him personally via Facebook.

This idea was then given a national broadcast via the government website.

A waste of time many will immediately think, considering many consider the government corrupt as well, which indeed it is, as were all previous governments.

However, one has to suspect that this is not aimed at top level government corruption amongst the elite of the elite but at the regional fiefdoms and regional administrations that have the most direct and obvious interference and coercion in peoples lives via daily bureaucracy.

As I have written more times than I can remember here, when it comes to stifling reforms and robustly obstructing anything decreed by Kyiv that will interfere with regional administrations and regional agency graft, no Ukrainian government has ever come close to combating this problem.

All mightily fail where policy implementation is concerned if the regional patriarchy and administrations feel their corrupt practices are threatened by a diktat from those in Kyiv.  So entwined are the regional patriarchy, administration and State agencies, creating a problem for one can lead to severe consequences and retaliation via others seemingly completely unrelated for the vast majority of the citizenry.

Needless to say, formal complaints about corruption are made only by the very principled, quasi-powerful who have friends higher up the patriarchal chain, or who have simply nothing to lose and therefore nothing much to fear.

Complaining of local corruption to local officials about a specific local official or incident is therefore not normally something that is done and also reinforces the perception that all people within the local administrations are corrupt.

That perception is in fact false.  Not all local officials are corrupt.  There are those that will in any conversation, warn that attempting to bribe them is a crime and that they will not be bribed.  I have met many such people in such positions in Odessa and have have that very lecture myself on numerous occasions.

The media, like all media, are good for headlines for a day or two, but in a world of 24 hour news, they soon move on to the next scandal.

Anyway, returning to Prime Minister Azarov and what seems to be an attempt not only to show transparency and taking local corruption seriously in the run up to an election, it brings about a broader point of who to use social media and the Internet to combat corruption.

There are pros and cons to this naturally.  Allegations and the besmirching of character when there is indeed nothing untoward is a distinct possibility.  For administrative or regional agency entities who want to rid themselves of an overly principled individual, a social media campaign by minions of a patriarchal system wanting favours can easily create a storm from nowhere made of numerous groundless accusations.

Reliance on libel or defamation laws in an opaque and crooked legal system is not necessarily a place of redress.  Even if redress is found there, the damage to reputation has already been done.   This is but one example of the possible negative influences of the social media and Ukrainian media in general, who it has to be said, are not always as diligent in their fact checking or corroboration as they could and should be before going to print.

On the positive side, it would serve to draw the attention of more senior government to the actions of specific regional minions and specific allegations of corruption which could then be investigated giving the appearance of, and possibly actually taking on, the regional graft endemic in Ukraine.

If the regional corruption was successfully tackled it would probably remove 95% of all corruption faced directly by the average Ukrainian citizen.  Let’s be honest, there are not that many Ukrainians who play in the corrupt pool of the elite for big stakes and whilst the indirect corruption rife within the senior government naturally has an effect on all Ukrainians, it is not done on a face to face basis as it is with a local pencil pusher in an obscure administrative agency.

One possibility that comes to mind is those who have dealings with the local authorities as contractors and sub-contracts, make public their arrangements with the local authorities, at least as far as the value of those contracts goes.  They are then easily comparable to the figures city hall submit to Kyiv and any large divergence would be spotted quite simply.

The problem is not only clauses of non-disclosure, but also competitive edge when tenders are due in the future.  Any competition will undoubtedly have a keen interest in the value of a contract with the authorities should it be made public to aid transparency against corruption.

The question of anonymous  tip-offs or anonymous whistle blowers is of dubious use.  If the only evidence is an anonymous tip and none other is found, there is no chance of any action against a corrupt official with no witness prepared to given sworn evidence.  On the other hand, it may well cause the eyes of investigators to find enough to take action was their attention is drawn to a certain individual in the regional set up.

For sure, sting operations are a regular event with undercover police paying bribed to nefarious regional people in power.   Unfortunately, all to often they have not had any action taken against them, but the nefarious act has been held over them to make them subservient to those in power in Kyiv.

This I know for an absolute fact has occurred with a city mayor (not Odessa) accepting $2 million in cash in marked money and caught on camera hidden within a womans handbag who handed over the money, and also the director of a private Jewish school taking several thousand US$ to miraculously find a place for a child for the following school year when previously there were no spaces, captured doing the deed in the very same way.

Both caught red-handed, both had no criminal action taken against them, but both became far closer to the then government than they were before.  There is no reason to suspect the police modus operandi has changed any since the new government came in, or that the outcome has been any different when such successes in capturing corrupt officials with marked money and on camera occurs.

Where social media is different, is that such a thing caught on camera can be on You Tube within seconds and viral within a minute, making it far harder to avoid the courts and to use such incriminating evidence to the benefit of any sitting government (whilst leaving a now compliant corrupt official in place).

Already there are dedicated social media groups targeting the traffic police and bribe taking (quite rightly).  As yet none have taken to sting operations against officials who sit behind a desk.

Maybe that will come in due time.

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Political Will (and application) – A matter of trust

March 30, 2012

It’s not often the opportunity arises to pop your head above the barricades to find both government, opposition and media all talking about the same thing at the same time and all leaving themselves open for a quick volley of fire before ducking back down behind the barricades and allowing them to play their games amongst themselves once more.

Our targets today are Prime Minister Azarov, Natalia Korolevska and an article in The Moscow Times.  The subjects justice, corruption and the political will to provide improvements to both.  All three see political will as the answer to the problems within the Ukrainian and Russian society.  I think it is something far more fundamental – Trust.

To keep matters simple, let us concentrate on their recent comments on justice systems and tackling corruption which apparently can be tackled by political will alone according to two out of three of them.  Only Azarov briefly  mentions the key underlying factor that regardless of political will accomplishing legal or systemic changes amongst the administrative arms of the State and judiciary, is required for any changes to be successful – That factor is trust.

No matter how well designed, no matter how tried and tested, no matter how safe and protective in an accident, or how beneficial to society and the environment an electric car may be, if you don’t think it will perform well, you won’t buy into the concept.

Similarly society must have trust in the political and judicial systems.  They are two foundational pillars of society and they have to be trusted to be effective.

Let us start with The Moscow Times article and this quote from it –  “Of course, no particular political willpower is required to dismiss someone whom a court of law has found guilty of corruption, but it is needed in large supply when firing someone whom a leader has good reason to believe — based on media reports or other evidence — has been involved in corrupt practices. No doubt the person who gets sacked will raise a clamor, remind his employer of their long personal friendship and possibly even threaten to sue for wrongful dismissal. The senior official will simply have to endure the unpleasantness, remind his old friend that nothing can justify taking kickbacks on state contracts and that he is free to seek justice through the courts if he feels he has been wronged. In other words, all that is needed to stop corruption is a little personal integrity and political willpower.”

Now there is nothing to disagree with contained in that quote whatsoever – if you have trust that the courts will back up your decision to sack the individual in question and that the individual in question is not better connected or in a financial position to influence the outcome of the court.  Unfortunately both Russians and Ukrainians are well aware that influence or money can provide a legal outcome that is completely opposite of what the evidence displays.

Just because you are somebody’s boss doesn’t necessarily mean you are more powerful than them in the grand scheme of things.  So distorted are matters that you may well sack somebody for corruption to then discover they are far more connected than you assumed, you lose in court when they appeal and find yourself sacked instead,  whilst they take your position as the boss.  9 times from 10 things wouldn’t go to court, however it only takes one instants to change your life in a surprisingly bad way.

Thus there is an absolute need to trust the judicial system if challenging the patriarchal system.

Next, let’s see what pearls of wisdom Natalia Korolevska returned from Brussels with after her Korolevska Foundation forum there a few days ago.  The answer is obviously no new pearls of wisdom at all, and she is saying nothing that dozens of RADA MPs haven’t already said over the last decade or more.

Unfortunately for Ms Korolevska, some of us have better memories than others and she herself acknowledged that all RADA members know what the problems are but don’t do anything about it back in 2006 – “It seems that everyone here is well aware of the difficulties, but nobody makes an attempt resolve them and to help the people.” – Ms Korolevska, you are working with and talking with the same people you mentioned in 2006.  Your latest statement, as you well know, means nothing as they all already know what you have tried to imply is a visionary way forwards.

She is hardly setting an example either.  Somehow she has managed to amount a net worth (as estimated in Focus magazine 2009) of almost $250 million and recently has expanded from her food empire and entered coal.  Claims she no longer has business interests and all business assets are in her husband’s name and under his sole control are understandably met with a great degree of cynicism.  Again, trust is the issue with making such a claim.

However, whilst we can broadly agree with most of what she states, this sentence we really do have to examine: – “Corrupt bureaucracy cannot be charged with implementation of reforms.”  – Sticking with the judicial system as the theme, it is simply impossible to remove all existing judges, prosecutors and advocats in Ukraine from the system as there are not enough to replace them all with new, uncorrupted, fresh out of the box replacements.  Accepting that, who else can implement the reforms?

If, as is desperately needed in Ukraine, the judiciary are allowed to be genuinely independent from their political and business masters (often one and the same thing), then it would be folly to grant them that independence and the necessary immunity from prosecution that goes with it (to prevent outside pressure influencing them), prior to reforms.

To grant them genuine independence and immunity prior to any reforms would leave the corrupt judges, prosecutors and advocats in place whilst also making them almost untouchable and exceptionally difficult to remove thereafter.

Also, the political appointing of judges would need to end.  As it currently stands in Ukraine, judicial appointments are made by the president in some cases and the RADA in others as per the Constition (Title VIII).  A completely non-political appointment system such as the UK’s Judicial Appointments Commission would need to be set up and have that authority, both to hire and to fire.

To do that the Ukrainian Constitution would need to be changed, but as Ms Korolevska and her opposition colleagues are refusing to participate in the ex-President Kravchuk led Constitutional Assembly tasked with working through the constitution and amending it, that work is stalled.

In the case of the judiciary, it seems impracticable to do as Ms Korolveska states and remove the existing personnel within the structure prior to those within it implementing any reforms.  The numbers of qualified and suitable replacements simply do not exist to take a hatchet to them all and then afterwards reform the system.

There is a very careful balance between the integrity of the judicial system, which at the end of the day is the absolute priority for any legal system, and the stability of it whilst reforming it (thus allowing it to function as reforms work their way through.)

Just how Ms Korolevska indeeds to reform the judicial system without those currently within it having a very large part to play in that I am not sure.  Hopefully she will explain how this can and will be done.  Maybe she has a cupboard full of brand spanking new and untainted judges, prosecutors and advocats ready to replace all those currently active within the Ukrainian justice system?

Lastly we get to the current Ukrainian Prime Minister, who at least manages to recognise that what is essential in any reform – trust.  He manages to use the word.

Unfortunately, for him, his government, the opposition and entire political class, trust is not a word used by society when referring to any of them.  Almost to a man/woman they have proven to be untrustworthy, opaque in their extra-political business dealings, corrupt and manipulative for their own ends.

If there is any trust between society and the political elite, it is that society trusts them to do what is right for themselves and not society more often than not.  When the entire RADA is made up of millionaires and billionaires in a nation that has a relatively poor GDP per capita income, society is obviously going to be suspicious of each and every one of them.

Under what circumstances does the average poorly paid Ukrainian trust a politician worth $ millions who made their money through opaque business practices or thievery from the public purse?

The politicians don’t even trust each other.  Why haven’t the opposition parties united?  Because they don’t trust each other.  To quote Ms Korolevska after she was expelled from Yulia Tymoshenko’s political block only 2 weeks ago, “Deputies from the so-called opposition have united with the majority factions; an anti-national majority consisting of representatives of the current and previous government has been formed in the Verkhovna Rada.”  – She doesn’t trust those she claims to be trying to forge a united opposition party with anymore than they trust her.  None of them trust each other.  They will not genuinely unite and they will remain dysfunctional because of this.

It is no surprise that so many Ukrainian politicians have family members in politics with them.  When there is no trust amongst colleagues then the patriarchal system brings with it that necessary but missing trust.

Therefore, political will and reform implementation are a matter of trust at its most fundamental level.  As it is, in Ukraine, the government doesn’t trust the opposition or the administrative arms of the State.  The opposition doesn’t trust the government or other the opposition parties, and they also don’t trust the administrative arms of the State.  Society doesn’t trust any of them.

So before there can be the political will, the reforms, the faith in administrative systems for individuals to act with personal integrity and know that there is a solid judicial system that will back them, there first of all needs to be trust.

That is something that will be incredibly difficult to produce.

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Prime Minister Azarov’s Speech – Election battlefield identified

March 9, 2012

Here is the speech of Prime Minister Azarov from 7th March to the government and President of Ukraine.

Notable for drawing up the battle lines upon which the government seems intent to fight the October election  for many and notable for me due to his forth point, which is a point I have been making here for a very long time:

“Fourth. We will pay special attention, in my opinion, the weakest link in the implementation of all measures – the system of local government. Unfortunately, we have a paradox: the local authorities, who are closest to the people, often turn out to be the most far from the need of our people.

If you look at appeals to government’s call-center, post office of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers there is the impression that, besides the President, Government, there is no authority.

Why do people immediately address to the President, the Prime Minister, so that the wood would be brought, for example or an elevator would be established or turn the heat?

Why in the various local offices, a reception day – just one a week and then half a day? It creates lines, especially complicated the lives of those people who are forced to go to the office.

Why, for example, a person has to wait an elementary legal act on the land six months, a year or even a year and half?

Therefore, the Government has to pay special attention to it. I would ask local authorities, especially now when there is a process of deregulation, I stress, 54 different regulatory acts was canceled, do not take and do not create additional complications in the field, but on the contrary – as their decisions to simplify the work with the business.

Certainly there is a main task to increase the resources of local budgets, because what we are told will require a concentration of huge financial resources and they must focus not only on the level of the state budget, but also at the level of local budgets.”

To be fair to Mr Azarov, whatever faults he may have, he is recongised as a very capable administrator even by the opposition parties.  As I have pointed so many times, the regional fiefdoms and regional patriarchy are often responsible for ignoring direction from Kyiv.  In this speech Mr Azarov at least recognises that this is the biggest problem and the weakest administrative link.

The question is, as it has always been, how can central government control the regional fiefdoms without metaphorically lopping off the heads of elected regional dignitaries?  A perpetual cycle of election after election as each Mayor ignores Kyiv and does his own thing doesn’t suit anybody but following the Putin lead of appointing regional heads rather than electing them is somewhere that the government will not want to go given its authoritarian label.

As it happens, the Russians have just reintroduced electing region heads for reasons anybody watching Russia recently will understand.

Is there a structure that can leave elected officials in place whilst allowing for direct policy implementation and fiscal allocations from Kyiv in the regions?  Will core central government domestic policy be removed from the remit of local authorities when it comes to implementation and monitoring, in effect leading to a shadow technocratic local authority?

How many elected heads would need to metaphorically roll before the regional fiefdoms got the message from Kyiv?

How would the electorate respond to those they elected to public office being removed by Kyiv (even if Kyiv has a justified and legitimate reason for doing so)?

These are but a few questions of many that come immediately to mind when thinking about just how Kyiv can control the very strong regional fiefdoms when it comes to central government policy being effectively implemented in local society.

It will be interesting to see how Mr Azarov deals with such matters in the coming months having declared social policies the battle ground chosen by the government for the October 2012 parliamentary elections.

Whether social policies is a wise choice remains to be seen, however given the long list of broken social promises relating to the previous government (such as refunds to account holders when banks went bust which never or only partly materialised) and currently being in power when it is relatively simple (although maybe not affordable) to raise pensions, minimum wages etc, it maybe a reasonable platform for the October elections.

Time will tell, but the government’s chosen battle ground seems to be clear enough.  Like all governments before them though, effective implementation via ineffective and occasionally subversive regional fiefdoms is the real battlefield to which no government has ever risen to the challenge and won.

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Financial stabily assured in Ukraine – Really?

August 6, 2011

Now you expect leadership and reassurance from those you put in charge.  If you didn’t, in a democracy, you wouldn’t put them in charge.  At least that is the theory we all assume to be the case with fairly democratically elected officials.

Therefore it is quite natural for Ukrainian officials, in this case Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov, to come out and state that there is no threat to the national currency even during the current uncertainty over the global economic situation.

Expected reassurances aside, the question is how much truth there is in his statement “Once again I want to stress that citizens and businesses can count on the financial stability in Ukraine, the stability of the national currency.”

One is immediately reminded of those luminary statements of his predecessor Yulia Tymoshenko who, at the commencement of the financial crisis in 2008, informed the Ukrainian nation that Ukraine would not be affected by those events.  Those global events, needless to say, kicked the stuffing out of Ukraine far harder than most other nations and in the process displayed an economic awareness of Ms Tymoshenko equal to that of my cat.  However, I do not wish to dwell on porr judgment or Ms Tymoshenko.  She has enough problems right now.

The question is, does Mr Azarov, given the fact that the global money is in a panic with both US and Euro under extreme pressure due to loss of confidence in governmental/organisational economic management?  Ukraine is hardly an island with a closed economy from the rest of the world.  It is a major exporting nation, albeit most growth being reported at the moment is domestically driven.

Prime Minister Azarov

The pension reform and current unwillingness to address the raising of utility prices to the public by reducing subsidies, both requirements for further IMF borrowing remain unresolved.  Whilst Ukraine is currently holding record currency reserves and may not need the IMF money tomorrow, the stand-off with the IMF will have a causal effect of raising the interest cost to Ukraine on the bond market if IMF demanded reforms stall.

The local currency is, in effect, unofficially pegged to the US$ value.  That said, whilst the US$ has lost value against major currencies around the world it has remained steady in Ukraine with almost no fluctuation, due no doubt, to intervention here.

How long can domestically generated growth make up for the lack of global demand in Ukrainian major export markets?  Long enough to maintain financial stability in Ukraine as Mr Azarov claims?  We are looking at quite a number of years for reliable, non-derivative/non-bubble driven, sustainable growth to come back to the world economy with the inherent positive effects for an exporting economy such as Ukraine.

However, if you want to look at the fundamentals of Ukraine through rose-tinted glasses, it would appear quite a sound proposition compared to many other nations.  In truth, it generally is doing quite well and has huge potential if the fundamentals are supported through transparency and effective, universally applied rule of law.  Whist the fundamentals are good, the risks are fairly high without effective structural and agency support or a very good and connected guide through the labyrinth of bureaucracy, vested interests and regional patrons.

Writing a raft of acceptable laws in parity to those of other nations is one thing – applying them is quite another, and application rather than legislation is one of the major difficulties in Ukraine due to the influence of the national and regional patronage.  Nevertheless, the new legislation has generally been steps in the right direction, even if unpopular with society on several occasions.

So, returning to the question, will Mr Azarov be right?  I would have far more belief if those words had left the mouth of Irena Akimova to be honest.  In the immediate term he probably will be.  Six months from now may be a very different matter and those circumstances with which the Ukrainian leadership will have to deal, will largely be created by external actors.

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Ukraine must stop foreign borrowing – Azarov‏

July 25, 2011

Well you did wonder when Ukraine was going to mirror the political divides of the US, the UK and many other EU nations over the issue of debts and deficits.

It seems Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov would take an extremely cautious and conservative view. “We have to restrict, or maybe even completely suspend foreign borrowing, and have to be extremely careful while issuing state guarantees” (on commercial loans).

He is of course quite right to have concern over the effect the current US failure to reach agreement over its debt ceiling will have on a global scale. That will pale into insignificance come October when the US delivers (if it does) a budget for the next year that will not address debt or deficit to market satisfaction.

He is right to concern himself over the Eurozone issues as the latest agreement seemingly sets the stage for the creation of a EMF (European Monetary Fund) quite similar to the IMF. That though will mean major national and EU structural legal changes which may or may not get passed relevant nations parliament or referendums if necessary/held.

Now is probably not the right time to go rushing into the international market borrowing money with such immediate uncertainty ahead. Much more will be apparent by the end of the year with regards to the likelihood of the legal creation of something like the EMF and also the reaction globally to the US budget in October.

With record reserves of about $37 billion, even if it cost $15 billion in government spending before the end of the year, quite possibly that is a wise course than to borrow from the markets at the moment.

The Prime Minister’s position does seem to put him at odds with Deputy Prime Minister Tigipko who is insistent that continued and speedy IMF borrowing should occur.

To be fair to Tigipko, whether Ukraine needs the money or not, it does need to shed the huge subsidies it gives the public when it comes to utilities and which is a key condition of further IMF lending. Irrespective of the money, sticking to the IMF agreement provides the discipline to achieve what otherwise will not get sufficient political backing to get through the RADA. Public ire can always be partially deflected towards the IMF when all is said and done whilst it remains a key condition of the future loan installments.

There are pros and cons to both arguments of course. There are always pros and cons with any decision. Still, at least the issue has appeared as a blip on the Ukrainian radar.

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