Posts Tagged ‘Canada’


Chernobyl reactor entombed at last

November 29, 2016

A very short entry to firstly acknowledge a major piece of engineering, and secondly the symbolic entombment of a toxic Soviet legacy within a western funded and built sarcophagus – (Sarcastic readers are now pondering whether the Verkhovna Rada should be next perhaps?)


The full facts and figures can be found at the EBRD website, together with a video showing the final settling of the sarcophagus in place, outlining what a major feat of engineering the project has been.

Bravo to all concerned.  A truly significant achievement.


A Rada week that will be one legislative step backwards?

October 3, 2016

This week the Verhovna Rada will see the following draft laws presented for voting:

Draft Law 3665 – A draft law on mediation creating legitimate mediation institutions in an effort to reduce pressure upon the judicial system.

Draft Law 2297 – A draft law relating to the creation of a far more favourable tax environment for charity donations made via telecom company operating systems (donations via text/SMS etc).

Draft Law 3491D – Relates to framework education, outlining obligations and accountability throughout the administrative structures.

Draft Law 4549 – Which seeks to meet Ukrainian obligations under EU Directive 2012/27/EU within the energy market.

Draft Law 3603 – Proposes to align Ukrainian water management practices with the EU Water Framework Directive.

Draft Law 3259 – Aimed at the State and its strategic environmental assessment mechanisms.

Draft Law 2009a -D – Would bring Ukraine within the requirements of Directives 2003/4/EC and 2011/92/EU (not withstanding the several other conventions to which it is a party).

None of the draft laws are perfect.  Some are good, and some not so good.  Most, indeed probably all will require amendment – as there are few Ukrainian laws that are written so well that they subsequently escape amendment almost before the ink is dry on any presidential signature signing them into law.

Long has the blog bemoaned the standard of crafting and drafting of legislation in Ukraine – and that will undoubtedly continue far into the future.

This brings about a number of suggested amendments also before the Verkhovna Rada in the coming week that simply fall into the counterproductive and/or woeful categories.

Draft Law 4370-1 – A law that seeks to amend the procedure for appointing the heads of local state administrations.  Not only is it clearly unconstitutional, it presents the holder of the office of President with the opportunity if not usurp power, then to grasp power tightly at the very root of local democracy.

Draft Laws 5097 and 5177 – “The Lutsenko Drafts” seek to remove the exclusivity of NABU in investigating corruption among the elite as described in a previous entry.  This will simply not sit well with the national constituency, nor the “external friends” of Ukraine that have spent a lot of political and diplomatic energy, not to mention financial assistance and training for NABU.

Draft Laws 1592 and 5079 – The much anticipated attempts to weaken the e-declaration legislation by removing criminal responsibility for submitting deliberately false information within their declarations, and also to curtail access to e-declarations.

To be clear the e-declaration law is not perfect.  It does unquestionably require amendment.

However the removal of criminal responsibility for false declarations is not where fault lies within the current legal text.  To be sure without criminal responsibility few would expect the feckless and in many cases distinctly criminal within the political class to pay much heed to the accurate completion of their e-declaration.



The issue of public access to e-declarations is perhaps a far more sensitive matter.

There are 7 nations that have committed to (but not yet delivered) public registries very similar to that of the Ukrainian e-declaration.

31 nations are considering making their registers/declarations public.

Only 2 countries have actually created a public register of declarations – The UK was the first and Ukraine is now the second.  For once Ukraine is leading the way in the transparency arena.

To be a public figure within a democratic legislature or senior civil servant within Ukrainian State institutions demands an advanced level transparency – particularly in a nation like Ukraine where corruption is deeply ingrained within this class of people.

The desire of Ukrainian society to also see included in those e-declarations the assets of parents and children of public figures and/or senior public servants is entirely understandable when they have historically been consistently used to hide the assets of public figures.  This is currently a legal requirement prior to any legislative amendments.

It is justifiable, and it is indeed currently legitimate, for prescribed investigative anti-corruption bodies to have access to all such information on an e-declaration including that of family members who hold no public office, but is it proportionate in respect to individual privacy of non-public figures for the entire nation to have access via a public register?  Is it justifiable for anybody to gain access to information relating to non-public family members simply because the information is stored on Government servers via any Ukrainian equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act?

The fundamental question is whether or not the same freedom of information access to that of public figures should equate to the same level of access relating to non-public family members?  It is where matters may get a little messy and may perhaps darken the door of the ECfHR one day in the future unless due consideration is given.

Emotion dictates that full and absolute transparency is demanded from public figures who have stolen from the Ukrainian people (and therefore this blog) directly and indirectly daily, and for decades.  Morality demands that their nefarious gains should not be allowed to be hidden via their family members, or easily in any other way – perhaps for many, regardless of any rights to privacy.  Proportionality however, specifically with regard to family members, may consider unfettered access to all such information in a public register worthy deliberation should the data demands of the e-declaration remain unchanged.

Sooner or later, this issue will be raised.  In the meantime however, few in Ukraine will have any sympathy for the privacy rights of those involved, one way or another, in raping, pillaging and hording the proceeds of the country over the past 25 years (and more).

Nevertheless, the proposed Draft Laws 1592 and 5079 are far from being the remedies for the issues within the e-declaration legislation.


The Kremlin merges Crimea with its Southern Federal District

July 28, 2016

August is a month that in recent years brings with it increased difficulties born of The Kremlin for Ukraine.  This combined with a major sporting event, which has also coincided with Kremlin shenanigans fairly frequently over the years would perhaps prompt a reader to expect a difficult few weeks ahead for Ukraine.  The entrails of the Rio Olympics in August perhaps do not read particularly well for Ukraine.


The 28th July witnessed its first “August surprise” a few days early – albeit perhaps not the surprise it should/could have been.  President Putin signed a decree ending the Federal District of Crimea and merging it into the Southern Federal District.

Southern District in Blue (less Crimea)

Southern District in Blue (less Crimea)

The more astute observers may have predicted such a move based upon a previous decree placing the Southern Military District and Crimea under the command of Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov following his recall from leading the Kremlin’s Syrian campaign.

A matter of consolidating military command and control, and also public administration, by moving it away from the peninsula itself and placing its power centers within internationally recognised Russian territory.  The result being occupied Crimea now squarely falls within both military and administrative control of the respective civil and military Southern Districts of the Russian Federation based in Rostov-on-Don.

The reasoning behind the move has been cited as being necessary to “improve governance” – which is entirely plausible (although perhaps not the real reason for canceling the separate Crimean status when assimilating Crimea into the Southern District control apparatus) considering the exceptionally poor governance and administrative abilities displayed by the current “authorities” since 2014.

As yet the repercussions of the Crimean assimilation into the command structures of the Southern District, both military and civilian remain to be seen – perhaps the forthcoming Duma elections will provide some indication.

For sure whatever grubby political deals had been previously arranged within the peninsula may have to be renegotiated with those now in control from Rostov-On-Don.  Alternatively, perhaps those in Rostov-On-Don have an entirely different plan for the elites within its newly acquired administrative territory.

Either which way, and at the very least, there will now have to be accommodation for the “rent seeking” expected by those within the Rostov-On-Don machinery.  Money flows from “rent seeking” will have to be, at least in part, redirected.  Organised crime structures too may need to seek new accommodations within the power centers of the Southern District.

For Ukraine and the West, the question is now what to do about Crimean sanctions – a far simpler matter when it remained a distinct stand-alone administrative centre post the illegal annexation.  There are now questions to be asked  and answered as to whether they will extend to those within the Southern District’s that will undoubtedly violate the sanctions imposed regarding Crimea specifically.

For those “western” capitols already wavering regarding sanctions, this additional complication may prove to be too much – albeit it already seems unlikely 2017 will conclude witnessing a continued unity within the EU Member States.  That said, the issue of sanctions specifically applied to Crimea have never been subject to wobbles – the issue of wobbles has always related to the sanctions that were imposed that are not Crimea specific but caused by the on-going Kremlin actions within the occupied Donbas.

This change of Crimean circumstance will perhaps muddy the waters somewhat.

A reader may ponder what August will yet further bring – for the month of August rarely heralds anything good, but rather a deliberate concentration of ill-deeds from The Kremlin in recent years.


Russia sanctions – VR sets a poor example

July 12, 2016

With western sanctions on both sides of the Atlantic regarding Russia set to continue into early 2017, where after a reader may rightly ponder the ability of the EU Member States to maintain solidarity (discounting specifically Crimean sanctions) in what will be a far more difficult political climate, Ukraine will be forced to try and up its diplomatic game among the EU nations in an effort to keep them in place.

It will be a tremendously difficult task in the absence of Minsk being fully implemented, or an exceptionally serious uptick in death, destruction and violence in the war involving ordnance and equipment subject to the Minsk agreements – or mass civilian casualties.

This will require some guile, deft diplomacy, and perhaps some pleading in certain capitols once 2017 arrives.

Ukraine therefore must lead by example and remain steadfast in its own relations with the Kremlin.  Ukrainian sanctions therefore cannot be seen to wobble, become an issue of unnecessary uncertainty, or be allowed to be seen to fall to a place far from the top of the domestic political agenda.   Ukrainian sanctions, no differently to western sanctions, once they were imposed are problematic in their removal unless achieving and/or having successfully protected the interests over which they were initiated in the first place.

Everybody understands the reciprocity issues, and everybody understands the difficulties of sanction removal once initiated.

It is therefore incumbent upon Ukraine to be seen to lead the way on sanctions towards Russia.  It cannot expect others to sanction, and continue those sanctions, if Ukraine becomes indecisive, actually wobbles, or is perceived to demote their value in any matters “political”.

The almost certain continuous Crimean sanctions aside, those sanctions instigated with regard to the occupied Donbas will be the first (albeit the only for the foreseeable future) to be removed – or collapse – within the circle of western powers.


12th July saw sanctions proposals toward Russia submitted by President Poroshenko, backed National Security and Defence Council, and after due consideration by the appropriate Verkhovna Rada committee recommending the proposals be supported head to the parliamentary legislative floor – and fail to make the parliamentary agenda – twice.

The first Verkhovna Rada vote managed to attract 209 votes in favour.  The second, 215.  Neither vote coming anywhere near close to the 226 minimum requirement to put the matter upon the Verkhovna Rada agenda – let alone actually vote upon the substance of the Bill.

If the national politicians expect the Foreign Ministry and its civil servants within embassies and consuls located in currently sanctioning nations to have any hope of playing their part most effectively in international sanctions continence, then it is surely incumbent upon domestic parliamentarians to at the very least put this Bill on sanctions upon the debating and voting agenda of the Verkhovna Rada when it was submitted – whether they subsequently adopt it, amend it, or ultimately reject it in any vote to adopt it as legislation.

Perceptions and framing matter, thus it is a policy area that Ukraine simply has to be seen to lead and remain steadfast over to remain credible within other capitols.  To simply fail to put this Bill upon the national legislative agenda when at war with Russia, and simultaneously lobbying western capitols to maintain sanctions, is a matter that will have to be corrected – swiftly.


A new Cabinet, old problems, and no political room – Ukraine

April 14, 2016

Some days ago an entry appeared regarding Arseney Yatseniuk’s expected, indeed scripted, resignation.

On 7th April the blog received confirmation from those same people behind the Odessa curtain that Prime Minister Yatseniuk would resign (officially) on 12th April.  He has now announced that intention.

Absolutely no surprise to quite a few, for it has been a fairly poorly kept secret.

For those pondering his replacement, it will be the current Verkhovna Rada Speaker and President Poroshenko prodigy, Volodymyr Groisman – 100%.  It has been his future role for at least the past 3 weeks, despite any rumours surrounding Natalie Jaresko.

For those that do not closely follow Ukrainian politics, effectively Ms Jaresko ruled herself out when stating she would only lead a technocratic government – for there will be snowballs in hell before a purely technocratic government leads Ukraine.

Ergo between the lines that statement not only ruled herself out of the PM race, but also makes it particularly difficult to continue as Finance Minister in a Cabinet of Ministers that is anything other than technocratic.  If she would only lead a technocratic government, why would she remain part of a government that clearly will not be?  The Ivy League lecture circuit awaits perhaps?

Indeed the composition of the new Cabinet of Ministers is also known – at least to this blog (and probably quite a few others – barring last minute changes that could derail the whole thing of course).  Unfortunately readers will have to wait for its official unveiling, or leaking elsewhere, for that composition was conveyed in the strictest of confidences.

Nevertheless, almost all was settled by 7th April – settled other than the issue of sorting out money among the odious shenanigans behind the curtain that is.  That issue is now almost entirely settled too.  Hence Prime Minister Yatseniuk announcing his resignation per the Grey Cardinal script(ure).

It would appear that the men behind the Odessa curtain did not have a wasted stay in Kyiv.  Few of the appointments they told this blog of on 7th April proved to be wrong – albeit clearly some last minute shuffling and Grey Cardinal deal making of the same names to different Cabinet seats occurred in mitigation on their behalf.

For the record, this is what they stated had been agreed on 7th April – (Red highlights what proved to be ultimately erroneous):

Prime Minister – Volodymyr Groisman.

First Deputy Prime Minister – Vitaly Kovalchuk – Stepan Kubiv

Vice Prime Minister EU Integration – Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze

Vice Prime Minister Humanitarian Affairs – Pavlo Rozenko – Vyacheslav Kyrylenko (Half wrong see next)

Vice Prime Minister Social Policy Pavlo Rozenko

Vice Prime Minister Emergencies & Development – Volodymyr Kistion

Verkhovna Rada Speaker – Andriy Paraby

Vice Speaker – Irina Geraschenko

Minister of Cabinet of Ministers – Alexander Sayenko

Minister of Finance – Alexander Danyluk

Minister of Social Policy – Andrey Reva (He was pegged as Health Minister)

Minister of Ecology – Max Nefedov – Ostap Semerak

Minister of Education & Science – Liliya Grynevych

Minister of Agriculture – Taras Kutovyi

Minister of Infrastructure – Volodymyr Omelyan

Minister of Energy – Ihor Nasalyk

Minister for Occupied Donbas – Volodymyr Kistion (Became VPM Emergenices & Dev) – Vadym Chernysh

Minister of Culture – Evgene Nyshcuk

Minister of Health – Andrey Reva – Vacant?  (Mr Reva became Minister of Social Policy instead)

Minister of Economy – Yulia Kuznetsov – dual role for First Vice PM Stepan Kubiv

Vice Prime Minister for Regional Development, Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, Justice Minister, Interior Minister, Minister of Information Policy and Minister for Youth and Sports would remain unchanged – as proved to be the case.

Thus little changed from 7th April with the exception that the men behind the Odessa curtain also stated the following, which has thus far not been announced:

A further role for VPM Regional Development Gennady Zubko as Minister for Civil Service, Minister for Political & Legal Reforms Ihor Koliushko, and Yuri Lutsenko as Prosecutor General – perhaps appointments yet to come when those offices are created or laws changed to facilitate appointment?

All in all, the week that followed the list given to this blog of agreed ministerial posts did not change much either in names on chairs, nor in the direction that the new government will (try to) take.

Which way to the Grey Cardinal/High Chamberlain Robing Room?

Which way to the Grey Cardinal/High Chamberlain Robing Room?

Thus the outcome of today’s unveiling will not phase or surprise those behind the political curtain of Odessa.  It is however necessary to point out that those behind the Odessa political curtain were not asked to Kyiv to lobby or coerce in order to get certain people in  certain seats necessarily.

Owing to the fact that Odessa has no oligarch per se, and thus those behind the curtain have good and longstanding relationships with those within all parties without exception, be they in power or opposition at any given time, it is unsurprising that their “negotiating” abilities were requested and be effectively employed to insure enough votes to form a (wafer thin) majority coalition and also to then subsequently insure enough votes to appoint the chosen names to the appointed seats.

Odessa being an extremely mercantile city has long since learned not to tie its political flag to any particular party or oligarch – and those behind its political curtain and local political personalities are wise men indeed.

Nevertheless, the challenges the new Cabinet face are several, all are gargantuan, and none are new.

Putting to one side the obvious on-going war in Ukraine’s east, the new Cabinet will have to effectively deal with strengthening the structures within their ministries and also strengthening the numerous institutions of State that require being independent of political meddling – somehow.

It will have to very swiftly get Ukrainian civil society and “external supporters” of Ukraine back on side.  That will require not only the passing of qualitative reform legislation, but the enforcing of its implementation too.

It will also have to deal with rampant, feckless and unhinged populism now that The Radicals and Batkivshchyna (and Samopomich to a lesser degree) will undoubtedly noisily promulgate henceforth.

Indeed Ms Tymoshenko, who has tacitly and subliminally been electioneering for some weeks, is very likely to push to the fore a “National Salvation Front” comprised of professionals and civil society members that meet and support her populist agenda – rather than have them create an alternative, sensible agenda for Ms Tymoshenko to promote.

To be entirely blunt what the nation actually needs salvation from, is the type of populist flapdoodle that Ms Tymoshenko peddles. Ne’er has it done Ukraine any favours historically, and ne’er will it in the future.

Another danger, both to the current/new coalition and also to the designs of Ms Tymoshenko, will be Governor Saakashvili should he quit or be sacked from his post in Odessa in the immediate future.  Civil society, political activists and a large part of the national constituency are likely to gather under his banner when it is eventually raised officially upon the Ukrainian political landscape.

Thus far, so far as this blog is aware, all courting and flirtation by Ms Tymoshenko toward the Saakashvili camp has been wisely rebuffed.  Such a policy should continue.

However, there is only one way to keep Governor Saakashvili from pulling the trigger on a political party/project – and that is for Kyiv to come through and provide the support that has been thus far missing.  Whether Kyiv can now provide that support even if it wanted to (and thus far it clearly hasn’t wanted to) with a wafer thin majority coalition that relies on too many Odessa MPs votes whose vested local interests the Governor threatens, remains to be seen.

President Poroshenko is faced with the same dilemma of that once faced by the White House administration when it comes to Governor Saakashvili – to hug him too closely and perhaps burn your own fingers, or not hug him closely enough and be subjected to the chaos that will inevitably follow.

Clearly there is no political room for a reversing maneuver when it comes to the reform path if domestic and external support is to be maintained.  The lack of either spells the end for the current Verkhovna Rada and Cabinet at a minimum.

That lack of political maneuvering room also applies to any populist impulses – and as of today, any and all failures to reform at a sensible pace through qualitative legislation and its effective implementation will be laid directly at the presidential door.  A perception that will be iron-cast when President Poroshenko shoehorns Yuri Lutsenko into the role of Prosecutor General.

If all of this seems a gargantuan task, it is made all the more difficult with a coalition majority vote of 227 at the time of writing, when it requires 226 votes to pass even the most basic of statute.  To be sure of passing necessary but unpopular legislation, that vote count provides for only a single coalition parliamentarian to be absent if all others without the coalition are against.

None can be sick, or lame, or lazy, or on official visits, no touring delegations etc for any critical vote.

Gathering Constitutional Majorities (300 or more votes) will very much depend upon the constitutional amendments put forward.  There is a reasonable chance of constitutional changes regarding the judiciary.  There is far, far less chance of the “decentralisation” amendments passing whilst every the single sentence relating to the occupied Donbas remains in the text – and even without it there remain issues that do not sit comfortably for parties like Samopomich when it comes to regional “Prefects”.

Thus with regard to the new Cabinet and its composition, it is not a question of personalities – the cult of personality has to be put to the sword in Ukrainian politics sooner rather than later. It is a matter of teamwork, a matter of being able to drive and strengthen institutions, making them responsible and accountable for what they do.  A matter of doing enough to keep external and internal support “on side”, and a matter of tackling the noisy populism head on and publicly, shooting the message dead but avoiding personality politics and shooting the messenger.

There are six months provided by law that prevents a vote of no confidence in this new Cabinet or any member therein.  Is this Cabinet capable of averting such a vote six months from today when faced with the same Verkhovna Rada and vested interests behind its composition, as well as almost no political room for maneuver insofar as external supporters and internal constituency demands are concerned?


Yatseniuk resigns as Prime Minister (cue Groisman)

April 10, 2016

Entirely unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Yatseniuk announced his resignation from the post on Sunday 10th April – on cue.

As this blog tweeted last week:


On 7th April the blog received confirmation from those same people behind the Odessa curtain that Prime Minister Yatseniuk would resign (officially) on 12th April.  He has now announced that intention.


Absolutely no surprise to quite a few, for it has been a fairly poorly kept secret.

For those pondering his replacement, it will be the current Verkhovna Rada Speaker and President Poroshenko prodigy, Volodymyr Groisman – 100%.  It has been his future role for at least the past 3 weeks, despite any rumours surrounding Natalie Jaresko.

For those that do not closely follow Ukrainian politics, effectively Ms Jaresko ruled herself out when stating she would only lead a technocratic government – for there will be snowballs in hell before a purely technocratic government leads Ukraine.

Ergo between the lines that statement not only ruled herself out of the PM race, but also makes it particularly difficult to continue as Finance Minister in a Cabinet of Ministers that is anything other than technocratic.  If she would only lead a technocratic government, why would she remain part of a government that clearly will not be?  The Ivy League lecture circuit awaits perhaps?

Indeed the composition of the new Cabinet of Ministers is also known – at least to this blog (and probably quite a few others – barring last minute changes that could derail the whole thing of course).  Unfortunately readers will have to wait for its official unveiling, or leaking elsewhere, for that composition was conveyed in the strictest of confidences.

Nevertheless, almost all was settled by 7th April – settled other than the issue of sorting out money among the odious shenanigans behind the curtain that is.  That issue is now almost entirely settled too.  Hence Prime Minister Yatseniuk announcing his resignation per the Grey Cardinal script(ure).


Volodymyr Groisman will become (the second Jewish) Prime Minister of Ukraine very, very soon.  (For the sake of interest, Ukraine’s oldest serving MP Yukhym Zvyahilsky was the first Jewish PM).  He is actually very competent.  A good listener, a good negotiator and generally a fairly decent man.  His main drawback is being seen as the President’s prodigy.  That said, because of that perception, lack of reforms henceforth will clearly be laid at the presidential door, with little wiggle room to explain failure.

The new perception

The new perception

Needless to say, Mr Groisman and his new Cabinet will enjoy some Verkhovna Rada support – initially.  Ukraine will need to make the most of this support and spurt along the reform path before the dysfunctional norm returns within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.

Ms Tymoshenko is clearly already in electioneering mode and will not hold off with her populist political flapdoodle for very long.  Nevertheless, she will tone down the rhetoric briefly for the sake of political appearances.

Assuredly Prime Minister Groisman and Cabinet will have a minimum of 6 months before they can face a vote of no confidence.  His Cabinet may last 12 months – seeing Ukraine through to the other side of the Brexit referendum, US elections, and perhaps it may last long enough to get beyond ballots in Germany and France too.  If so that would be a good result.  However, it seems very unlikely that his time as PM or the new Cabinet will last until the end of this full parliamentary term.

Ergo, it is hoped that there are clear priorities for what will be a limited window of reformist opportunity.  Undoubtedly Prime Minster Groisman (when he takes office), his new Cabinet (when announced) the new (slim) majority coalition, and “external supporters” of Ukraine have priorities that align fairly well – if not exactly.

Mr Groisman’s challenge is to get civil society back on board, continue a good relationship with “external supporters”, and get as much reform accomplished as is practicable (and sensible) within 12 months (if he, his Cabinet and a new coalition lasts that long).

There will probably be a fair bit of “good news” emitting from Ukraine after several weeks of “bad news” in the immediate months ahead.  The road will however remain long, winding and bumpy.  There will still be backward steps occasionally.  Early elections still remain highly likely at the time of writing.  Nevertheless, progress there will (once again) be.

All eyes will now be upon who is in the new Cabinet of Ministers (expect those of this blog for reasons stated above).

The appointment that this blog is looking at is that of the next Prosecutor General, for reform within the PGO in parallel to PM Groisman and a new Cabinet moving things along, may just prolong the lifespan of both and mitigate against early elections.

The question is whether President Poroshenko will nominate a Prosecutor General that will serve both the public and assist his prodigy as Prime Minister – rather than another chained, loyal, Presidential dog.

(As for Arseney Yatseniuk, having been allowed to leave head held high, he can rehabilitate and reinvent himself concentrating on policy without having to defend vested interests.  A squeeze on Kolomoisky and Akhmetov to follow?)


Shokin’s final reform sabotage, or Poroshenko’s plan? – Sakvarelidze sacked

March 29, 2016

A few weeks ago an entry appeared outlining the rapid and aggressive cohesion of the Odessa “Old Guard” around a plan to weaken and hopefully remove Governor Saakashvili before or upon his first anniversary as Governor on 15th May.  That entry underlined by a subsequent entry reaffirming its on-going execution by the plotters.

It forewarned that those around the Governor would be targeted by such forces, perceiving them to be far easier to depose off than the Governor himself in the immediate term.  “It is also clear that a slow burning scandal within the police in Iliychovsk/Chernamorsk may well be, or may be manipulated to be, a public death by 1000 cuts for Giorgi Lortkipanidze the Oblast Police Chief (who is beyond doubt the most transparent and public spirited Police Chief in the modern history of the Oblast).  Further there is likely to be an increased campaign against Davit Sakvarelidze the Odessa Prosecutor launched soon over the lack of successful prosecutions in the Oblast (despite no reform of the corrupt judiciary, and with “lustration” of the local judiciary simply not occurring – which puts any prosecutor at a disadvantage).

The plan to remove Governor Saakashvili by certain political forces/actors clearly includes trying to remove those around him and further frustrate any efforts at confronting vested interests before the “1 year and what has he achieved campaign?” reaches a crescendo.   The thinking is that if either Mr Lortkipanidze or Sakvarelidze be toppled, Misha will throw in the towel in an tantrum claiming “impossibility of progress” under such onerous and nefarious conditions.

How well such a plan will work against what are two of the most unsullied civil servants the Oblast has ever had remains to be seen – but such a plot there certainly is.

This notwithstanding the public trashing of the “Odessa Customs experiment” (and by extension Yulia Marushevska’s efforts) publicly in Kyiv.”

Since those entries were published, the “Old Guard” (infamous MPs from Odessa Messrs Pressman, Kivalov, Golubov and Bavinenko et al., together with some of the Kivalov educated and controlled prosecutors from Odessa), wrote to the reform obstructing Prosecutor General seeking the dismissal of Davit Sakvarelidze – as the above quote predicted.


The writing on the wall therefore expectant of his imminent dismissal – particularly following several of Mr Sakvarelidze’s reformist prosecutor colleagues in Odessa being sacked by the Prosecutor General on 24th March.

Mr Shokin, due to have his resignation accepted by the Verkhovna Rada sometime in the afternoon of 29th March, promptly sacked Deputy Prosecutor General and Odessa Regional Prosecutor Davit Sakvarelidze in the morning – as a final act against the genuine reformers within the Prosecutor General’s Office.

sack 1

sack 2

sack 3

sack 4

sack 5

A reader may perhaps ponder how the newly “retired” Mr Shokin will receive thanks from these MPs from Odessa (and elsewhere), who will no doubt benefit from investigations into their alleged nefarious dealings and business interests (and those associated with them) mysteriously stopping, losing critical evidence from the file, or those investigations now generally suffering from lack of momentum.

A reader may also ponder just how any “guilty” verdict would ever have been handed down should any cases against such individuals and their interests ever reaching an Odessa court manifest, when for the past 15 years or so Mr Kivalov has run the establishments training prosecutors and judges.

(The last time anything associated with Mr Kivalov saw the inside of a court room, the case against him was dismissed by Judge Yaroslava Volodimirivna Balan – who happens to be an Associate Professor (since 2006) at the Odessa Law Academy that Mr Kivalov runs – a blatant conflict of interests for the Judge.)

Ergo the chances of a reformist Regional Prosecutor like Davit Sakvarelidze ever landing a successful prosecution against any of these MPs or their interests in Odessa were precisely zero.  He did however, make life uncomfortable for these entrenched interests nevertheless.  Whilst major successful prosecutions were absent, numerous cases were opened and evidence was gathered.  The ability to simply have cases closed, stalled or never opened, became somewhat more difficult to arrange for the nefarious.

In short the intangible effects of his presence far outweighed the tangible ones within the Odessa prosecutor establishment.  His prevention of skulduggery in the complete absence of the ability to cure, and deterrence rather than successful prosecutions should not be overlooked – albeit impossible to accurately measure those effects.

His presence also offered some degree of support and protection not only to Governor Saakashvili and his agenda, but also to Oblast Police Chief Lortkipanidze and Odessa Port Customs Head, Yulia Marushevska – notwithstanding the local constituency long accustomed to being ignored.

The question is who will next be targeted for a fall among the Governor’s team?

Ms Marushevska is already clearly being pressured by the old entrenched personalities, as well as the nefarious among the SBU and SFS that have always benefited from the very lucrative and nefarious scams that historically defined the Odessa ports – and thus looks favourite.  The slow burning scandal in Illichivsk/Chernomorsk policing seems more difficult to depose Mr Lortkipanidze swiftly enough to crescendo with the Governor’s 1 year anniversary in post.

Stepping back from the local picture, for it is important not to look at the minutia and miss the big picture and the clear messages being sent,  it is notable that Vitaly Kasko, another former reformist Deputy Prosecutor General who recently resigned due to Mr Shokin, has had his apartment in Kyiv arrested in another final act by Mr Shokin – the day prior to his sacking of Davit Sakvarelidze.  Revenge, Mr Kasko claims, for his public accusations against Mr Shokin when both worked at the very top of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

This not withstanding the opening of investigations into anti-corruption NGOs on 25th March by the PGO.

Further in a last act of “reform”,  Mr Shokin as Prosecutor General, has reformed the institutional reform he was so against, to complicate and perhaps permanently sabotage what will be a litmus test case known as the “Diamond Prosecutors”.

Though President Poroshenko claims that he had no knowledge, and had not agreed, any of the aforementioned actions by Mr Shokin (albeit officially he has no control over the hiring and firing by whomever is sitting Prosecutor General), it is a claim that is extremely difficult to believe considering the very obvious diplomatic repercussions these parting acts by Mr Shokin will undoubtedly have.

A reader may seriously ponder whether Mr Shokin’s final anti-reform functions are designed to deliberately stop, or seriously reduce, the flow of “western money” being spent on reforming the Prosecutor General’s Office.  No money equals no reform.  Limited finance equals limited reform.  An outcome the “old guard” vested interests will happily accept.

A reader may also look to the domestic political/institutional chess board from the President’s perspective (a man who has clearly reached his reformist limitations).  A “King” of the anti-reformist establishment has been toppled – but at the expense of two radical reformist “knights” within the same institution.  Thus two extremes have cancelled each other out within the Prosecutor General’s Office.  The slow moving (in fact glacial) middle ground remains allowing for dilatory, yet when pushed by “supporters of Ukraine”, not particularly uncomfortable reform to occur.

It is a set of domestic chess moves that will probably become something of a pattern in other institutions under this president.

Undoubtedly Governor Saakashvili will have no choice but to call publicly upon President Poroshenko to address the matter, having previously pretended not to acknowledge the complete absence of presidential support as he and those around him have been steadily undermined.

It seems highly unlikely that such presidential support will be forthcoming having engineered the removal of both the extremes of anti and radical reform within the PGO.  The outcome will entirely suit a President that has reached his limitations as his next appointment as Prosecutor General will probably confirm –  the most obvious candidates being Zhebrivskyi, Lutsenko, Sevost’yanov, Gorbatyuka, Sevruk and Stolyarchuk –  although Misha Saakashvili does meet the requirements to become the next Prosecutor General……and stranger and equally unforeseen things have happened.

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