Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

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Moldavian meetings

January 5, 2017

For the first time since 2008, a President of Moldova, Igor Dodon met with a “President of Transnistria” Vadim Krasnoselsky.

Whether it proves to be anything more than a symbolic gesture by pro-Kremlin Moldavian President Dodon remains to be seen, for his powers as president are extremely limited (which is perhaps a good thing being a robust supporter of federalising Moldova).

Moldova is a parliamentary democracy with the President having very little sway over policy or legislation.  (As such the Moldavian parliamentary elections of 2018 matter far more than the recent election of Mr Dodon as President of Moldova.)

What was known to be discussed appears to have been all rather sensible – and occurred outside of the longstanding 5+2 format which may or may not further frustrate an already frustrated process.  Nevertheless issues such as agriculture in the Dubasari district, education and diplomas, and the movement of citizens across the Dniester river were discussed.

It is said they will meet again soon with proposal to solving the issues discussed and to set timelines to implement agreed solutions.

Time, as it always does, will tell when it comes to results, particularly as President Dodon would have to have the Moldavian parliament “on side” to actually deliver much (if anything).

With regards to meetings, and perhaps worthy of note for those in Kyiv, on 26th December, 3 days after Mr Dodon’s election as president, the odious and criminal Mykola Skoryk MP (Oppo Block) quietly visited Moldova attending a Party of Socialists event to celebrate Mr Dodon’s success.

psrm

President Dodon had been a long serving Chairman of the Party of Socialists after leaving the Communist Party.  Needless to say the Party of Socialists is a robustly Russophile political entity.

That the obnoxious Mykola Skoryk would surround himself with russophiles is in keeping with his personal views (as inferred in the above link).  As regular readers will note however, it is not his russophile views that make Mykola Skoryk obnoxious.  Quite simply there is nothing about his political history, business activities, or egocentric personality that make him likable – russophile or not.

Time will tell whether Prosecutor General Lutsenko will actually get around to trying to strip Mykola Skoryk of his parliamentary immunity and prosecute him as he stated he would in September – but as yet hasn’t.  Perhaps he has forgotten, perhaps he opened his mouth before gathering sufficient evidence, or perhaps a grubby deal has been struck that he won’t now go after Mr Skoryk.  Neither Messrs Lutsenko or Skoryk have been adverse to grubby (and criminal) little deals throughout their political careers.

The question however is what was Mykola Skoryk doing at a Party of Socialists gathering for, and with, the newly invested President Dodon?  A shared russophilia is unlikely to be the answer in and of itself.  There will be more to it.

Perhaps it is a matter of insuring any cross-border “business” is not interrupted under a new presidency.  Perhaps there are now opportunities to expand “business”.  Maybe an arrangement made for an immediate “bolt hole” from Odessa should Prosecutor General Lutsenko actually put action where his rhetoric already exists.  Per chance some plotting and scheming regarding stirring up matters in “Bessarabia” occurred – as one domestic result of a Trump victory in the USA will probably be an emboldened pro-Russian political voice within Ukraine from those that have generally kept a low profile over the past 2 years – those like Mykola Skoryk.

Whatever the case, Mykola Skoryk did not become the first Ukrainian MP to personally congratulate Mr Dodon on his election simply because of a shared russophilia and as Odessa shares a border with Moldova he thought he’d “drop by”.  He is hardly otherwise a regular face at the Party of Socialists gatherings.

That Mr Skoryk has said very little about his trip probably means that more questions should be asked.

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Civil Service reform – 12 months later, sabotage?

December 27, 2016

One year ago, the blog lauded the passing into statute of a new civil service law, a law that addressed two significant historical issues – “…..the Ukrainian civil service has frequently appeared as a source of disillusionment and frustration.  The reasons for this have been many, but primarily relate to two distinct causes – the first legislatively, and the second functionally (as has oft been stated here…..”.

That entry however contained a caveat – “It now falls to civil society and the diplomatic corps to defend this law from politically sabotaging “amendments”, but it also now falls of the Europeans that stated they would fund the civil service reform to do so effectively not only financially, but with no small amount of leadership and determination when it comes to making the law work as it is intended.”

So where are we at 1 year later?

This entry will not concentrate upon the usual failures associated with Ukrainian policy, be that policy good, bad, or counterproductive – the usual failures of implementation.

It is sufficient to say that implementation is at the very least problematic, and also that the processes employed to deliver results/civil service appointments have been far from transparent nor the standards consistent when carrying out the basic legislative requirements of civil service appointment.

(Let us not dare speak of the seamless functioning of an effective national nervous system – which any civil service actually is.)

Shoddy, less than transparent and inconsistent implementation and internal processes aside, that such really rather good legislation has survived 12 months without sabotage is in itself worthy of note.  Those hardened souls that have several times had to scramble to man the ramparts to beat back attempts at sabotaging this statute have managed to do so – thus far.

Those battlements will have to be robustly manned once again in 2017, for sabotage is once more at the gates.

MP Artur Gerasimov has submitted Draft Bill 4370-1 which would effectively destroy much of the right-minded text within the current statute.  His proposed amendments would critically undermine the a-political and professional civil service the current legislation provides statutory framework for.

Not good when institutional independence, structure and processes have to be robust enough to repel political shenanigans if Ukraine is to move forward with a fully functioning State nervous system.

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Who then (and perhaps what) is Artur Gerasimov, that would seek to undo one of the very few laws of real quality that the Verkhonvna Rada has managed to pass (and that came into effect from 1st May 2016)?

Mr Gerasimov is a parliamentarian from the presidential party.  Indeed he is a recognised “presidential representative” within the Verkhovna Rada.  Ergo that the President is unaware of Draft Law 4370-1 being submitted by his Verkhovna Rada envoy is somewhat unlikely.  The question is whether Mr Gerasimov submits it (deniably) on behalf of The Bankova and by extension President Poroshenko – or not.

If not, then who does he submit such a toxic Draft Bill for?

Without providing an unnecessary curriculum vitae and full personal history, a brief outline of the last few years is sufficient to paint a picture of this legislative assassin.

Skimming over his various scandals mostly contained within the Donbas, it is sufficient to state that he is closely associated with Sergei Shakhov a dubious “businessman” (read organised crime) from Luhansk.  Mr Shakhov in turn is closely associated with former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, part of “The Family” that formed the elite of the former Yanukovych regime.

Indeed Mr Gerasimov stood for election to the Verkhovna Rada in a single mandate seat ably supported by the shadowy team of Sergei Shakhov.  Part of that team was Igor Bezler and his organised thuggery – yes the Igor Bezler of Donbas warlord and “separatist” infamy.  That is not to imply Mr Gerasimov has any (overt) separatist tendencies.  Mr Bezler’s participation in the election campaign of Artur Gerasimov clearly occurred long before the current events within the Donbas.  Nevertheless Mr Bezler and team were employed for the purposes of intimidation and voter bribery.

The outcome however was that Mr Gerasimov came second in the single mandate vote for his constituency and therefore did not reach the Verkhovna Rada (and lobby for/defend the interests of Mr Shakhov and others in his orbit).

During that failed 2012 election campaign, Mr Gerasimov did not hide the fact that he was in the orbit of Petro Poroshenko.

A reader will not be surprised therefore that Mr Gerasimov eventually made it to the Verkhovna Rada in 2014, not by winning a single mandate seat, but via the plain sailing of proportional representation and the party list of President Poroshenko’s party.

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Indeed it appears Mr Gerasimov and President Poroshenko go way back – although specifically how and why remains somewhat opaque.  Nevertheless as President Poroshenko puts loyalty ahead of ability, for him to tap Mr Gerasimov as the presidential representative within the Verkhovna Rada in May 2016, there is some form of personal bond and/or understanding.

Whatever the case, unsubstantiated rumour has it that Mr Gerasimov was selling candidacy for single mandate seats, as well as for local governance, for the presidential party during the elections having been given a party list spot and the Donetsk region to “administer” for the presidential party electioneering.  (Maxim Efimov is apparently one such successful buyer and two stories broke in local media in two locations by candidates allegedly wronged.)

Also closely associated with Mr Gerasimov is MP Oleg Nedavoy.  Mr Nedavoy is inextricably and undeniably linked to the wanted and much loathed Yuri Ivanyushchenko, a close ally of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

There is perhaps no need to continue and sufficient has been written for a read to draw their own conclusions about the character and morality of Mr Gerasimov.

From this glossary however, it is difficult to see who benefits (the most) from Mr Gerasimov’s Draft Bill 4370-1 if not The Bankova, or those most trusted by the President to (deniably) misuse the system the “right way” – Messrs Granovsky, Kononenko and Berezenko.

If this draft Bill passes through the Verkhovna Rada then toxic executive political interference will once again legitimately sully and/or mortally wound the internal workings of the civil service.  The President will then either sign it into law if the cacophony of shrieks and screams from European “friends” and Ukrainian civil society prove not to be loud and rude enough, or he can veto it and the issue can be internally spun as a false flag for external consumption and “proof” of an unwavering trudge toward European normative.

If the Europeans and Ukrainian civil society have any sense however, the maximum efforts will be made to have this Draft Bill withdrawn, or smothered by the relevant Verkhovna Rada committee before it ever gets as far as a vote.  A large diplomatic stick should be wielded now – proactively.

Still, regular readers all knew that quality legislation would sooner or later be subjected to attempts at sabotage – it always is in Ukraine.  That’s why 1 year ago the blog warned that would be the case.

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Treading on the toes of Angels – Odessa machinations

December 26, 2016

The name Alexander Angert also know as Angel to use his mafia name, has appeared in this blog numerous times (a reader may use the search facility if particularly interested).  How could it not?  His links with Mayor Trukhanov and Alexander Zhukov (father of Daria, the current Mrs Roman Abramovich) among others of notoriety and the numerous joint and associated business enterprises that do well out of City Hall and Ukraine more broadly, demand that every now and again his name is mentioned.

Indeed Mr Angert was mentioned so often by Yuri Lutsenko when he was Minister of Interior in the Tymoshenko government it would be difficult to have seen him as anything other than a personal nemesis.  (A reader may ponder why he no longer mentions it now he is Prosecutor General).  Misha Saakashvili as Governor was also not adverse to throwing Mr Angert’s name about when it came to the organised criminality in Odessa.

Mr Angert no longer lives in Odessa – but he does visit when the situation is serious enough to demand he personal participation in a “negotiation”.  His last know place of abode (for many years) is London.  Indeed if asking the personal assistant of Mr Zhukov who also lives in London, messages can apparently reach Mr Angert through that channel.  (It seems that via this route Leonid Minin can be reached in Rome too).

The full extent of Mr Angert’s (business) interests is very difficult to gauge.  In some cases his control is “unofficial”.  Others there are clearly cut outs who are known associates.  There are overtly known long term business partners like Igor Uchitel.  There are even one or two business where Mr Angert’s name actually appears.  Thus quite where all the metaphorical and literal bodies are buried is unknown – but there are definitely both metaphorical and literal bodies buried.

Perhaps the best way to identify the assets controlled by Mr Angert are those in Odessa that were left alone by Viktor Yanukovych and “The Family” from 2010 to 2014.  Former President Yanukovych did indeed meet with Mr Angert in Odessa and whatever was said between them seemingly saved Mr Angert’s interests from the attentions of “The Family” – or perhaps saved “The Family” from a slighted and vengeful “Angel”.

angel

Of the businesses that are transparently associated with Mr Angert, one is Odessagaz.  It is co-owned by Messrs Angert and Uchitel and has been for decades.  Neither oligarchs such as Firtash or Kolomoisky and not former President Yanukovych have ever made an attempt upon Odessagaz, nor interfered as they have with other regional and national gas companies.

Clearly tangling with those behind Odessagaz was not worth the blood and treasure – even for such odious, nefarious and powerful men.

Any regular reader is well aware of the frequent mention of the business appetites (by hook but mostly crook) of Igor Kononenko, President Poroshenko’s long term friend, occasional business partner and parliamentary “leg breaker”.  He is, to be blunt, as bad as they come when it comes to scams, schemes, and coercion.  His current appetites and methodology as to feeding them have hardly gone unnoticed – neither has the completely absent desire of President Poroshenko to rein them in.

It would appear however that Mr Kononenko is about to go not only where angels and oligarchs fear to tread, but indeed is about to stand on Angel’s toes.

Mr Angert, or more precisely Odessagaz, for many, many years has been trying to bring about the insolvency of Odessa CHP (thermal power plant).  Bankruptcy petitions have been made and various internal nefarious financial acts have been “encouraged” of the employees within Odessa CHP by Odessagaz (Mr Angert).  The net result was to engineer the bankruptcy of Odessa CHP beholding of large debts to Odessagaz who would then take Odessa CHP as debt settlement.

Recently however, that plan has quickly been undone via the purchasing of a significant quantity of Odessa CHP debts by Energomerezha.  This company is controlled by the brothers Surkis who are in turn puppets of Igor Kononenko.  In buying up those debts Energomerezha has therefore taken control of Odessa CHP financials that can either prevent Odessa CHP bankruptcy or assume the role of leading creditor thus undoing the plans of Odessagaz (Mr Angert).

In short when Energomerezha decides to allow Odessa CHP to go bankrupt at a time of its chosing it would be the largest creditor with a claim to taking control of the asset as settlement.  Thus that can be expected when all the ducks are lined up to insure the loser would be Odessagaz – and by extension Mr Angert.

(In the meantime as usual there is a scam whereby an agreement has been reached between Odessa CHP and Energomerezha that enables Energomerezha (read the brothers Surkis and Igor Kononenko) to clear UAH 1000 in profit for every thousand cubic meters of gas).

Quite how this situation will play out remains to be seen when even the appetites of Yanukovych, Kolomoisky and Firtash left the machinations of Angel well alone in Odessa.

Perhaps Messrs Kononenko and Angert will come to an agreement amicably.

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Or perhaps there will be made an offer than cannot be refused.

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A Granovsky false flag in defence of Kononenko?

December 17, 2016

The name of Ihor Kononenko has appeared fairly frequently in the blog – usually annotated with “President Poroshenko’s leg breaker in the Verhovna Rada” or “the mere mention of his name has diplomats eyes rolling” or “to whom the presidential leash should be applied”.

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To be absolutely blunt, Mr Kononenko is an old and loyal friend of President Poroshenko and is being allowed to run amok with all the worst possible parallels to the Yanukovych regime approach to business and state owned enterprises, whilst also acting as parliamentary enforcer for the president.

Certain readers known to this blog have first hand experience of Mr Kononenko.  To be charitable he is a predator.  To be less so, he can go beyond “dubious” and “nefarious” when it comes to the boundaries of the law.

There is no doubt that President Poroshenko is aware of at least some of the deeds of his friend – even if he doesn’t read the media (and he is probably the most PR aware Ukrainian president ever) there is no way some deeds will not have been raised directly by the diplomatic community with the president on occasion.

Sooner or later, should the presidential leash not be placed upon Mr Kononenko and thus his appetites somewhat reduced, a reader may foresee a situation similar to that of Viktor Shokin whereby the international pressure from “friends of Ukraine” will continue to build surrounding him to the point of ultimatums.

Also occasionally mentioned by the blog is Alexander Granovsky usually annotated with “rising star in Kyiv” or “whose political star is in the ascendancy” (or similar).

Although from Uman originally, Mr Granovsky since his (Mechnikov) university days in Odessa, has been a permanent business/public persona in the city – perhaps best known for his activities with business partner from Boris Kaufman (also from Odessa).  That said both also have business interests that do not involve the other.

Mr Granovsky’s business history is as a reader would expect – he had owned more than a dozen companies between 1997 and 2006 (which could be, but won’t be listed here), almost all with “colourful” reputations or occasional scandals.  Some have since been sold, some have been retained, and new enterprises continue to appear.  Suffice to say those interests cover everything from port dredging, to banking, to fertilizer, to hotels, to airports, media, alcohol, tobacco, and more.

Mr Granovsky is also a man inclined to be generous with the synagogue in Odessa being a major beneficiary.

Regardless of interesting histories (worthy of entries of their own) both Mr Granovsky and Mr Kononenko are Block Poroshenko parliamentarians will significant gravitas within both the party, faction and the parliament itself – albeit with different and distinct roles in controlling events.

The past few days have seen some interesting entries on Mr Granovsky’s Facebook. – a photograph of a text conversation on Telegram was uploaded.

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A conversation prime facie appealing to Mr Granovsky for help to fend off the unwanted attentions of the predatory Ihor Kononenko.

“Хочу обратиться ко всем симпатикам моего коллеги по залу Игоря Кононенко, чтоб сообщить о том, что лично он, обращаясь ко мне в мессенджере телеграмм, пытается втянуть меня в преступный сговор с не до конца попятной для меня целью. Что-то мне подсказывает, что дело не чистое.
Доказательство ниже.

P.S.
Конечно же, какой-то “озорник” таким образом пытается выманить деньги. Половина фракции тоже получила подобные сообщения. Примитивно, но в каких-то случаях эффективно:(((“

Mr Granovsky accompanied that photograph with a statement appealing to his parliamentary colleagues to give Mr Kononenko a sympathetic audience, for he suspected intrigue of a nefarious kind, stating that half of the Poroshenko faction had received similar texts attempting to obtain money.  His post insinuated that some had indeed complied, paying off an unknown party.

It is without a shadow of a doubt that Mr Granovsky has the telephone number of Mr Kononenko and can authenticate (or not)  the demands for money.  Such faux intuition of intrigue and public (Facebook) disclosure is quite unnecessary for a man capable of getting immediate responses from Mr Kononenko.

arrest

“Короткий апдейт на тему хулигана, который прикрывался именем Игоря Кононенко с целью выманить деньги у коллег по фракции и не только.

Следующие несколько лет, судя по всему, он будет шлифовать свои навыки в 4 стенах. Отдельное спасибо сотрудникам спецподразделения “Альфа” СБУ.”

On 17th December, a few days after setting the scene on Facebook, Mr Granovsky via Facebook once more, gave public thanks to a SBU Alfa Unit for arresting somebody – (as yet unidentified and as of the time of writing the detention has not been confirmed by the SBU) – using Ihor Kononenko’s name to extort money from his parliamentary colleagues.

Naturally questions arise.

Firstly just how subservient to and/or scared of Ihor Kononenko are his parliamentary colleagues to have simply paid this unknown offender acting under Mr Kononenko’s name apparently without his knowledge?

As always, the questions have to be asked as to who benefits, and why are things being done this way?

In publicly announcing this affair on Facebook, does Mr Granovsky do more or less harm to the “parliamentary leg breaker” and predatory image that Ihor Kononeko already has among his parliamentary colleagues and the business community?

Although probably not the case, if designed to do more damage, what motivates Mr Granovsky to make such a bold move?  Why now?

If designed to mitigate Mr Kononenko’s image, is this a false flag incident created to deflect some near horizon allegations against Mr Kononenko insofar as it will be held up as evidence that his name is misused and/or spuriously attacked over events he will claim he has no involvement in (whether he does or not)?

If it be the latter and this is a preparatory false flag, what scandal is upon the immediate Kononeko horizon that requires such theatre?

It is of course possible that Mr Granovsky thinks it is simply a fun story that people should know about – but Mr Granovsky is a clever man and is simply not that oblivious to the perceptions and the questions that arise by making this affair public.

Something about this just doesn’t seem right.  Perhaps all will become clearer fairly soon.

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A hiatus or a halt to organised criminality in Zatoka?

December 10, 2016

Over the past 12 months, several times has the blog mentioned the organised criminality running amok in Zatoka, Odessa.

Everything from voter fraud on a large scale, to criminal land deals, conspiracy to murder, arson, grievous assaults, forgery, and protection rackets have managed to get a mention due to the complete absence of the rule of law.

As previously explained, that complete absence of the rule of law was due to the fact that all constituent parts of the rule of law were actively engaged in the organised criminality – “For those wishing to acquire occupation of much sought after beach-side territory and/or property at the expense of the longstanding legitimate leaseholders, the following outlines the bureaucratic illegalities/standard criminal schemes.

Those with nefarious intent with the assistance and collusion of the local prosecutors create concocted and imaginary events and incidents that in some way manage to breach a technicality in the lease.  Those with nefarious intent can either do so directly with the local prosecutors, or by first approaching the Belgorod-Dneister court who then contact the local prosecutors with instructions to create and/or find a technicality that can eventually be ruled as being a breach of lease by the Belogorod-Dneister court.

The subsequent court ruling then allows the nefarious interests to bribe, coerce or act in cahoots with the  Zatoka Village Council to cancel the existing lease and issue a new lease to the new and distinctly criminal tenants.

At some point a few years into the lease those then holding the lease will buy the territory and all properties thereon relatively cheaply from the local Village Council – even after accounting for the bribes necessarily involved.

Naturally there is no possible recourse for the legitimate tenants through the local prosecutors, local courts, or Village Council – all of whom are involved.”

All such information was hardly secret – at least it could be easily obtained for those that wanted to lift the stone and see what horrors lurked beneath.  Such is the depth of organised criminality in Zatoka the last blog entry concluded – “If the regional rule of law institutions cannot (for whatever reason) implement the rule of law swiftly, why not bring in a team from another region – Lviv or Dnipro for example – that have no connection to Odessa to investigate?  There is an audit/documented trail for this scheme to operate after all – and for each and every attempt.

Unless events in Zatoka are tackled immediately, robustly and vigorously then they are going to continue as was unfortunately predicted in the tweet above – and that will do little for public confidence with regard to the perceived sanctity of property rights under the current national leadership, let alone attempts at creating the perception of reformed governance and the institutions of State.”

It appears that the rule of law has finally arrived in what appears prima facie to be a robust and vigorous fashion.

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On 10th December, 18 months after a persistent and barely hidden issue became an acute and blatant issue, Directorate K of the SBU, the PGO and National Police descended upon Zakota conducting searches and making numerous arrests.

Considering the outline of organised criminality above, a reader will not be surprised to learn that among the arrests were local government officials, prosecutors, police, SBU and judges with 50 crimes now under investigation ranging from voter fraud to conspiracy to murder (according to Interior Minister Facebook) – indeed all criminality described above that was guaranteed to be found once the political/institutional will to look under the Zatoka rock was found.

It remains to be seen what charges will be brought and against who.

Thereafter it remains to be seen how a justice system yet to see reform convincingly manifest will actually deliver justice for those in Zatoka that have suffered increasingly blatant organised criminality for years.  They are long overdue both justice and restitution.

Just as importantly, it remains to be seen whether the rule of law will effectively fill the void created by its actions taken on 10th December – or whether organised criminality will once again fill the void it may have temporarily left if this proves to be nothing more than a hit and run by the institutions of the rule of law.

Minister Avakov would be well advised to remember that in any battle it is one thing to take the ground, but quite another to hold it.

Time will tell whether the Minister and his ministry have a plan to consolidate and defend any rule of law gain that will come as a result of their operational efforts in Zatoka of 10th December.

As of yet, the job is not even half done.

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Onishchenko – It’ll get messy

December 9, 2016

Back in July an entry appeared relating to the politics surrounding the removal of parliamentary immunity from Alexandr Onishchenko.  It outlined the grubby and disingenuous position of Yulia Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna in particular due to Mr Onishchenko being a financier of Batkivshchyna – despite his membership of a different parliamentary faction, Will of the People.

That he would be in one parliamentary faction and finance a different party is no surprise to regular readers of course.  In a political space without much in the way of discernible ideology or party loyalty, the parliamentary party a parliamentarian my be part of generally by definition means very little.

The shenanigans, dishonesty and lack of loyalty displayed within the above-linked entry were perhaps an obvious harbinger for what was to come in a far more public and international environment when “payback” was deemed to be politically expedient.

And so it comes to pass that as Ms Tymoshenko appears to have gone “all in” in an attempt to force early Verkhovna Rada elections, remove the National Bank head, and discredit President Poroshenko in a populist broadside as utility price hikes bite the electorate – and in perfect synchronicity her party financier, the now wanted Alexander Onishchsnko raises allegations of corruption and parliamentary vote buying by President Poroshenko in the UK (where Mr Onishchenko currently sits) and Ukrainian press.

There are many ways to view the motivations, legitimacy and/or accuracy and timing of Mr Onishchenko’s allegations – but what is true is that he is/was a political and business insider among the Ukrainian elite.  He is also an odious, self-serving, deceitful and nefarious individual against whom the Ukrainian State (read Ukrainian people) no doubt have cause for redress and restitution – as they do so many of the political class for exactly the same reasons (will somebody please take on Pashinsky?).

onishchenko

Further the substance of the Onishchenko allegations are hardly of a nature alien to Ukrainian politics historically.  They are therefore deemed plausible by many both within and without Ukraine.

(If true however, it would be interesting to know when votes were bought and which laws they were bought in order to pass – those serving vested interests, or the Ukrainian State in order to meet its obligations?)

This entry will (try to) stick only to what is already in the public domain and seeks not to act as judge or jury, nor test the allegations.

The upshot of the allegations reaching the UK press and their publication has resulted in lawyerly letters pinging their way around some parts of the UK media with the issue of libel the heart of the prose.  The lawyerly letters coming from the Aktins Thomson – a particularly effective legal firm with regard to media.  Journalists thus forewarned.

Akins Thomson have apparently been engaged to protect the image of Ukraine – not President Poroshenko (or any others that will continue to be named in the days and weeks ahead) – and yet a reader would perhaps ponder why such an eminent media law firm are hired over corruption allegations against President Poroshenko (not Ukraine) and yet so little money and effort appears to be spent finding a top drawer, top Dollar (and well connected Republican biased) US lobbying group for Ukraine for the Trump presidency.  (Indeed such a top drawer US lobbying firm should already be engaged and working 24/7 for the benefit of Ukraine.)

Mr Onishchenko has broadened his allegation net with regard to just who facilitates the allegedly corrupt dictates of President Poroshenko, naming Igor Kononenko (who bares an uncanny likeness to Dr Evil) as facilitator-in-chief.

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Mr Kononenko, this blog has previously labeled President Poroshenko’s “parliamentary leg-breaker” on many occasions.

Mr Kononenko is in no way different from Mr Onishchenko by way of odiousness, nefariousness, ruthlessness or political and business insider knowledge.  Indeed in private conversation with the diplomatic community or international institutions, regardless of the diplomatic home nation or which international institution, the mere mention of Igor Kononenko’s name brings about the immediate rolling of eyes, sighs, and acknowledgments of problematic influence.

Unfortunately President Poroshenko seems unwilling to tighten Mr Kononenko’s leash and thus he will continue to do far more damage to Ukraine’s reputation in diplomatic and political circles than Mr Onishechnko’s article in the UK and Ukrainian media.

Naturally President Poroshenko dismisses the accusations made – as will Igor Kononenko (and Ihor Granovsky and Sergei Berezenko who will inevitably also feature).

So the question is whether in going after Yulia Tymoshenko’s financier, was this payback was inevitable, or was some form of “universal code of silence” among the elite expected?  After all, Mykola Martynenko, financier of Arseny Yatseniuk has kept quiet since his political forced fall from grace.

It seems unlikely that the expectation of such silence would be the case, as Mr Martynenko’s party remain part of the majority coalition and he is thus not without influence even if without position.  With Will of the People seemingly set to finally implode and the jury definitely still out as to whether Ms Tymoshenko can manage to force early elections (with several other parties seeking to do the same thing) then Mr Onishchenko is in perhaps a more precarious position – particularly as claims he has taken a Russian passport have now been publicly made by the SBU.

The truthfulness of their statement is left to a reader, and one may ponder if taking the view it is true, whether it is a Plan B should Ukraine actually bother asking the UK to extradite Mr Onishchenko at some point.

Whatever the case, the SBU inference for public digestion is that Mr Onishchenko agreed to act at the very least as an agent of influence for The Kremlin in exchange for a passport and safe haven if necessary.

Perhaps.

Nevertheless, PR damage limitation is going to be difficult if Mr Onishchenko is prepared to continue to drip plausible (albeit not necessarily true/accurate) allegations within the media.

It seems unlikely that NABU (which is prepared to meet Mr Onishchenko on neutral turf (presumably London)) will be able to convince him that after giving all the evidence he has (and copies of what he is supposed to have already handed to the US) that staying quiet in order not to prejudice any investigation will gather much traction.

Thus it appears that this will get far more messy – and publicly.

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Drama (of the political sort) at the Russian Theatre Odessa

December 6, 2016

The Russki Theatre (Russian Drama Theatre) in Odessa is a longstanding and well known historical venue.

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Since 2002 it has been managed by Alyaksandr Kopaygora.

Mr Kopaygora is nothing short of a controversial figure.

To be diplomatic, his management of the Ruski Theatre is far more in keeping with his ideology than managing a premises called Ukrainian Theatre.  To be less diplomatic and somewhat more blunt and also accurate, Mr Kopaygora was a leading ideologue in Igor Markov’s “Rodina Party” in Odessa.

Mr Markov’s party was (it is now officially defunct) robustly pro-Russia.  Indeed Mr Markov is currently living in Russia and actively playing to the Russian propaganda narrative (as a reader would expect).   Mr Markov has stated he will not return to Ukraine for as long as it pursues its “European” trajectory.  (He is also wanted.)  Among that same ideological crowd is Anatoly Wasserman (a man considered by many to be far more odious than Igor Markov).  Messrs Wasserman, Markov and Kopaygora were all leading lights in Party Rodina.

The loyalty to Ukraine is therefore more than questionably thin as far as Mr Kopaygora is concerned for far too many local constituents, and perhaps nominally exists due only to the meager (official) salary he receives from the Ukrainian taxpayer via the State.

(Indeed his anti-Ukrainian activities were reported to the Ministry of Culture in 2015.  As usual when it comes to the Ministry of Culture there was no response – which is why historical architectural buildings in Odessa continue to be bastardised and/or destroyed under the management of a Luddite/Philistine Mayor of no vision, despite the Culture Ministry’s statutory obligations toward protecting many such buildings.)

The Regional State Administration (RSA) of Odessa announced a competition for Mr Kopaygora’s role as his term drew to an end.  Competition (and “competition”) for public roles is now very much en vogue – and for many public positions a matter of law.

Odessa is renowned  for many things, among which are its “intellectual set” and “arty crowd”.  As such there are numerous individuals of suitable calibre capable of managing the Russki Theatre – albeit another was lost to abysmal Ukrainian driving and/or roads only yesterday.  (RIP Dr. Yulia Gomel, composer of symphonies, ballet, chamber and choral music – undoubtedly a loss to the city and Odessa National Music Academy.)

The day the competition winner was due to be announced, 6th December, the Regional State Administration cancelled the contest for the position.

The reason being, it finally succumbed to public pressure.  The public pressure was not aimed at Mr Kopaygora directly – but at the “competition panel”, the composition of which was stuffed with associates of Mr Kopaygora and therefore clearly compromised as far as neutrality is concerned.

Whether a well placed rumour, or a genuine leak, it also became known that law enforcement agencies were quietly taking an interest in the process.  A reader may conclude that if being busted for corruption is a likely outcome, then being busted over a trifling matter of fixing the competition result for the Russki Theatre is probably not worthwhile.  The risk/reward simply isn’t there.

Ergo, 6th December instead of announcing the “competition” result (and probable continuance in the role of Mr Kopaygora), it was announced that the competition had in fact been cancelled.

In sum, a wise decision by those within the RSA.

Clearly efforts will be made to insure the next competition panel is perceived to be far less biased (at least prima facie) and if that be so then it may come to pass that the official relationship between Mr Kopaygora and the Russki Theatre that began in 2002 will ultimately faceits final curtain.

In the meantime as the festive season approaches, the show must go on.

 

 

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