Posts Tagged ‘diplomacy’

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What is past is prologue (Shakespeare)

January 16, 2017

With Vice President Biden bidding adieu in Kyiv having been point man for the out going US Administration, naturally official statements are a mixture of thanks and platitudes for efforts past and also words of hope for the future.

Yet the words used by both President Poroshenko and Vice President Biden at their farewell meeting are hardly the most robust and unambiguous when it comes to confirming continued US policy toward Ukraine.

“We really count on the succession by the new U.S. administration in our common work” and “hope that the Ukrainian issue will further unite the entire American political spectrum and remain among the top priorities” the oratory of President Poroshenko is hardly that of a political leader confident in the future policy of an ally.

Further, despite President Poroshenko’s “hope” it is already fact that the Ukrainian issue will not unite the entire American political spectrum insofar as where Ukrainian issues overlap with Russian issues.  The reverse is abundantly clear.  Divisions are widening within the US political arena where Ukrainian and Russian policy overlaps.

In response, VP Biden stating “I hope that the next administration will also want to be a supporter and partner in your continued progress” does little to convey anything solid either.

Yet more “hope“.

Perhaps one more forlorn “hope” is that the in-coming administration even has a Ukraine policy around which the American political spectrum can either diverge or unite – particularly when it comes to overlapping Russia issues.

What is past is prologue (Shakespeare)

Thus what has gone before may have little to offer by way of predicting, and therefore understanding, what is to come.  It may be that there is, as yet, no policy regarding Ukraine as far as the in-coming Administration is concerned, and thus policy drift and/or meandering is what awaits to be exploited by those that seize the moment.

“Hope” no matter how many times it appears in presidential prose is not a strategy.  And it is certainly not a strategy Ukraine will be wise to employ with regard the emissions of the new US Administration.

If “hope” is to play any part in Ukrainian strategy, it is perhaps better replaced with “optimism” and employed within a domestic political and policy context.  “The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, or vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not abandon it to his enemy.” (Bonhoeffer).

It may be prudent therefore to deliver some swift, sensible, domestic inspiration by way of policy!

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Ukraine begins to lobby DC – professionally

January 7, 2017

Many times it has been written that Ukraine would be wise to lobby Washington DC beyond the abilities of its own diplomatic mission and occasional delegations.

So it comes to pass, and probably due to a Trump presidency almost being upon Ukraine, the national leadership has decided to engage professional lobbyists to champion Ukraine inside “The Beltway”.

That said, whilst Ukraine as a State has taken its time to arrive at this decision, many of the Ukrainian elite have long since lobbied their own causes/interests within DC.

personal-lobbying

Ms Tymoshenko outspends all others (despite her meager income according to her e-declaration.)

The Ukrainian State has chosen to spend a seemingly meager sum of $50,000 per month having BGR Group strengthen ties between the USA and Ukraine, and further encourage US investment and/or US investors to look at Ukraine.

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Not before time, and perhaps only because of who the next US president will be, has Ukraine as a State started to spend money where many of its nefarious elites have done so for years.

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The contract would seem to last for the duration of 2017.

Although this is definitely the right policy for the Ukrainian State to engage in – indeed to belatedly engage in – a reader may ponder just what returns can be expected for $600,000 per annum when considering that Ms Tymoshenko spent more than that amount in 2014, that same amount in 2015, and would appear to have very little to show for it – unless her lobbying was intended to insure very little was publicly shown regarding her.

So, what do you get for $600,000 of lobbying inside “The Beltway” (even if leveraged with a cooperative Ukrainian Ambassador and embassy)?  BGR Group and 2017 will provide the answers!

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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.

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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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Pinchuk & the WSJ

January 1, 2017

It has to be said that Viktor Pinchuk of all the Ukrainian oligarchy has always been the most intriguing for this blog.

Firstly, compared to the others, Mr Pinchuk is actually a clever guy.  He had managed to become a multi-millionaire through his engineering creativity before marrying the daughter of former President Kuchma – and thereafter leveraging that marriage during the Kuchma epoch to move from being a multi-millionaire to a billionaire.

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His time directly (rather than indirectly) in Ukrainian political life as a parliamentarian was really rather brief and began in the same year as his marriage to former President Kuchma’s daughter in 2002 and ended with the “Orange Revolution” of 2004/5 with Mr Pinchuk having backed Viktor Yanukovych.  Despite easily being able to buy his way into any parliament, he chose not to do so.

Since then his political influence has been indirect insofar as manifesting via parliamentarians both national and local that are loyal to him.  It should also be noted that “his people” are generally far more subtle than the drones of Kolomoisky, Firtash or Akhmetov.

He also has a penchant for collecting famous friends – The Clintons, Damien Hirst, Elton John etc.

In fact, aside from feeding from the State subsidy trough and self-interest indirect political machinations, Mr Pinchuk set about rehabilitating his image through philanthropy and his own foundation from 2006 onward with very little domestic public oratory or prose.

The annual YES conference is a Pinchuk brainchild that he funds – which in 2016 notably saw Mr Pinchuk pay Donald Trump to speak at (albeit a speech lacking in clarity and not without technical problems) via a video link despite his association with (and donations to) the Clintons for many years.

Perhaps a lesser known fact was that during the “Revolution of Dignity”, Mr Pinchuk funded the provision of medical supplies to treat the injured.

Aside from a few historical legal battles, most notably with Ihor Kolomoisky over assets, Mr Pinchuk rarely features in the news – unlike many of his peer oligarchs.  There is in fact very little that can be attributed to him personally by way of public statements or on the record oratory.  Clearly a deliberate policy on his part.

It was something of a surprise therefore when an article appeared in the WSJ, authored by, or ghost written and then attributed to, Viktor Pinchuk.  The article has ruffled many Ukrainian feathers, both political and societal, being prima facie interpreted as a plan for capitulation to The Kremlin.

In a nutshell he spoke (wrote) out in favour of elections in the “DNR” and “LNR” by politely forgetting about Crimea if it meant an end to the deaths in the occupied Donbas, the abandoning of any thoughts of joining NATO and the creation of a formal understanding that Ukraine would not be joining the EU any time soon.

Now to be fair, there are those on the Crimea Committee of the Verkhovna Rada, even of patriotic leaning, that have privately told the blog that they foresee Crimea returning to Ukraine only if the Russian Federation implodes in similar fashion to that of the USSR – and if that be so then the returning of Crimea will be an issue dwarfed by the ramifications of such an implosion for Ukraine more generally.

That said, there is none on the said committee that would advocate anything other than “Crimea is Ukraine” as a domestic and international policy – quite rightly.

With regard to the EU, as previously written the Association Agreement (and DCFTA) is not an instrument that takes Ukraine into the EU.  Only the completion of the Aquis Communautaire can do that – and that is a process Ukraine has not even asked to commence.  The simplest way to view the Association Agreement is as a document that brings “European norms” to Ukraine at a speed at which Ukraine can achieve them – ie it brings “Europe” to Ukraine at a speed and in chunks that Ukraine can handle/digest.  For Ukraine to go to the EU, an entirely different thing, then it is the Aquis that is the only route – a route more demanding than anything within the Association Agreement.

Likewise, whatever Ukraine may or may not do with NATO, it is currently a long way from being at a civilian and military standard by which it could join.

In short, Ukraine is decades away from meeting the requirements of the Aquis for EU accession – if it ever applies.  It is probably about a decade away from fully meeting the civilian and military standards required for NATO entry – should it ever ask to join.

Those are the bureaucratic realities and limitations of Ukrainian reformation and their speed – notwithstanding political limitations of those that would have to agree to any Ukrainian accession.  None of this is a secret.  The respective institutions know it.  The Kremlin knows it.  Ukraine knows it.  And Mr Pinchuk knows it.

The domestic angst naturally, insofar as NATO and the EU is concerned, comes from his call for codification of such matters and the legislative boundaries they would place upon Ukraine for at best, uncertain and ill-defined “gains”.  Peace at any cost does not bring peace – it brings an armistice fated to fail at some undetermined point in the future.

Why then, has Mr Pinchuk who rarely makes public statements, decided now is the time to make such a statement and one that is guaranteed to irk the public, the political class, and paint him as a Kremlin stooge domestically and among many of Ukraine’s “friends” abroad?

Is it a reaction to witnessing fellow oligarch Dmitry Firtash exiled to Vienna, or Ihor Kolomoisky lose PrivatBank to nationalisation, or seeing all oligarchs with fingers in high energy usage industries (including Mr Pinchuk) now subject to energy pricing that sees an end to subsidies/most favoured user status?  It seems somewhat unlikely.

Will the oligarchy now find common ground for a robust fightback against the government in 2017, and this is somehow Mr Pinchuk declaring unity?  Also somewhat unlikely.

Has Mr Pinchuk simply decided that giving in to The Kremlin is the only way to undo the current deadlock?  Maybe, maybe not.

Has he been bought off or manipulated by Moscow somehow?

As the chances of any of his WSJ points being implemented are currently very slim at best, and will make him extremely unpopular at home, how does Mr Pinchuk benefit from his unusual public intervention?

All questions to be asked.

Also to be asked are why make such statements now, and why chose the WSJ to do it in?

The answer may be that the article was written and published in the WSJ specifically for one reader.  That reader being Donald Trump.

It may well be that Mr Pinchuk has little belief that what he has written will become policy and be implemented.

He may well not believe that this is the right policy either.

However, just as with voting at the UN, it is not that uncommon to see some nations prima facie voting against their own interests in order to curry favour with others – in the full knowledge that the vote will be vetoed by yet another.

Maybe it was written to defend the business interests of Mr Pinchuk in the USA?

Perhaps the end result here, considering Mr Pinchuk’s penchant for collecting “friends” like the Clintons, Damien Hirst and Elton John etc, is that Mr Pinchuk may be seeking to become the Ukrainian “name” most liked and granted most access by Donald Trump – no differently than Nigel Farage is angling to get (and may succeed) more personal interaction with Donald Trump than UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

 

If Mr Pinchuk can achieve a personal status that grants him more access to Donald Trump (and a kinder ear) than President Porosehnko simply by writing something he believes Mr Trump would read agreeably within the WSJ, then he may feel it a gamble worth taking with the repercussions among Ukrainian domestic politics a prize worth chasing.

Perhaps a lens through which to view Mr Pinchuk’s rare public prose?  Perhaps all it takes is being a billionaire, a few well chosen (if never implemented) words in the WSJ agreeable to a personality like Mr Trump and suddenly Mr Pinchuk becomes “Don’s man in Ukraine”.

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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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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.

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“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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Cultural dates for the diary – Odessa, Italy, Russia, Minsk (No Poland?)

December 15, 2016

For my erudite readers, a 24 hour hiatus from policy and politics and a climb from that grubby valley unto the high arts and cultural peaks with noteworthy and dates for the diary over the festive period.

The magnificent (seriously they really are very good) Odessa Philharmonic conducted by a true friend of the blog Mr Hobart Earle will be playing the following dates and venues:

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19th & 20th December – Tchaikovsky Christmas Gala at Odessa Philharmonic.  (20th December is Mr Earle’s birthday so be especially generous in your appreciation)

The New Year sees the Odessa Philharmonic performing 12 concerts at as many venues around Italy.

For the true connoisseur, there is no orchestra as accomplished with its Viennese programme anywhere east of Vienna, therefore expect a magnificent return to Odessa and all things Viennese on 15th and 17th January.  It goes without saying, highly recommended.

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26th January is for those with a taste for Haydin and Beethoven.

13th February is for the lovers, with the traditional Valentine’s programme.

21st February Mr Earle heads to Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall to dabble in some Grieg and Sibelius.

25th February for the many admirers of Verdi in Minsk who will receive a splendid performance of Aida.

Lo my erudite readership, if you are in Odessa, Italy, Moscow and Minsk (as many of you are if IP addresses are any indication) immerse yourselves in some high culture delivered by the Odessa Philharmonic under the baton of the only American cultural figure to have been awarded the “People’s Artist of Ukraine”.

Having made a particular point of lauding the Odessa Philharmonic with regard to all things Viennese when it comes to performance, it is worthy of pointing out that whenever it play its Polish programme, it is also at its best.

(Indeed Krzysztof Penderecki, who is undoubtedly the best Polish composer still with us (and one of the best ever) is hardly unknown to Mr Earle and vis versa.)

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Thus in the spirit of new annual culture budgets, Polish-Ukrainian relations et al., the question to intellectual Polish readers (and friends in some cases), is why the Odessa Philharmonic plays Italy, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine – but not Poland when it has a splendid, very well performed Polish repertoire?

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