Posts Tagged ‘domesitic policy’

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Another international PR disaster for Ukraine – Or is it?

May 23, 2012

In yet another international PR disaster, forgetting the domestic ones, it seems Volodymyr  Gerashchenko from the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee has been caught in a British media sting relating to the sale of Olympic tickets on the black market.

In a nutshell, he apparently agreed to sell about 100 Olympic tickets to a journalist posing as a ticket tout, although no tickets were actually sold and indeed no juicy details such as prices are mentioned in the article suggesting this story broke before it got to the stage of financial negotiations.

Anyway, on the face of it yet another international PR disaster for Ukraine, although not of the government’s making this time, that includes robust statements from British MPs and the Metropolitan Police investigating the allegations relating to a well placed, senior Ukrainian official and corrupt practices.

However, if the Ukrainian authorities move quickly and bring Mr Gerashchenko back to Ukraine with immediate effect whilst inquiries are underway in the UK, accompanied by the right diplomatic noises and statements relating to his removal pending the investigations, there maybe some mileage in it for the current authorities and their so-called fight against corruption with an international spin.

The question is, will the Ukrainian authorities do something that proactive?

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Energy privitisation continues in Ukraine

April 14, 2012

Whilst the government struggles to identify and package up parts of the infamous behemoth called Naftogaz for privatisation as recommended by the EBRD, it seems to be having little difficulty in deciding on other parts of the energy infrastructure to be privatised.

This week a law passed (with 243 votes in favour) to privatise the CHP plants around the country with a few exceptions.

It will be interesting to see how transparently these assets are sold.

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Eurovision racism from the Ukrainian far right

February 26, 2012

Readers of this blog know that once a year despite my very best efforts not to mention the deliciously awful Eurovision Song Contest, an annual farce that is watched religiously by my good lady despite year after year I predict accurately the votes from each country for another to her absolute amazement and also nominate the winner based on their national economic well-being before a song has even been sung.

However, so deliciously awful and predictable as it is, it is often scandal prone in some manner behind the scenes which forces me to comment.

Ukraine it seems is particularly prone to such things having had heated national debates over Verka Serduchka, a very funny cross-dressing male represent them and subsequently had Ukrainians singing both for Ukraine and also for Russia, to name but a few.

Is a cross-dressing male the right image for Ukraine at such an international event, should a Ukrainian be singing the Russian entry against the Ukrainian entry?  All those issues of self-image on the international stage in what it has to be  repeatedly said is a truly awful annual event.

This year has already become issue-ridden.

This year a lady called Gaitana has been chosen to represent Ukraine.  Here she is:

What could possibly be controversial about her?

Well of course immediately the far-right Svoboda party are up in arms as she is not representative of Ukraine – She is not white!

It doesn’t matter that she was born in Kyiv, has lived there all her life, is a Ukrainian citizen, or that her mother is a Ukrainian.  It matters that she is not white and therefore not representative of Ukraine it seems.  At least that is the opinion of Yuri Sirotyuk who happens to be highly placed within the Svoboda party.  In fact he stated she would get “Nul points” because of the colour of her skin.

Now I have repeatedly and robustly raised my concerns over the rise of the far-right across Europe and have specifically mentioned the poisonous Svoboda party (who happen to be signed up members of the United Democratic Opposition) regularly over the years this blog has been running.  Use the blog search facility and see for yourself.

It is not that I have a problem with the right to free speech.  Mr Sirotyuk has the right to say what he wants, especially so as he is a regional MP and represents a region that is predominantly responsible for the entire 5% of the national vote Svoboda received at the last elections.  I also do not have a problem with Svoboda praising Nazism and identifying themselves with it.  They are at least honest enough to wear the label that others would give them rather than shy away from the word.  He may well be representative of his voters in saying what he did and that is what he is there to do.

It can hardly be classed as a hate speech or be compared to the Nuremburg Rallies.

However as the above link shows, the ECfHR  has stated “… tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society. That being so, as a matter of principle it may be considered necessary in certain democratic societies to sanction or even prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance…”
(Chamber judgment Erbakan v. Turkey, no. 59405/00, § 56, 6.07.2006)

That would infer that Svoboda are not necessarily worthy of being part of the United Democratic Opposition as such comments must surely seriously undermine “…tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society…”

However, as I have said above, and as the ECfHR also states, ” the Court is also careful to make a distinction in its findings between, on the one hand, genuine and serious incitement to extremism and, on the other hand, the right of individuals (including journalists and politicians) to express their views freely and to “offend, shock or disturb” others.”

He is entitled to state his opinions and breaks no Ukrainian or ECfHR rulings in doing so.  As  a Ukrainian MP he has immunity from prosecution anyway, so there would be no chance of even challenging him under Ukrainian discriminatory laws should somebody decide to try.

However, given his comments relating to “nul points” due to her colour, I hope that she goes on to get a lot of points regardless of how good or bad she is.  For Ukrainian economic reasons I hope she doesn’t win as the expense of putting on Eurovision compared to income from it would probably lead to a loss from the national budget, but the highest place ever for a Ukrainian would seem to be an adequate response to his comments.

For this reason alone, this year I may join my good woman watching this farce and actually be willing good fortune to Ukraine and Gaitana in a purely reactionary motivation to such obnoxious comments.

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Agricultural protectionism in Ukraine

November 28, 2011

Now many economists, of which I am not one, would and do claim that the EU Single Market is fairly protectionist.  The last US Congressional hearing I watched via an Internet link had three US economists telling the panel that the US was also a very protectionist market as well.  I shall of course defer to their professional assessments although I would question the extent to which they are protectionist given the rise of globalisation and the multinational which to all intents and purposes is nation-less but penetrates these domestic markets with incredible ease.

Of course Ukraine has its own interests to protect as well and one such area is agriculture.  The moratorium preventing foreigners owning agricultural land will undoubtedly be extended (again) by the current authorities to 2013 very shortly (and no doubt again after that).  Foreigners will have to continue to lease large areas of Ukrainian agricultural land as they do now for some years to come I suspect rather than own it.

I do find a recent statement from the Ukrainian President quite interesting though.  Whilst in Sumy, he stated that the State will continue to protect the domestic agricultural producers of Ukraine.  He went on to state that he foresaw, as global accessibility grows for the Ukrainian producer/exporter, that a minimum of 15% profits for grain should be a benchmark for the sector.

Clearly the Ukrainian government is keeping a close eye on this sector of Ukrainian economic activity.

How this fits within any DCFTA agreement with the EU I am not sure.  Certainly agriculture was a particularly difficult part of the negotiations, albeit overcome now by all accounts.  To be fair, agricultural policy and the CAP is also a bone of contention within the EU itself and it is their own policy so it is hardly surprising it would have been a difficult area in any DCFTA negotiations.

Maybe this statement flies directly in the face of any DCFTA with the EU.  Not being privy to the agreed text, who am I to know?  AT the very least it would seem to be a suggestion of governmental price fixing in a free market environment.  Whether it goes against the grain with the WTO is also a relevant question, although there are so many governments within the WTO slanting the fair playing field through hidden or overt subsidies to certain sectors, overtly or covertly price fixing or dumping, it is often difficult to see any relevance the WTO has at times.

There have also been recent suggestions, from amongst others the Prime Minister, that Ukraine should consider a joint grain pool with Russia and others on the Black Sea.  These rumours began in earnest after it became clear that Russia will succeed in accession to the WTO at long last.  Are we about to see Ukraine become part of some OPEC-esque grain consortium once Russian WTO membership has been achieved?

Will the 15% profit suggested by President Yanukovych become 20% after discussions with other leaders who may well enter a regional grain pool?  How transparent will such a multinational grain pool be?  It has every possibility of becoming a feeding trough for the corrupt national leaderships.

Is further State interference in the agriculture sector a good or a bad thing?  As a producer, the power of the State behind you seeking 15% profits is no bad thing until you are accurately taxed due to increased State interest in your production.

As an international consumer, what is the profit margin you accept when buying Ukrainian grain and would you feel economically threatened by an OPEC styled grain consortium?

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