Posts Tagged ‘Kyiv’

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Kyivstar suffers massive TDoS attack

August 4, 2016

Over the past few days, the Kyivstar mobile telephone operator has been somewhat inconsistent – resulting in a rather peaceful few days for the blog.

Part of the reason for this is on-going is preparatory work for 4G throughout August, as the company forewarned.  It also forewarned of work in Odessa regarding new transmission equipment in July.

TDOS

However, on 3rd August Kyivstar was subjected to what it described as a massive TDoS attack, the outcome of which left Odessa completely without Kyivstar coverage.  At the time of writing, Kyivstar has yet to mitigate the TDoS attack by redirecting, scrubbing, and blocking offending source traffic.

TDoS attacks, no differently from DDoS attacks, do not simply happen.  They require a degree of either IT sophistication or manual coordination in order to overload a system.

As there is thus far no evidence to be found on the social networks organising mass participation in such a TDoS attack, and neither does there appear to be anything within the “dark net” – other than those advertising their abilities when it comes to DDOS and TDOS (many of which advertise in Russian) – it seems far more likely to be “bot” instigated.

There seems to be free VoIP and SIP software readily available capable of facilitating TDoS.  Which programmes are currently en vogue who knows – it used to be Asterisk, but technology surpasses the retarded knowledge of the blog so easily.

TDoS attacks are not particularly new across “eastern Europe” despite not getting the same attention that DDoS attacks do.  Likewise, on the “dark side” the (Russian language) advertisments offering DDOS and TDoS services are also not new either.

The question regarding this TDoS attack however is not the how, it is a question of motive.

Is it an attack aimed at criminal outcomes?  A matter of flooding the system to the degree it becomes impossible to cope with the amount of transactions going through the system, thus allowing for all manner nefariousness?

Perhaps it is simply a malicious tech nerd testing abilities to successfully carry out a TDOS attack?

Maybe somebody with sufficient ability who has a grudge against Kyivstar?  A disgruntled former customer?

Perhaps it is competitors in the marketplace keeping the system down long enough for customers to swap service providers, or sew the seeds of doubt in the reliability of the provider sufficiently to at least consider swapping?

Is it a Kremlin inspired attack, similar to the attack earlier in the year which hacked the Ukrainian power grid?  If so to what end?  To inflict commercial losses/damage upon a major Ukrainian company?  A “psyop” – or part of one – to remind the Ukrainians of Kremlin technological capabilities?  If so, a dangerous game, for the IT realm is one of the few in which Ukraine is quite capable of matching Russia.

Is it perhaps, unlikely as it seems, simply an excuse floated by Kyivstar for a technological fumble whilst carrying out its declared works?  Perhaps, but the Kyivstar signal did not disappear on the blog telephone, thus the issues seem related to the operating system rather than transmission.

What damage to the system, if any?

Rumour from reliable sources within Odessa state that the fibre optic cables of Kyivstar were deliberately severed – explaining no service in Odessa, rather than severely restricted service in other cities due to the TDoS.

Is this therefore a deliberate and coordinated attack on Kyivstar systems and “hard” infrastructure?  Are “pre-takeover” messages being sent the old fashioned way?  It seems unlikely.

Perhaps Kyivstar is capable of tracing and identifying the source of this TDoS attack – but if it is, will it publicly attribute the attack?

Maybe this is not as interesting as it appears prima facie, simply due to the fact that DDoS often gets the headlines whilst TDoS rarely does?

Whatever the case, this is not something that happens every day – so identifying the motivation is important.

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Proposed change in abortion law – Ukraine

April 12, 2012

One of the most notable achievements of European society (for better or for worse depending upon your point of view) has been the separation of church from State during the evolution of the continent, and the resulting secular State.

For most European citizens, the Church is the Church and the State is the State  and never the twain shall meet again given the consequences historically.  No longer can the Church burn the heretics and non-believers who make up a sizable number of voters which no political party could afford to lose.

The Church remains, however, a significant social actor within most nations and is recognised and engaged with by the majority of States, be the governing party or leadership agnostic, atheist or of a different belief.  It can be, and is, a significant NGO both arguing for or against specific political policy.

Generally the secular model works fairly well and is particularly noticeable during electioneering where a candidates faith  (or lack or faith) is not a subject that features in any campaigning.  Something one suspects Mr Romney would appreciate but it unlikely to get across the Atlantic very soon.

However the Church (of whatever brand) like all organisations has its positions, interests and needs which most States will listen too and accommodate where it fits with the governing party’s own position, interests and needs.  State and Church therefore rub along together as best as they can whilst attempting to morally or politically lead the same flock.

Problems occur when the Church lobbies to create laws or to change laws which meet their position, but that large enough sections of a far less conservative society would strongly oppose to make the issue politically difficult for the State.

Ukraine currently allows abortion up until the 12th week of pregnancy and in extreme (one assumes medical emergency cases) the 22nd week of pregnancy.  That is the law.

The Orthodox Church however has been lobbying hard and has managed to get some lawmakers to submit a change to this law on abortion, proposing the practice be banned in Ukraine other than for medical emergency reasons.  It will soon come before the RADA for voting.

Now I am not interested in getting into the pro-life verses woman’s rights issues of the argument.  Everyone has their opinion  to which they are entitled.  I intend to look at this from the difficult position of the State, the current leadership of which face an election in October 2012 and are now faced with a very difficult vote (should the issue be forced to a vote in the RADA).

The current government, when it came into power, vowed to increase the population of Ukraine having recognised the national shrinking demographic.  (A continental issue not just one for Ukraine it should be noted.)  Thus banning abortions unless medically necessary would be one way to possibly achieve a jump in birth rates and some form of demographic recovery.  Vow kept.

However, the number of abortions in Ukraine has been significantly and consistently falling for the past 10 years.  In 2000 there were 434223 abortions performed in Ukraine.  In 2010 there were 176774.  With such  a steep  downward trend in society, is there any reason for State interference when it is a trend both Church and State (for different reasons) would approve of?  Whilst the trend continues, is this not a prima facie case for a State to leave well alone?

If acquiesce to the Church would get it on board in the run up to an election where the current government will struggle to retain such a sizable majority, if it hangs on to power at all (which it probably will), the Church, should it get such a legislative victory would undoubtedly sing the current governments praises and thus influence a reasonable amount of voters in the governments favour (either overtly or covertly).

At the same time, despite the fantasies propagated by marriage agencies about the “traditional values” of Ukrainian women, Ukrainian women are very emancipated and have been for a very long time.  Who if not the women, rebuilt the USSR after WWII and 30 million Soviets died, the majority being men?  The myth they sit at home and cook and pop out children on demand for the male head of the household is exactly that – a myth.

Therefore changing the law and banning abortion in all cases other than medical emergency (and any other specifically stated circumstance) could very well alienate a huge number of female voters which is a decidedly bad idea with an election looming.

There are then the casual effects to society to consider should this Church sponsored bill change the law.  Many Ukrainian women would simply travel to have the abortion done and those who could not may well resort to back-street abortions with horrendous consequences.

Those that had children may very well give them up to orphanages which are already woefully underfunded.

If they kept the children the State has such a poorly funded social welfare system that they could not afford to stay home and neither could they work, removing any tax they did pay from the system and increasing the social payment burden in the process.  That could increase numbers of child neglect cases and that, ultimately, could put increasing strains on the orphanages.

As the State cannot even make people pay their due taxes, finding and getting absent fathers to pay any form of maintenance is simply a non-starter.  Those women and children in that situation now, rarely see any money from the absent father and the State does nothing to enforce payment or track the father down.  If they could they would have far better tax revenues.

Is a generation of poor single parents and child poverty what the government sees as a sound policy when heading towards European norms?  Unlikely.

Talking of European norms, in banning abortion (other than in statutorily stated circumstance such as medical emergency) which other EU nations would it have for company?  Would the EU see such a move as a further back-sliding in human rights and womens rights in particular?

All in all a very difficult situation for policy makers to be in.

Protests about this proposed legal change have already started.  FEMEN (as you would expect) have already been arrested for climbing the bell tower of St Sophia’s in central Kyiv, ringing the bell and going topless (as is their signature protest action).  One has to suspect that should this legal change be seen to even remotely gain any traction the protests will become much larger.

Not a particularly nice thought for a sitting government with a major European tournament being hosted in 2 months time.  Massed rallies by the collective European feminati sisterhood would be a major embarrassment.

Much, one suspects, will come down to how much the current government needs to give something to the Church in the run up to the election to influence the masses favourably, or alternatively, how much can be gained by the current government to publicly and noisily putting the Church in its secular place in order to win over a large part of the female voter base by standing up for their existing rights under the current law.

One to watch in the coming months.

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Major local decisions by referendum – How generally un-European – How democratic!

March 16, 2012

Well what can you say about this?

Major local decisions to be made by referendum as a standard practice.

How very Swiss!

How very encouraging!

If it actually happens it is probably the most democratic friendly move when it comes to local governance in the history of Ukraine – ever!

Let’s hope it happens and let’s hope there is a very big local take-up so that it can be rolled out nationwide.

I am actually flabbergasted.

It’s unlikely to endear Ukraine to the EU however.  If there is one word that the leadership if the EU cringe at every time they hear it, that word is “referendum”.  In fact “referendum” is a positively distasteful word within the EU hierarchy, the mere mention of which is likely to have you removed from such circles either temporarily or permanently.

I once went to a meeting in 2009 where this concept was muted with the then Mayor of Odessa, amongst several other concepts for the development of Odessa.  The democratic concept of a referendum choosing amongst the priority projects was pooh-poohed (partially on a fiscal cost basis of the administration involved of said referendum) whilst other more business orientated concepts also suggested were forwarded for further examination.

Nevertheless, a good idea will always get trialled eventually even if not where I had hoped it would be (namely Odessa)!

Let’s hope the citizens of Kyiv seize the opportunity being offered and bring the major local decisions back to the local people they affect.

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English FA moaning about hotel prices for fans in Ukraine

March 10, 2012

Well here is an interesting dilemma.  The English FA and UEFA are moaning about hotel prices for English football fans in Kyiv and Donetsk and asking the Government of Ukraine to do something about it.

What does it have to do with the Government of Ukraine?  Does it have the ability to tell an international hotel chain like Ibis what it can and cannot charge, unless we are advocating it overtly and directly interfere with an international investor and that FDI in Ukraine.

Is it not the argument that FDI is scared away from Ukraine by governmental interference?

The same can be said for the private entrepreneurs being interfered with, whether it is their spare rooms, privately owned hotels or hostels.

Should the Ukrainian government interfere in the free market very publicly for an international tournament or shouldn’t it?

When prices rocket in London for the Olympics, will the UK Government step in regarding private businesses?  Definitely not.

If the Ukrainian government does step in, all those who say FDI is a bad idea in Ukraine because the government interferes will be wandering around saying “told you so” as will all those who claims it stifles free market economy.

What power does the Government of Ukraine have to tell Ibis or any other hotel, B&B, hostel etc (that it doesn’t own) what to charge without making a very public faux pas via interference in the free market when the free market is once again going to have its attention briefly focused on Ukraine?

The tournament is still 3 months away. Prices may come down or demand may yet go up, or both, simply through the natural forces of the market.

If the English FA wanted more English fans to come to Ukraine, maybe they should have based the English team in Ukraine rather than Poland?

Are the English FA not forgetting there is a major tournament being held in the UK at the same time and many England fans may well prefer to go to the Olympics rather than spend thousands watching England get dumped out of the tournament before even qualifying for the knockout stages?

Let the markets do what markets do and allow supply and demand to attempt to come to a balance – but do not ask the Government of Ukraine to interfere, for if they do, somewhere in the “Business Section” of the Telegraph, the Ukrainian government will be lambasted for doing exactly what the FA are asking for.

Leave it alone.  Not every issue in society requires a government to do something.  Governments already interfere in far too much because they feel they need to be seen to do something!

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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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Farewell to “Our woman in Kyiv” – Judith Gardiner

January 17, 2012

Today I am supposed to be attending the leaving function of Judith Gardiner, Deputy Head of Mission (Second in Command) of HM Embassy Kyiv.

Unfortunately due to a rather heavy cold I will not be going despite a genuine desire to be there.  Whilst numerous pharmaceutical wonders undoubtedly will mask the symptoms, being responsible for infecting all others present is not something I would wish to be remembered for.

Of course emailed apologies have been duly sent in good time to HM Ambassador and to Judith individually.

The reason for this post, aside from a public bon voyage and bonne chance with regards to Judith as I am unable to pass on such wishes in person, is also to publicly recognise the sterling service that Judith gave to me as well as recognising the lighthearted (and in good taste) emailed banter from “Our woman in Kyiv” and myself.

As far too few will say thank you for her time and effort, I can at least do so for myself in the public domain.  Manners maketh man as my Mum drilled into me.

Now I have never been one to cause a problem for our people in Kyiv.  There has been no time when I have needed to call on our Embassy in times of need having got myself into a situation whereby they have had to intervene on my behalf.  The same applied to my time in Moscow.

However, of all our Embassy staff, Judith has been the most helpful, frank and entertaining of them, both in person and by email.  It is also fair to say, now completing her second tour of duty in Ukraine, she is hardly naive when it comes to matters Ukrainian.

It is with regards to getting things done, or more accurately pointing me in the right direction to investigate matters further myself, that Judith has been extremely helpful.  I suspect her occasional assistance would not have been forthcoming from others in her position and dismissed out of hand.

Choosing my words carefully and making an empirical judgement based on my years working in the public service as an extremely small cog two very big public service machines, but in doing so coming into contact with numerous civil servants and politicians, it is fair to say she ranks very highly in my esteem.  In short Judith is a solid citizen (to use an old-school expression) with a sense of humour I can relate to.

I trust her next few years as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Bishkek will be enjoyable.  An appointment which is undoubtedly deserved and I am sure all Embassy staff in Bishkek will be relieved to know such a worthy individual is en route.  I am sure Kyrgyzstan will be a challenge (as will all Central Asia as a geopolitical region in the immediate future).

As for her replacement, Mr Martin Day, meeting him will have to be delayed as I am certain not to be forgiven for inflicting illness upon him unnecessarily.  It is rather juvenile to imagine him in Judith’s shoes, and one suspects her shoes are smaller than those of Mr Day, at least physically, however, metaphorically speaking  they will be very hard to fill.

Nevertheless, adieu, bonne chance and bon voyage Mrs Gardiner and please accept my public thanks for the assistance given to me in the past.  I am pleased your ticky box FCO appraisal was as good as it deserved to be and a suitable appointment made as a result.

(For some reason my public service appraisals always employed some very long words designed to encourage whilst keep me in my place in the scheme of things.  I don’t suppose things have changed much.)

Suffice to say I will keep my eye on the FCO appointments and the Honours Lists in future to see where you go and if you get a little enameled gong with St George and a dragon on it!

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A UK garden in The Peoples Friendship Park?

November 12, 2011

You know how sometimes little things catch you eye?

Whilst speed reading my way through the daily mountain of emails and constant twittering, at the bottom of an obscure paragraph relating to some form of musical and light displaying fountain to be created in Kyiv next year, almost as an after-thought, there was mention of the Kyiv authorities giving up plots of land to each foreign embassy within the parameters of The Peoples Park in Kyiv to create a national garden.

It is very rare I am envious of anything that happens in Kyiv.  In fact almost everybody I know, Ukrainian or foreign that has to spend any amount of time there does little but complain about the city, which is not the case for those who spend a lot of time in the other cities of Ukraine for the most part.

Anyway, I am envious on this occasion.  There are few things I really miss about the UK anymore.  The most notable and annually recalled are The Proms, The 6 Nations (rugby) and The Chelsea Flower Show.

Yes Odessa has some beautiful parks, numerous fountains (including one that operates to music with lights – sorry Kyiv, hardly original) and some very large garden centers which could pass as a small corner of the Chelsea Flower Show, but I find the thought of a UK garden next to a Japanese garden, opposite an Indian garden, adjacent to a Moroccan garden quite exotic and strangely exciting.

Of course Odessa could do the same thing with the close to 20 Consulates here, and a quite exotic mix of Consulates there are to, but it would pale into insignificance compared to what could be achieved in The Peoples Friendship Park in Kyiv should every Embassy in the capitol get on board with the idea and create a domestic floral oasis relating to their home nations.

I am more green with envy than green fingered, however what wonderful images this idea creates in the mind.

Certainly not enough to make me want to live in Kyiv, but certainly enough to make me want to visit The Peoples Friendship Park when I am next there if the idea takes root and the gardens are established.

Now, who to drop an encouraging email to within the FCO and commend this idea with suitable small words of encouragement for UK participation?  Maybe HRH Prince Charles?

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