Posts Tagged ‘local government’

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The Odessa 1-Stop (Business Administration) Shop

June 29, 2015

Inevitably, unsurprisingly, and predictably – Odessa is to be the first Oblast to produce an effective, efficient,  bribe/corruption free 1 Stop Shop for business administration – or at least that is the plan.

The Minister of Justice of Ukraine Pavel Petrenko, Head of Odessa Regional State Administration Mikheil Saakashvili, Mayor of Odessa Gennady Trukhanov and Victor Lyakh of the NGO “Shidna” signing a memorandum of understanding that will create this administrative node.

The centre, however, does not open until October – This, presumably for two reasons.

The first and most obvious reason, being political.  It seems likely to be timed immediately prior to the local elections for maximum electoral and business constituency voter effect.  “Delivering upon anti-corruption, reducing bureaucracy, promoting SMEs, “decentralisation”, customer service” and all that nice vote winning rhetoric will pour forth just prior to the local elections in late October.

No wonder Mayor Trukhanov is publicly “on-side” for this collaborative effort between City and Oblast.

The second reason for the birth of this administrative node however, being legislative.

There is no room for administrative maneuvering in the provinces without the centre passing laws to provide that room.  Therefore something so simple as putting all the business administrative organs under a single roof – or at least client facing administrators from all business administrative organs – under the same roof (time will tell).  This seemingly under the watchful public eye of “Shidna” NGO, the media, business people, entrepreneurs, and others.

This administrative node requires such “decentralising” legislation to be passed.  With constitutional amendments that would allow for such “decentralisation” being somewhat glacial, and with nobody really knowing what “decentralisation” will be precisely, October would seem to be the earliest realistic date.

Should such legislation not be passed, then the institutional mandarins will remain within their fortified, obstructive and insular institutions – for no laws will exist to allow them to mingle with the other relevant institutions for business administration under the same roof, or in the same room, and heaven forbid, as part of a functioning “real time” administrative process.

1 stop

How entirely un-Soviet!  How absurdly un-Ukrainian!  Spending days, weeks and months, going from one administrative building to another, and then another, and back again, and forth again, and around in circles for a while, is traditional – and the main source of low-level corruption within the State institutions where opportunity for graft knocks with every document in every institution.

Can it really come to pass that client facing functionaries will be allowed to be the keepers of the official stamp?   Moreover, can it be that not only will they be so empowered to be the keeper of the official stamp, but also the authorised signatory?  Is that possible?  Will it not overload the capacity of a lowly functionary?  Could there even be a few such lowly client facing functionaries to allow for lunch breaks, illness and holidays?  Can institutional chiefs become managers and no longer rulers zealously guarding the official stamps and leaving all dependent upon their signature?   Too much!

Lord!  What if e-governance and e-administration allows the hoi polloi to complete documents on-line, make and attend appointments to made the process even swifter!

The electorate could get carried away and start demanding entirely reasonable processes not only within business administration, but school registration, registration at a property, ID production and all sorts of sensible things.  It may begin to have “expectations” instead of frustrations!

However, we are currently only noting the signing of a memorandum – and which, with a fair wind, may actually lead to a centralised “something” by October.  Just what that “something” will turn out to be, and just how useful, remains to be seen.

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Poroshenko in Odessa 10th April – Changes afoot

April 9, 2015

As has been mentioned far too often – because it has been far too long – Odessa has not seen a senior national politician in almost a year.

That is to change on 10th April, when President Poroshenko and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov descend upon the city, amongst other things, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the city from the German-Romanian occupiers of WWII/The Great Patriotic War.

The Interior Minister will announce the creation of a new municipal police service, a copy of that soon to begin work in Kyiv.  Thus from 20th April, competitive, transparent applications for roles in the new municipal police force will commence (without the high profile dignitaries present that attended in Kyiv for photo-ops undoubtedly).

By the 1st June, therefore, Odessa will have 3 separate police services.  It will have the National Police (including the criminal investigation, “special” units, etc.), its own newly formed and recruited Municipal Police, and the Military Police.

All jolly good.

However, as mentioned many times before, Odessa is also one of the few Oblasts that does not have “a friend of a friend” of the President as the Oblast Governor.  “Friends of friends” is an appointment theme that has featured strongly for the President – as mentioned here when commenting upon the replacement of Ihor Kolomoiski as Governor of Dnepropetrovsk a few weeks ago:

“President Poroshenko has moved swiftly to appoint an Acting-Governor in Dnepropetrovsk – he has temporarily appointed the Governor of Zaporozhye, Mr Valentin Reznichenko. However, prima facie it would appear to be little more than an act of desperation – no offence meant to Mr Reznichenko.

Mr Reznichenko has two major pluses as far as the President is concerned. The first is that Mr Reznichenko was born in Dnepropetrovsk and is therefore a local – at least by birth. No parachuting in of an otherwise “alien” Presidential loyalist required – even if few in Dnepropetrovsk will actually know who Mr Reznichenko is. That said, when other household names from Dnepropetrovsk consist of the likes of Yulia Tymoshenko or Viktor Pinchuk, choices to replace the (in)famous Igor Kolomoiski with a similar “big name” are necessarily more than a little limited, if not politically impossible.

The second plus is that Mr Raznichenko is indeed a loyalist to the President – or at least he is a loyalist to, and long term friend of, Boris Lozhkin, current head of the Presidential Administration. (However, President Poroshenko has known Mr Reznichenko for 15 years, according to the President in a statement when appointing him as Governor of Zaporozhye – “This man I’ve known for 15 years. He is strong-willed, effective leader who understands the problems of the economy.”)”

Having run out of trusted and loyal friends of his own, almost all those placed within the Presidential Administration or heading ministries, the President has been busy filling other critical posts – and the posts of Governor will become critical when “decentralisation” occurs at the year end – with “friends loyal to friends that are loyal to him – as noted above.

To a degree, a deniable power vertical – or at least a power vertical that is deliberately one step away from blatantly so.  That said, regional governors are appointed by the President, and ever has it been thus, that regional governors have been loyalists to the presidential incumbent of the day.  Perhaps more important than ever, is loyal regional governors to the President, if “decentralisation” is not to mean losing control of the nation (or parts of it) entirely.

This in turn raises questions over the proposed changes to Constitutional and electoral law that envisaged a move to elected regional governors – though it seems unlikely that this issue will be dealt with any time soon – political expediency.

Anyway, the current Odessa governor, Igor Palitsa is neither friend, nor friend of a friend, of President Poroshenko, and is therefore due to be exchanged as the slow but sure presidential maneuvering continues.

Thus, two days ago this tweet:

With all senior politicians having steered well clear of Odessa for far too long, it seems highly unlikely that the President would miss the opportunity to replace Mr Palitsa whilst here – it may be another year before he (or any other senior politician) bothers to come back, after all.

The question is therefore one of potential replacement – and the President, as ably displayed by the desperate moves in Dnepropetrovsk, has run out of “loyal friends”, and the well from which to draw “loyal friends of friends” seems also to be running dry too.  An issue further complicated by a lack of “loyal friends of friends” from Odessa.

Appointing a suitable, local, loyal “president’s man” in Odessa is therefore somewhat problematic when keeping within the current “1 person removed from the body” framework – in fact it cannot be done.

The “local man” with any degree of loyalty to President Poroshenko – or political allies – is clearly problematic.  Top of a very short list of those that tick at least some boxes would probably be Alexie Goncharenko, who ran the presidential election campaign for Poroshenko in Odessa last year.  Having been Chairman of the Regional Administration prior to becoming an MP for Block Poroshenko/Solidarity, and a long serving local deputy (for two parties and an independent), he knows very well, who’s who, what’s what and who’s doing what.  His appointment would upset to one degree or another, the local elite such as Sergei Kivalov, the current Mayor Trukhanov, and many others.

There is also the possibility of the ex-Mayor, ex-UDAR MP Eduard Gurvitz, who is currently kicking his unemployed political heels.  His appointment would be a disaster for Mayor Trukhanov, as there is much bad blood between the two men.  However, as the “Old Guard”, he is likely to accommodate the likes of Sergei Kivalov far more than current Governor Pilatsa has, or potentially, more than Mr Goncharenko would.

Does President Poroshenko owe Klitschko’s UDAR still?  If so, Gurvitz is a likely appointment.  If not, then from his own party, the ever ambitious Goncharenko is likely to provide the loyalty required for a step up upon the political ladder, but also cause large ripples within the Odessa elite’s pond.

Aside from these two, only one or two other remote and unlikely local options presenting themselves – and it is doubtful they could control the ex-Regionaires/Opposition Block MPs, the behind the curtain business elite, a nefarious Mayor that remains far too close to his mafia past (and associates), not withstanding the ability to actually force the implementation of reform policy.

Of course, 10th April may come and go with Governor Palitsa remaining in post – but as the senior politicos rarely leave Kyiv to visit the provinces, it seems unlikely that the President will miss the opportunity to personally replace the Odessa Governor whilst in the city, inserting one of his own(ish).

 

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Judicial reform Odessa? – Not today

April 4, 2015

Today, saw the election of the new head of the Odessa Economic Court.  It won’t be reported anywhere, but it nonetheless occurred.   As mentioned in yesterday’s entry, the courts of Odessa are generally recognised across the nation as coming a close second only to Kyiv with regard to the level of corruption that goes on.

As with all historical elections for public office of any kind in Odessa, the ballot managed to insure that questions will haunt the declared outcome – whether the declared outcome was genuine or not.

Both Samoobrona and Oberig, two organisations/associations that can best be described as “pro-Ukrainian activists” had filed an appeal for the election to be delayed (for whatever reason) – an application that was quietly and deliberately ignored.

Thus today, their application to delay the election ignored, activists duly arrived to try and prevent the ballot, and then secondly to insure that if it went ahead, it was witnessed.

Needless to say that attempts by Samoobrona and Oberig to tamper with the ballot box and thus delay the vote resulted in fisticuffs between the economic judiciary and activists – though no serious injuries resulted.

During the fracas, the ballot box disappeared (somewhere and with somebody) for a few minutes – a regular occurrence for elections in Odessa.  When it returned, the Election Commission duly carried out the process of vote counting, whilst quietly and deliberately ignoring the fact the ballot box had disappeared for a few minutes prior to its reappearance.

The outcome, Judge Petrov – protégé of the nefarious Sergei Kivalov MP – is now the head of the Odessa Economics Court.  An outcome that will do nothing to instill confidence in the court system in Odessa, nor put any public faith in judicial reform more broadly.

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Project Managers Wanted – Reforms Ukraine

March 29, 2015

It’s not often this blog advertises job vacancies – however these job vacancies are more worthy than most for some additional promotion, simply due to the fact that should those successful candidates succeed in fulfilling their appointed roles robustly, the author, together with the rest of Ukrainian society, is likely to benefit.

Despite this blog’s ineptitude at promoting job vacancies, it does appear that some websites are now being built in an attempt to fill that void – specifically in relation to what the DCFTA may or may not bring to Ukraine.

During July 2014, a Presidential Decree created the National Council and Executive Committee for Reforms.  In order to support it – or to be blunt, add the middle management and workforce to walk the talk of the enlightened thinkers – the Project Office for the Coordination of Development and Implementation of Reforms was necessarily born.

Having duly talked since July 2014, it is now time to walk.  Thus there are now vacancies for Project Managers, with an anticipated start date of late April/early May to insure the walk actually matches the talk.

Initially the roles are expected to last 12 months – although to be honest, it seems likely that the roles will be required to continue beyond a 1 year contract.  A wise candidate may anticipate at least another 12 month extension considering the scale of the tasks ahead.

The easy part will be providing defined coordination, analytical, and communications support, together with assistance in strategic planning reforms, responsibilities for the development of specific reform plans, and monitoring implementation.

(Getting things implemented and consolidated will be far, far more difficult than any planning.)

The Project Office naturally works in cooperation with the National Council and Executive Committee, but also with the EBRD – who will jointly assess candidates.

PMAs to candidate abilities:

Project manager:

Coordinates the reform work of the Task Team

Develops Task Team reforms

Monitors and controls the implementation of the Reform Plan

Makes regular reports to the Reform Plan Manager and the public.

 

Experience:

A minimum of 3 years experience in managing complex projects.

Proven change implementation success.

Minimum of a Master’s Degree (or equivalent).

Fluency in Ukrainian and English – both spoken and written.

Strong communication and negotiation skills

Ability to build consensus.

Be able to handle large quantities of data.

Capable decision maker.

 

Project Areas:

Electoral legislation reform

Public Procurement reform

Anti-corruption reform.

Judicial Reform

Decentralisation of Public Administration

Deregulation & Business Development reform.

Law Enforcement reform.

National Security & Defence reform.

Health Care reform.

Tax reform.

Agriculture reform.

Education reform

Financial Sector reform.

Public Property reform

Energy (& Energy Independence) reform.

 

Thus, having such a large number of erudite and highly educated readers, many of whom undoubtedly would be able to meet the requirements above, it is now a matter of informing you of how to apply.

Interested parties, please email you resume, together with a 1 page covering letter outlining which area of reform you feel you are best suited to project manage, to pmo@apu.gov.ua no later than 7th April.

Naturally any of you that apply and whom are ultimately successful, as and when you find yourself in Odessa battling with the regional fiefdom, then meeting for a coffee and a chat would be delightful.

 

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All over to Avakov and the MIA? – Law & (dis)Order, Odessa

March 24, 2015

In an interesting day for Odessa relating to law and order – and its enforcement – two developments of note have occurred.

The first development is the removal of the security structures in place in Odessa since 6th May 2014 by order of President Poroshenko.

From 6th May 2014 until yesterday, the local militsia/police were accompanied by “volunteers/paramilitary/” trained and equipped, under the pretense of insuring the local community and police rubbed along together fairly well in a post “2nd May 2014 Tragedy” environment.

The cold facts, however, were that whilst the “quasi-civilian/paramilitary minders” that accompanied the police albeit kept the police on the (fairly) straight and narrow, far more importantly, they were there to insure the loyalty of the police to Odessa and Ukraine.

The police seen by many in Odessa as having failed spectacularly on 2nd May 2014 at best, and at worst having sided with, or tacitly allowed, the pro-Russian elements to shoot dead numerous pro-Ukrainian protesters in the prelude to the Union House disaster, during which they were equally incompetent and/or colluding – depending upon your point of view.

With Mr Kolomoisky’s friend and business partner Igor Palitsa being Governor of Odessa, and having control over the “volunteers/paramilitary”, de facto Mr Kolomoisky has a (very) small patriotic army at his disposal in Odessa via Mr Palitsia.  Indeed, there are no prizes for guessing who equipped these people and therefore where some loyalty lay.

That, however, changed as of yesterday.  Undoubtedly not due to a change in the security threat to Odessa, but as a result of the on-going shenanigans surrounding Ukrnafta in Kyiv and “private security guards” on Mr Kolomoisky’s payroll “protecting” certain buildings were his current management team are under threat of replacement by the State.

(Indeed Igor Palitsa, the current Odessa Governor was Mr Kolomoisky’s chosen head of Ukrnafta until 2007, when he then entered politics as a Rada MP.)

As was predicted here many times over the past few months, the State and Mr Kolomoisky were heading toward a power game collision – a game that has now been joined.

Thus it has come to pass that as of yesterday the “volunteers/paramilitary” patrolling with the police no longer operate in the city – as confirmed by the Governor’s advisor Zoe Kazanzhi:

“I’ve talked to the Chairman of the Odessa Regional State Administration Igor Palitsa. I confirm and am authorized to report: all security structures, which from May 6 2014 in Odessa, maintained law and order, today are excluded from these processes, and have left the city.”

Thus, it’s over to Mr Arsen Avakov and Ministry of Internal Affairs alone then – despite the fact that no effective lustration has occurred within any Odessa MIA, with many remaining within the ranks that hold dubious allegiances.   It has to be said that many in Odessa look to events and security in Kharkiv, a city where Mr Avakov has a strong history and a good deal of personal power, and were more than pleased to have Mr Kolomoisky’s people acting as “volunteers/paramilitary” in joint patrols with the police of Odessa, insuring their allegiance to Odessa and Ukraine.

Rightly or wrongly the perception held by many has been that Mr Kolomoisky was, and is, far more reliable than Mr Avakov or the State in providing security for Odessa.

However, Mr Avakov and the MIA – perhaps fortunately – are still not left alone to provide the law and order for Odessa, even though he may well think that is the case.  Not having visited the city, like so many from Kyiv that really should, some may wonder if he (and others in Kyiv) really know what is going on here.

This brings us to the second development – which will be a realisation of what is happening in Odessa by those in Kyiv.  Mr Avakov and the MIA are not alone in policing Odessa – they also have the “Municipal Police/Guard”, created by the truly nefarious Mayor of Odessa, Gennady Trukhanov, that for some time has also been policing the city and enforcing the rule of law.

The problem being, that whilst the Mayor’s “Municipal Police/Guard” may be enforcing the rule of law, there is actually no legal basis for Mayor Trukhavov’s Municipal Police/Guard to do so – for there is no existing statute that either creates or recognises a “municipal police”.  The “Municipal Police/Guard” answering directly to the nefarious Mayor.

Ergo Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard” is in fact illegal and devoid of any statutory right to exist – and thus any statutory power to enforce the law (over and above the legal powers held by any citizen of Ukraine).

Indeed Mr Kolomoisky’s “volunteers/paramilitary” that patrolled with the Odessa police had, until yesterday, more legal foundation than Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard”.  Whilst the “volunteers/paramilitary” may have now all gone and/or disbanded, Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard” will continue to work tomorrow, next week, and into the future, enforcing the law in ways that they are not empowered to enforce it – because nobody from Kyiv ever comes to Odessa to notice such things.

Quite how the people of Odessa would rank who would look after their security most effectively would be interesting – though there would be few surprises to find Mr Avakov at the bottom of the list of three – behind an over-sized oligarch and mafia Mayor.

If the bombings within Odessa increase dramatically, (be they false flag, more settling of business scores under the veil of “terrorism”, or indeed genuine “pro-Russian” sponsored/driven events), Mr Avakov, and by extension President Poroshenko, will continue to lose political capital in Odessa.

Nevertheless, at some point (and with Mr Kolomoisky flexing his “paid for/hired” muscles in Kyiv currently, that point seems to have arrived), the issue of law enforcement had to be exclusively returned to the MIA.

Whether, perhaps, it may have been better received in Odessa after any roll-out of a new police service similar to that currently under way in Kyiv – complete with transparent recruiting etc. – is now somewhat irrelevant.

The legitimising or removal of the Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard” will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later, lest a queue of “wrongful arrests” hits the judicial system too.

However, it remains a sad state of affairs when the only 100% legitimate law enforcement/security entity ( the MIA and its leader) will be seen by a great many in the city as the worst, and least effective, of the 3 options that were providing law enforcement in the city up until yesterday –  especially so when the perceived security environment has not improved to the point that abandoning the “joint patrols” will fill many in Odessa with confidence.

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Local Elections 2015……or not

March 14, 2015

Following on from yesterday’s entry regarding the seemingly inescapable legitimising of the illegitimate, when the OSCE will, whilst sanctioning the October 2015 local elections free and fair, simultaneously also legitimise those within the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine that will be far from free and fair, it is perhaps worthy of examining whether the scheduled October date will actually occur – or not – and under what electoral laws.

The issue of early parliamentary elections in 2016 was raised in an entry regarding the re-re-branding of Block Poroshenko to Solidarity (again) a few days ago – “Nevertheless, only the foolish would rule out new Rada elections in 2016.”

As stated therein  “There is also the issue of recent Rada history, where it is difficult to find a second Rada session after election that didn’t grind to a deadlock and infighting, resulting in very little being achieved. The third session has often been more or less fatal. Few parliaments have progressed to the forth session and beyond in anything other than a non-productive coma.”

Predicting such an occurrence, an entry appeared here on 14th October 2014 – prior to the election of the current Rada highlighting the issue of pending and necessary changes to the current electoral legislation, that opined – “Indeed, one of the first laws that should probably be passed by a new RADA are the currently pending new election laws. It would give those laws 5 years, via numerous minor elections a chance to bed in, being amended to fine tune if necessary – in the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, the new laws would be in force for any early RADA elections should a full 5 year term not be the fate of the RADA sworn in post 26th October.

The forthcoming elections are not going to return a “good” RADA – but they may return one that is “good enough”. The question is then, for how long will it be “good enough”? New elections laws, the removal of MPs immunity and other big ticket laws need be the priority for a newly invested legislature. It’s first 100 days will be key as to whether it will see out a full term – or not.”

Needless to say, as with so much necessary reform promoting and corruption reducing legislation, the required new law on elections that would seriously reduce the nefariousness surrounding single mandate seats is still absent.  Thus the answer to the question posed above is now becoming clearer with regard to just how long this Rada will be deemed “good enough”.

early

It is increasingly clear that new parliamentary elections are going to occur long before the term of this Rada expires.  The Spring of 2016 is looking like an increasingly possible date for another Rada reset.  Indeed it is probably the worst kept secret within the Kolomoiski and Liovochkin camps, that a Spring 2016 Rada reset is currently anticipated.

It goes without saying that the new election laws would be best passed long before any such elections.  That therefore raises questions over the laws under which the local elections will be held in October.  It would be wise to have any new legislation in place at least 6 months prior to any vote so all understand the changes and outcomes of any new system.  A year would be preferable, and indeed is something of an unofficial expectation of the international community whenever and where ever practicable.

Working back from October, any legislative changes will need to occur in April/May to provide a minimum of 6 months lead-in/familiarisation for those taking part and also administrating the elections.  Will the drafted, but as yet still to be submitted “Association of Ukrainian Cities Bill” that suggests some major changes to local electoral law be adopted, or will elections take place under existing laws, or will there simply be a few amendments?  First past the post single mandates, party lists, or a combination of both?  A mirror of any new parliamentary system to be adopted, or a different system, or the old system?

Alternatively, if the unofficial international expectations are to be facilitated, then the October 2015 elections would be bumped back until Spring 2016 – the same heavily tipped period for a new Rada election.  This presenting the prospect of simultaneous elections and a substantial saving on the associated administrative costs – whilst also bumping the electoral costs from the 2015 budget to that of 2016.

With decentralisation likely to make political control of the regional administrations far more important than ever before, is there political gain in presenting the Ukrainian constituency with both local/regional and national choices simultaneously – and can bumping the local elections from October 2015 until Spring 2016 be justified (even if using that period of delay to “educate” the electorate about the changes)?

The first thing to look out for are electoral laws on the Rada agenda in April/May – followed by the historical death throws of effectiveness associated with the 3rd legislative session ghosts of many a Rada past.

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The OSCE dilemma

March 13, 2015

There has been much criticism made of the OSCE monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine – some of which has been justified, some of it unfounded.

Indeed some OSCE monitors have been replaced after social media has unveiled certain biases, and although those personal biases may or may not have influenced any official reporting, perception counts when a mission is purported to be neutral – a problem that will not disappear if the OSCE monitor presence in Ukraine is to double in number.

Undoubtedly the criticism the OSCE receives for being either “soft”, or being somewhat indifferent to the biases of certain appointed monitors, or ineffectual, will continue.  Neutrality, however, does not necessarily equate to accuracy – and accuracy is paramount in any official reporting (OSCE or otherwise).

That a ceasefire has yet to materialise, or that the OSCE continues to be denied unfettered access in order to carry out its mandated role is not the fault of the OSCE monitoring missions.  It is the fault of those that would prevent it from doing so within eastern Ukraine, and those without that should be far more robust in seeking to insure its mandate can be fulfilled – the OSCE ratified nations.

Thus the criticisms will continue, and with a storm clearly visible upon the horizon that will further undermine its perceived flaccid, inaccurate, and indifferent image held by many.  That storm being the local elections in Ukraine scheduled for October 2015.  Elections the OSCE will undoubtedly be asked to monitor.

However and whomever controls whatever geographical area in eastern Ukraine by that time, it is clear that at the very least, the agreed Minsk 19th September 2014 demarcation line will be adhered to by the Ukraine with regard to some form of “specialised local government” procedures and protocols.

If the Minsk Agreement is to be adhered to by Ukraine, then within those legally recognised “specialised areas”, de facto falling outside the direct control of Ukraine (regardless of the de jure), local elections will occur too, in line with Ukrainian electoral legislation – except of course it won’t.

The Kremlin, the swivel-eyed, the criminal gangs, the warlords and those locals genuinely separatist in ideology have not come this far to allow a free and fair election involving unfettered campaigning by mainstream Ukrainian political parties/candidates – electoral outcomes will need to be 100% assured in their anti-Kyiv result.  Thus free and fair elections in these areas there will not be.

Meanwhile, hopefully more or less free and fair local elections will occur across the rest of the nation – and will be deemed to be free and fair by the OSCE (and other monitors).

Thus, despite what will be undoubtedly unfair conditions in a few localities in eastern Ukraine, the vast majority of the nation will have held elections that meet internationally accepted democratic standards – and the OSCE report will state the Ukrainian elections were free and fair – because the vast majority were (despite a paragraph noting deficiencies in certain parts of eastern Ukraine).

Ergo, the OSCE dilemma is the lack of wiggle room in avoiding legitimising the outcomes in the “specialised local government” regions in the east, regardless of how unfair they are, when the election report they produce relates to the nation as a whole, and either recognises the nationally held elections as legitimate – or not – upon the international stage.

Thus yet more criticism awaits for the OSCE in Ukraine come the autumn when it is forced to legitimise the illegitimate.

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