Posts Tagged ‘NGOs’


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.


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.


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.


Saakashvili’s Khvylya Party begins to take shape?

October 21, 2016

On 18th July an entry appeared regarding the creation of the Khvylya (Wave) Party which had Odessa Governor Saakashvili’s finger prints all over it (even if he is not formally a member thereof).

Not much has been written about it since.  In part due to the fact that Governor Saakashvili has had one eye on recent electoral events in Georgia little has happened overtly.

Those Georgian electoral events now (almost) over and clearly Governor Saakashvili will remain in Ukraine as a result.

Therefore perhaps time presents itself to formulate the party structure both nationally and regionally to prepare Khvylya for any forthcoming elections.  Although it will still to be work in progress, something resembling leadership for the Odessa branch of the party seems to be forming.


Perhaps most surprisingly is the apparent defection from Samopomich of Anna Pozdnyakov (currently Secretary for the parliamentary faction).

Among the names floating in the wind, the most obviously leader of the Odessa branch would be the extremely competent and talented Salome Bobrovskaya.

Of the usual suspects, Teimuraz Nishianidze (head of fund/charity “For Odessa”) and Ivan Liptuga (current head of the Department of Tourism) seem likely to be part of the Khvylya regional party set-up.

From civil society/activist roots come Vadim Labas (Oberig), Harvard Grad Vladimir Shemaev, Grigory Kozma, and Alexie Prokopenko (New Generation).

Historical local governance experience arrives via Andrei Karpenko, and of local SME’s, CEO of TIS Alexander Stavinster’s name is rumoured.

Certainly a team capable of building a reasonable regional political party administration – particularly if Ms Bobrovskaya does lead it.  However, as the entry of 18th July makes clear “With Misha Saakashvili named atop the Khvylya party list, nationally 10% or more of the constituency may well have voted for it.  Without his name atop, what percentage?  3%?  5%?  Will the party cross the political threshold to enter the Verkhovna Rada via the proportional representation vote at all?”

There will be a lot of hard work for these people to do even to gain a solid foundation from which to build in the oblast where the unofficial party leader is Governor.  That said, none of the alternative political parties are especially appealing either (for one reason or another) and work in progress may yet produce something surprising (albeit not earth moving).  Time will tell.


NKREKU – Draft Law 2966-d (Energy Regulator)

September 22, 2016

As part of the ratified obligations made by the Ukrainian State, within the Association Agreement with the EU is mentioned the Third Energy Package and Ukrainian adherence to it.

Quite rightly too for there is no way Ukraine would significantly overhaul its energy sector otherwise – energy is a significant font of corruption that continually spews (no differently to Government subsidies and VAT refunds/fraud/coercion).

It is true that Ukraine has made some real progress in reforming its energy sector – as difficult as each and every step (both forward and backward) has been.  Having now corrected an entirely retarded decision relating to Ukrtransgaz, a reader can nevertheless anticipate an all out assault by vested interests upon Naftogaz Ukraine and its subsidiaries almost immediately after any final Stockholm Court ruling is delivered regarding its claims against Gazprom.

Ukraine now faces the prickly issue of reforming its energy regulator into one that serves the interests of those other than vested interests.  Needless to say a process that has not, and remains, a far from smooth, influence-free, process.

Draft law №2966-d “On the National Commission in charge of regulation in the energy sector and utilities (NKREKU)” easily passed through its first reading within the Verkhovna Rada with 285 votes in favour on 12th April – unsurprisingly as it was authored by a dozen parliamentarians from across 5 parties (including those in opposition).

Nevertheless, despite its inclusive authorship, it has yet to receive its second and final reading and vote prior to being sent to the president for signature and eventually entering into law.

Amendments are being sought.  Meddling from the Bankova (Presidential Administration) occurs.

The draft Bill mandated a staggered replacement of the existing regulatory personnel, with limited departures every 6 months until all were replaced over a period of 18 months.  The fixed tenure appointments replacing them therefore also eventually departing in a staggered fashion some years hence too – which is perhaps wise if institutional memory is to be maintained in any meaningful way.


As is always the case with Ukrainian politics, who decides, and who decides who decides, is a major issue in most appointments – and one that regularly slows down any process whilst decisions about decisions are decided.

The new regulatory personnel will be decided by a competition commission comprising of two presidential appointees, two parliamentary appointees from within the Verhovna Rada Coal and Energies Committee, and one appointee from the Cabinet of Ministers – when the law is eventually passed.

From this, apparently an independent regulator will emerge over the course of 2 years – allowing for the law to be passed, decisions about decisions to be decided, open competition, interviews, more competition appointment decisions, and eventually a full, staggered, personnel change.  There may yet appear an energy regulator that is an independent authority and arbiter (with a good deal of genuine independence) for the energy market that will defend the interests of consumers, and create fair conditions for suppliers and manufacturers.

Very good – so get on with it.

Indeed, Messrs Leszek Balcerowicz and Ivan Miklos who are part of the official advisory conclave regarding reform have rather tired of such nonsense and delays, stating “Further delay of the adoption of the bill as a whole can have a negative impact both on the state of the energy market in Ukraine, and the country’s international image as a reliable partner.  The independent regulator – A prerequisite for attracting foreign direct investment in the energy sector calls upon all political forces to immediately support the bill as amended, prepared by the Parliamentary Committee for a second reading.”

The passage of this draft law which pushes Ukraine further along its 3rd Energy Package obligations also releases more EU cash.

Perhaps the draft law will receive its final Verkhovna Rada vote this week.  Perhaps the President will sign it at some point.  Perhaps by Christmas the first new personnel will have been selected.  It will be 2018 however before the regulator has been completely overhauled as foreseen by the timetable within the draft law.

A reader may suspect that the necessary butchering of Naftogaz Ukraine as required by the 3rd Energy Package is not about the wait for a completely reformatted Regulator – and the guaranteed battle by vested interests over Nafogaz Ukraine and its subsidiaries prior to, and during Natogaz dismemberment will immediately follow the Arbitration Court in Stockholm making a ruling – that attack certainly won’t wait.  Thus how much more perverted and warped the market the Regulator will be asked to regulate once it is independent and fit for purpose remains to be seen.

In the meantime, as a reader will be accustomed by now, between attempts at amendments and politicking between the Verkhovna Rada Committee, Cabinet and Presidential Administration, Draft Law 2966-d remains exactly that – a draft law.

Nevertheless, if an independent regulator does eventually emerge, that can only be a positive outcome.


Your name’s not down…… Opinion Surveys/Polls

September 12, 2016

A few days ago, a wandering policy maker from the aesthetically splendid institutional bunker on King Charles Street, London, peered under the rock and sought out the blog for a chat in the Odessa sunshine.

The conversation was wide-ranging and almost in its entirety will not be repeated – however the banal and certainly not sensitive issue of Ukrainian opinion polls and potential candidates for future office was raised.

Polling/opinion surveys in Ukraine, and Odessa, are a permanent and never-ending exercise – the vast majority of which are carried out with no intention of publication for a wide audience – certainly not for the media nor the electorate.  Most are for internal use only for those commissioning the surveys/polls.

Thus on occasion a questioningly raised eyebrow curls upon the wrinkled forehead of the blog when a publicly published opinion poll/survey has very little resemblance to three or four different political party surveys/polls commissioned for their internal use, the statistics from which may have somehow reached the blog Inbox.

There are always methods to skew opinion polls/surveys in the way they are conducted, (physically/phone/internet), the exact wording of the questions, and even the emphasis placed on certain words within the questions when they are asked – this notwithstanding the ability to “buy/dictate” the survey/poll outcome for use in any information operation/social framing of political issues.   There are obviously other tinkering options with regard to demographics, locations, and accurate recording of answers etc.


The above being accepted, more to the point with Ukrainian and local opinion polls other more fundamental matters also surface. for example, with the latest presidential opinion polls/surveys and the projection of anticipated voting.  The usual historical and wearily repeated names are polled, Ms Tymoshenko, Mr Boiko, President Porosehnko and a perennial assortment of other aged politicians.

The next presidential election is more than 2 years away – which is a very long time in politics – and yet despite many sitting Prime Ministers having historically stood for presidential election, inexplicably Prime Minister Groisman was not a name who appeared among the possible candidates in the last polls/survey.

It is easy to state he would have no chance, or that he is simply a Poroshenko puppet, or that he has little top level policy experience today – but 2 years hence?  He is already starting to show subtle signs political maturity, PR awareness, and appears to be at the beginning of an effort at forging his own, more Poroshenko-independent persona which is something to watch looking forward.  There is also every chance that in the coming two years he will also have a public (be it part of a pantomime or more genuinely) spat with the Presidential Administration that will further forge his own more independent space in the political arena – or at least that perception.

He is also not alone when it comes to absent names on presidential polls, there are others that in the coming two years may well become prominent figures who will also run.  It seems unlikely that Opposition Block can remain a united party for that long, so from within the current Opposition Block fold, it will be Mr Boiko and one other.

The question becomes who takes votes from who – and what effect it would have on the current opinion polls that don’t even name today certain likely candidates of tomorrow and current polling missing some obvious possibilities such as the current Prime Minister therefore have limited meaning – if any so far ahead of the event.

Ultimately it will become a choice between slow, steady and occasionally faltering centralism verses loud, reckless and probably disastrous populism.  The names perhaps somewhat less important.

Turning to Odessa, if not Mayor Trukhanov then who?  The Mayor’s confident Oleg Bryndyk?  Others such as Kolomoisky’s Andrei Kotlyar, or Valerie Matkovsky, Sergei Kalinchuk and Anatoly Orel?  Perhaps Michael Shmushkovich or Anatoli Urbanski despite their preference for Oblast and not City governance, could be tempted too should Mr Goncharenko decide to run his men – both have been Oblast Rada Chairman.   Maybe Mr Potapsky Mr Goncharenko’s man currently Secretary/Speaker of City Hall?

None are doing any preparatory work now to give themselves a good chance of beating the current Mayor at the ballot box.  If by some miracle Mayor Trukhanov is taken down by NABU, who are the obvious candidates with real societal traction to replace him and who can capitalise most effectively upon his falling popularity figures?

The Mayor’s falling popularity can be measured, but who if anybody is becoming more popular as an alternative?

What of Governor Saakashvili?  Who are the candidates to replace him when he eventually moves on?  (Perhaps that may be quite soon depending upon Georgian electoral outcomes on the immediate horizon.)  Whatever faults he may have, or questionable judgements he may have made, when looking at his predecessors such as Mykola Skoryk, Eduard Matviychuk etc., he remains a vast improvement upon what came before him – for in truth to be any worse would be close to impossible.  Who will replace him that does not give the perception of rolling back toward the worst Odessa has suffered?  Is this really the best there is to offer the constituency of Ukraine and/or Odessa?

The rest of the conversation will remain permanently unwritten – but a few lines relating to current opinion polls/surveys are probably worth writing.


Corruption Convictions Statistics – A few answers and a few tools

September 1, 2016

The last entry bemoaned that lack of official, easily accessible data when it comes to convictions for corruption (not arrests for corruption) in Ukraine – a battle which despite all the rhetoric that has spewed forth remains stunted by way of results in the perception of the national constituency.

It is convictions (and their consistency and proportionality) that count.

This is something it now seems fairly clear that the powers in Kyiv are increasingly aware of as election cycles move ever closer.  (Hence, the cynical may suggest, the newly adopted legislative ability to allow those that the elite vested interests do not really want to put in jail to flee, and then subsequently find them guilty “in absentia“.  This not withstanding its obvious employment for those such as Yanukovych et al.)

Partly by coincidence, and partly by way of response to that entry, it is now possible to point those that wish to track corruption convictions (not arrests) in certain directions.

Firstly, the day following the blog entry the ever-interesting Nashi Groshi published an entry with some corruption statistics.  In an attempt to do justice to “fair use”, a summary in English follows – Nashi Groshi please forgive anything that you consider goes beyond “fair use”:

Between July 2015 and July 2016 not a single official of highest civil service or political position in Ukraine was convicted of corruption, abuse of power, embezzlement or misappropriation of State property.  Not one.

During the same period 952 lesser mortals were convicted of corruption of which only 128 actually went to jail.  Of those 128 people, 68 were sentenced to jail terms of between 2 – 5 years, and 47 people received 5 years (or more).

Of those 128 people given jail terms, only 33 are in jail.  The other incarceration rulings are pending appeal.

Of the 952 convictions, only 3 are “Category A” people – Category A being within the statutorily defined elite civil servant and political circles.  Another 153 are “Category B” officials/public servants.  All the others are mere minions within the State machinery/institutions of State.

Between Category A and Category B convictions, a total of 4 people are actually in jail.

These statistics are a result of Nashi Groshi analysing 819 judicial verdicts relating to Articles 191, 364, 368, 369 and 369-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine between 1 June 2015 and 30 June 2016.

If not a complete picture, then Nashi Groshi at the very least paints a far more public picture than does the Ministry of Justice – for such easily digestable statistics remain exceptionally difficult to find.


The ever reliable Lana Sevastopolskaya, and upstanding citizen (and a friend) Sergiy Lesyk also made contact with two websites that allow for corruption conviction research based efforts – albeit neither are the easiest to navigate nor extract data from.

The first, Corruption Information Justice, and the second a Ukrainian government website Reyestra Court.

To be blunt so designed are these websites that when it comes to extracting empirical data to compare conviction rates, the actual official sentencing handed down including fines and/or property seizures (let us not even consider disposal thereof regarding seized assets), across the oblasts with regard to consistency and proportionality, it will take more than a little effort.  Unquestionably more effort than the vast majority are prepared to put in, in order to produce sufficient simple data for dummies from which empirical observation can be made.

Lo it remains, for those that prefer swiftly accessible, easily digestible statistics – for example the external policymakers that are funding much of the Ukrainian anti-corruption effort and have little time for any other representational formats – for the Ministry of Justice to provide a simple, nationally accessible, oblast by oblast listing of corruption convictions and sentencing, of which all are a matter of public record anyway – somewhere.

Nevertheless, in the meantime thanks to those upstanding citizens that responded to the last entry – a little more light upon corruption convictions can be shed for those prepared to make the effort.


Data accessibility – Apps4Cities competition

August 16, 2016

About a week ago, whilst sat with a friend (and soon to be business partner) fluent in those strange tongues of Java, C++ and other exotic yet unintelligible languages that produce Microsoft Ukraine winners,  the blog tentatively mentioned the fact that an “Odessa App” would be a rather good idea – particularly if the city emerges as the Eurovision host.  (“Tentatively mentioned” owing to the fact that keeping said friend (and soon to be business partner) concentrating on our mutual project was and is the priority.)

Some ideas were tossed about.

The issue was raised simply because the City and Oblast are particularly bad at communication both with each other, and perhaps more importantly with the local constituency.  Indeed “communication” is perhaps the wrong word when mentioning local government for it implies to many a two-way interaction.  It is more accurate to state that both City and Oblast are particularly bad at information and its delivery.

That said, our “tossing of ideas” covered far more than communicating Odessa local governance issues via an App. – nothing quite so dull.


Nevertheless, and by coincidence, 16th August witnessed the NGO OPORA announce an “Apps4Cities” competition.  What’s more there is a small $5000 incentive for winner(s) – not much, but a financial incentive nonetheless.

OPORA are certainly on the right track for expecting local governance to provide sensible solutions to their own woeful communication is folly – they can’t even communicate with each other.

Hopefully there will be a qualitative response.  It will be very interesting indeed to see just what solutions are offered by a very creative civil society and IT community now well used to filling gaping voids where governance fails. – and where governance fails the most is effective implementation and communication.

Expect some very smart solutions to be offered!


Yatseniuk resigns as Prime Minister (cue Groisman)

April 10, 2016

Entirely unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Yatseniuk announced his resignation from the post on Sunday 10th April – on cue.

As this blog tweeted last week:


On 7th April the blog received confirmation from those same people behind the Odessa curtain that Prime Minister Yatseniuk would resign (officially) on 12th April.  He has now announced that intention.


Absolutely no surprise to quite a few, for it has been a fairly poorly kept secret.

For those pondering his replacement, it will be the current Verkhovna Rada Speaker and President Poroshenko prodigy, Volodymyr Groisman – 100%.  It has been his future role for at least the past 3 weeks, despite any rumours surrounding Natalie Jaresko.

For those that do not closely follow Ukrainian politics, effectively Ms Jaresko ruled herself out when stating she would only lead a technocratic government – for there will be snowballs in hell before a purely technocratic government leads Ukraine.

Ergo between the lines that statement not only ruled herself out of the PM race, but also makes it particularly difficult to continue as Finance Minister in a Cabinet of Ministers that is anything other than technocratic.  If she would only lead a technocratic government, why would she remain part of a government that clearly will not be?  The Ivy League lecture circuit awaits perhaps?

Indeed the composition of the new Cabinet of Ministers is also known – at least to this blog (and probably quite a few others – barring last minute changes that could derail the whole thing of course).  Unfortunately readers will have to wait for its official unveiling, or leaking elsewhere, for that composition was conveyed in the strictest of confidences.

Nevertheless, almost all was settled by 7th April – settled other than the issue of sorting out money among the odious shenanigans behind the curtain that is.  That issue is now almost entirely settled too.  Hence Prime Minister Yatseniuk announcing his resignation per the Grey Cardinal script(ure).


Volodymyr Groisman will become (the second Jewish) Prime Minister of Ukraine very, very soon.  (For the sake of interest, Ukraine’s oldest serving MP Yukhym Zvyahilsky was the first Jewish PM).  He is actually very competent.  A good listener, a good negotiator and generally a fairly decent man.  His main drawback is being seen as the President’s prodigy.  That said, because of that perception, lack of reforms henceforth will clearly be laid at the presidential door, with little wiggle room to explain failure.

The new perception

The new perception

Needless to say, Mr Groisman and his new Cabinet will enjoy some Verkhovna Rada support – initially.  Ukraine will need to make the most of this support and spurt along the reform path before the dysfunctional norm returns within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.

Ms Tymoshenko is clearly already in electioneering mode and will not hold off with her populist political flapdoodle for very long.  Nevertheless, she will tone down the rhetoric briefly for the sake of political appearances.

Assuredly Prime Minister Groisman and Cabinet will have a minimum of 6 months before they can face a vote of no confidence.  His Cabinet may last 12 months – seeing Ukraine through to the other side of the Brexit referendum, US elections, and perhaps it may last long enough to get beyond ballots in Germany and France too.  If so that would be a good result.  However, it seems very unlikely that his time as PM or the new Cabinet will last until the end of this full parliamentary term.

Ergo, it is hoped that there are clear priorities for what will be a limited window of reformist opportunity.  Undoubtedly Prime Minster Groisman (when he takes office), his new Cabinet (when announced) the new (slim) majority coalition, and “external supporters” of Ukraine have priorities that align fairly well – if not exactly.

Mr Groisman’s challenge is to get civil society back on board, continue a good relationship with “external supporters”, and get as much reform accomplished as is practicable (and sensible) within 12 months (if he, his Cabinet and a new coalition lasts that long).

There will probably be a fair bit of “good news” emitting from Ukraine after several weeks of “bad news” in the immediate months ahead.  The road will however remain long, winding and bumpy.  There will still be backward steps occasionally.  Early elections still remain highly likely at the time of writing.  Nevertheless, progress there will (once again) be.

All eyes will now be upon who is in the new Cabinet of Ministers (expect those of this blog for reasons stated above).

The appointment that this blog is looking at is that of the next Prosecutor General, for reform within the PGO in parallel to PM Groisman and a new Cabinet moving things along, may just prolong the lifespan of both and mitigate against early elections.

The question is whether President Poroshenko will nominate a Prosecutor General that will serve both the public and assist his prodigy as Prime Minister – rather than another chained, loyal, Presidential dog.

(As for Arseney Yatseniuk, having been allowed to leave head held high, he can rehabilitate and reinvent himself concentrating on policy without having to defend vested interests.  A squeeze on Kolomoisky and Akhmetov to follow?)


Polluting the civil society space

March 11, 2016

It is no secret that the Ukrainian health care system is in desperate needs of reform – which governmental ministry or institution of State is not?

It is an issue that is in no way assisted by the long-term absence of a Minister of Health to drive, be responsible and accountable for, those reforms.

A strategy does exist, but in the absence of “ownership” of this reformation plan – and it would be foolish to expect the Cabinet of Ministers or Prime Minister Yatseniuk to take any responsibility for its implementation over and above the “easy” parts (for the health care system is a poisoned chalice) in the absence of a Minister of Health – implementation, no differently than leadership, is severely lacking.

Without leadership, ownership, responsibility and accountability, the Ministry of Health remains as vulnerable to corruption and theft as it was under former Health Minister Raisa Bohatyriova, who as part of the Yanukovych regime stole tens of millions of dollars from the budget through several schemes.

Earlier this month Ms Bohatyriova was removed from the EU sanctions list of Yanukovych thieves having repaid the Ukrainian State the monies stolen, making good the financial losses attributed to her.  Needless to say she remains wanted by Ukraine for the crimes committed despite the return of the stolen funds.  Mens rea and all that.

However, one very sensible reform to occur within the Ministry of Health was to purchase medicines directly from international organisations and producers, eliminating intermediaries that traditionally in Ukraine add no value, but are simply used nefariously to steal budget funds.

Whilst Ms Bohatyriova and Alexander Yanukovych, both allegedly prime beneficiaries of such scams within the Ministry of Health, are no longer in Ukraine seeking to avoid due process/justice, not all of those whose acts were more than preparatory to the commission of such crime, and indeed were active accomplices in such crime, have left Ukraine.  Nor sadly, have they left their positions and roles within the Ukrainian health system – be those roles direct or indirect.

The blog having previously attempted to raise awareness over the ever-increasing attempts to muddy, clutter, pollute and/or antagonise the domestic civil society space, notwithstanding the obvious dubious NGOs such as Firtash’s “Agency for the Moderisation of Ukraine” (AMU), or Medvedchuk’s “Ukrainian Choice”, Messrs Kuchma, Pinchuk, Nefjodov et al, will throw, and are throwing, entities into the NGO soup too.  An oligarchical fight back within the now very influential domestic civil society space is perhaps underway.

Thus it becomes evermore necessary to understand who sits behind and/or funds/heavily donates to civil society entities and the specific causes/sections of society they purport to represent.  Likewise the relationships of the nefarious, odious and scandalous to those leading civil society entities is occasionally worth a little investigation too.

Only last week the National Medical Chamber, an NGO with 69,000 doctors throughout a network of 25 regional offices, decried the attempts of other NGOs to reverse the current policy of avoiding intermediaries in procurement of drugs.

Yet such NGOs as MedKontrol, are associated with people such as former Health Minister Bohatyriova and clearly lobby on behalf of “nefarious schemes past” and the avoidance/delay in meeting EU standards and mechanisms for registration of medicines – Satire perhaps demands that warning labeling of “health care” NGOs be applied no differently to the labeling upon medicines themselves.

Warning on prescription bottle about nitrates and erective disfunction tablets

With so many positives being orated and written regarding Ukrainian civil society – and rightly so, for it will lead Ukraine to a better place despite the political class – it is perhaps timely once again to remind readers of the creeping oligarchisation and criminalisation into the civil society space by the vested interests against which the vast majority of Ukrainian civil society has taken into battle.

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