Posts Tagged ‘organsied crime’


Sending the right message the wrong way? – Groisman

May 7, 2016

Since the beginning of the year, intermittently entries have appeared regarding the valiant battle being fought at Odessa Customs by Yulia Marushevska (and the team behind her), against vested interests.

Those ad hoc entries consistently containing prose along the lines of – “Ms Marushevska is already clearly being pressured by the old entrenched personalities, as well as the nefarious among the SBU and SFS that have always benefited from the very lucrative and nefarious scams that historically defined the Odessa ports – and thus looks favourite.”

Indeed, for those interested, the Facebook page of Yulia Marushevska describes a daily battle – particularly of late with the State Fiscal Service and Roman Nasirov, an individual seemingly determined to frustrate and obstruct reform at every opportunity.  She has managed to gather 3 official reprimands from Mr Nasirov, and should she survive long enough, there will probably be more.

If a reader ponder why Mr Nasirov remains in control of the State Fiscal Service whilst seemingly actively seeking to keep enormous illicit financial flows alive from which some in Kyiv, the SFS, the SBU, together with local vested interests have historically profited, as stated in a very recent post related to the apparent inability to sack senior officials – “Indeed, how people such as Roman Nasirov remain head of the State Fiscal Service may also perplex a reader (though a cynical reader may believe that he remains in place as part of a grubby political deal to insure sufficient votes for the new Cabinet from otherwise hostile political positions).”

Indeed both President Poroshenko, and Prime Minister Groisman immediately upon his appointment, received an open letter from Yulia Marushevska to support Odessa Customs (notwithstanding persistent lobbying to do so from Governor Saakashvili) – and also a request to remove Mr Nasirov.  Whether or not Mr Nasirov will be removed, considering the quote immediately above, remains to be seen.

If so, would he go out in similar fashion to Viktor Shokin when he sacked Davit Sakvarelidze in his few final hours in post, by attempting to fire Yulia Marushevska as his swan song.  Honours even (or equal losses) between functionaries/beneficiaries of the Old Guard vis a vis the reformers?

Clearly the removal of Mr Nasirov would not be immediate if, as insinuated above, his retaining that position was a requirement for political support (votes) in appointing the new Cabinet.  Further those votes may yet be required to see the necessary constitutional changes regarding the judiciary over the 300 (+) voting line – A vote due in the Verkhovna Rada by mid-July.

However, Mr Groisman, if he wishes to be perceived as a successful Prime Minister cannot ignore the rampant corruption within the SFS and Customs Service.  Internal regional governance and external supporters will not allow the issue to be ignored.

Whatever a reader may think of Mr Groisman, to be perceived a failure will not be upon his agenda.

Lo, the Prime Minister has fired a public shot across the bow of the Customs Service and the State Fiscal Service – “You have three months to restore order within Ukrainian Customs.  If you have a political will, I support you – if not, write the statement of resignation today or otherwise be swept away.”

Two clear goals were set – to increase the State revenues and work honestly.  (In other words significantly reduce the rampant levels of corruption in which you are engaged and allow more to reach the State coffers.).

Thus far there is little wrong with the message.

A reader my ponder whether a 3 month period to regain control of two State institutions is both necessary and/or possible whilst simultaneously leaving in senior posts those who have (often deliberately) failed to reduce the rampant levels of corruption within the institutions that they lead – but again that period is perhaps politically sufficient to then be able to justify the less than timely removal of personnel left in post previously required to garner political support from otherwise hostile quarters when the new Cabinet was elected, and also see constitution changing votes gather enough support in the meantime.


Unfortunately the Prime Minister then made a statement that may be perceived by his critics as something approaching poor judgement.  He went on to state that the SFS and Customs creating and participating in grey or black schemes at a time when there is a war in the east and people have no money to buy medicine is “looting and a crime“.

He is of course right, it is “looting” (to use his term) and a crime” – but it is looting and a crime whether there is a war in the east, and whether the population can afford medicine, or not.  If Ukraine were a prosperous nation and peace was ever-present in the neighbourhood, in no way would that make the rampant corruption within the SFS and Customs any less “looting and a crime“.

Thus his critics may perceive this as being somewhat less than robust regarding corruption and something similar to an inferred temporary moratorium and/or request for little more than reasonable parameters upon nefariousness.

Whatever perception a reader may have, it is perhaps too soon to act as judge, jury and executioner on a Groisman premiership.

Indeed, the pressure to deal with Customs and the SFS internally of the governing class is not limited to pleas from Yulia Marushevska or rants from Governor Saakashvili.  Transcarpathian Governor Gennady Moskal has now threatened to resign due to senior appointments within his region’s Customs Service that in his view does little but enhance the interests of the cigarette smuggling mafia.  No doubt neighbouring supportive States also deliver such a message when deprived of domestic VAT due to huge quantities of smuggled Ukrainian cigarettes.

Naturally any response to Governor Moskal’s concerns (to avoid his resignation) will be led by Roman Nasirov of the SFS, the subject of complaints from both Odessa Customs and Governor, and an individual who clearly already suffers from a lack of confidence from the Transcarpathian Governor too.  Mr Nasirov by inference is also the man that the Prime Minister has given 3 months to sort his institutional act out, whilst undoubtedly Prime Minister Groisman has also been provided with weighty tomes regarding issues and evidence against Mr Nasirov .

Few will thus have much faith in Mr Nasirov ever sorting out the SFS or Customs – but just how difficult will he prove to be to remove – and perhaps as importantly, when is it most timely to do so from a PM Groisman viewpoint?

Is Prime Minister Groisman sending the right message the wrong way – or is he sending the right message in the only way possible – for now?


A sustainable exit? Ukraine’s economy returns to growth

November 17, 2015

According to the Ukrainian State Statistics Office, after 18 months of recession, an anemic but nonetheless welcome return to growth has arrived.  GDP in the quarter July – September saw growth of 0.7%.  The annual rate of economic decline slowing from 17.2% in the 1st quarter to 7% in the 3rd.

Most annalists predicting an economic growth rate of between 1 – 2.5% for 2016.  Meager as that may appear, better a sustainable 2% than an unsustainable larger figure.


The question therefore, is whether the 1 – 2.5% estimates (and all those in between) are in fact sustainable?

Whilst the war in eastern Ukraine quietly simmers, with deaths counted in single figures each day rather than in tens or hundreds when peak hostilities were in full flow, that will have had an impact upon a return to growth.  Small increases in domestic consumption, exports and investment responsible.

One question of sustainability is therefore whether continuing hostilities in the east of the nation can be kept at a simmer rather than a return to boiling over.

Yet another question of growth sustainability is that of investment in 2016, and that will in no uncertain terms be dictated by the willingness of the Verkhovna Rada to start passing more reform orientated, market opening legislation, together with visible and tangible institutional efforts to implement anti-corruption legislation without any (or at least much) political interference.

The sustained protection of property and intellectual rights, the rule of law applied impartially, no matter who they are or who they know, and a transparently enforced leveling of the playing field will bring investment – whether or not the war in the east returns to boiling point.

Those in the trenches facing off against the Ukrainian armed forces in the east are problematic, but it is those that are entrenched in the corrupt networks at all levels in and behind the Verkhovna Rada are a far more destructive force.

One has to suspect the later is far more of a threat to sustained economic growth in 2016.


Back to the Odessa political shenanigans

October 13, 2015

Apologies to all readers for the zooming in on the politics of Odessa and then zooming out to the politics and policies of Ukraine so often recently that it must make a reader feel woozy – but there are certain IPs that read this blog from afar with particular interest in the local picture, whereas most readers are content with ruminations of a more national scale.  A feeble attempt is made to accommodate all.

A few days ago an entry appeared relating to the fact Sergei Kivalov had withdrawn from the race for Mayor of Odessa – despite the fact the will remain on the ballot as there is no way to take him off with the printers having already done their thing.

In fact, legally Article 47 of the Law of Ukraine states a candidate can withdraw only up to, and no later than, 18 days prior to the election date.  That date would have been 7th October, with Mr Kivalov withdrawing on 10th October and thus not only is legally obliged to appear on the ballot, he remains a legal contender.

Thus despite his announcement of no longer running, some people will still vote for him, and those votes will count.  (The only way off the ballot now for those upon it is to be found guilty of grave crimes, renouncing Ukrainian citizenship, or a slight case of death before polling day.)

The question is thus remains whether enough will vote for Mr Kivalov to split the Trukhanov vote to the point of forcing a second round of voting?

Any second round would therefore be between Trukhanov and probably Eduard Gurvitz.  Despite Sasha Borovik having some momentum in the polls, for a previously unknown candidate to seriously challenge the Trukhanov vote with only a month of campaigning is really on par with fanciful thinking such as riding a unicorn, jumping it over a rainbow, and landing in a pond of caramel syrup amongst the scantily clad, nubile young ladies of the Odessa beach volleyball team, when considering the realms of probability.

That said, Mr Borovik is guaranteed to enter the City Council and become a spanner in the works of the nefarious goings-on for the next 2 years (or for as long as he decides to remain).  If he becomes a local governance transparency mogul and recongised corruption whistle blower during those 2 years, alongside promoting sensible local policies, then a far stronger run beckons only 24 months(ish) from now.

The Governor’s advisor is surely not going to be a loser regardless of result in his first throw of the dice in the local politics of Odessa.  The interesting question is what constituency base he will have to build upon post the elections of 25th October.

Governor Saakashvili also has a man within the Guvitz camp (Dmitry Sashkin) on an “advisory basis”.  This for a candidate that has been Mayor twice and a runner four times, one can only wonder what advice can be given to Mr Gurvitz over an election campaign to an office he knows intimately.  One suspects something of a small “side-bet” by the Governor “just in case”.

All of that said, the current incumbent Gennady Trukhanov looks certain to remain mayor.  Ihor Kolomoisky will be pleased having him backed him in the previous elections and being behind him once again.  Their shared nefarious interests at the ports secured for another two years it appears.  Organsied Crime can relax a little.

Indeed in the clear absence of Solidarity Party cash and electoral machinery behind the Borovik campaign, and the lack of tacit (hedging) support for the independent Gurvitz campaign from the current political ruling elites, a decision has obviously been made to not seriously contest another Trukhanov (Kolomoisky) term as City Mayor.  Such a decision it has to be said, will have been taken at the very top – probably by Borys Lozhkin.

Meanwhile the highly organised (and very pleasant) Maria Gaidar looks fairly certain of winning her seat in the Oblast Rada – which will be no bad thing depending upon what committees she then ends up upon and how much influence she gains or loses vis a vis that she has now as part of the Saakashvili Administration.  (One has to suspect she will be placed on the right committees and will do very well though.)

Thus these and other leading lights of the Saakashvili advisory/administrative team will be democratically inserted into the political life of Odessa before the Governor moves on – and he will certainly move on sometime before May 2016.  Probably sooner rather than later.

To where he will move, who can say?  The much muted “Prime Minister Saakashvili” is a possibility, but it would depend upon who else is on the table.  If “Prime Minister Natalie Jaresko” is on the table, then forget the Saakashvili option.  She is domestically far more popular, a far safer and predictable pair of hands, and a Prime Minister that would cause no waves of discontent in any capitals west or east.

Simply for the entertainment value, Attorney/Prosecutor General Saakashvili has a chaos appeal, undoubtedly causing earthquakes within the establishment that continues to operate with impunity above the law – which is why it is very unlikely.  After a perceived as failed lustration process and three terrible Attorny/Prosecutor General appointments in 18 months, an acceptance that neither President Poroshenko nor Prime Minister Yatseniuk are not at all serious about tackling corruption amongst the highest echelons of Ukrainian political/business society is fairly clear to all despite –  their continuous rhetoric to the contrary.

To challenge those widely held negative perceptions requires not one, but half a dozen of the very biggest of fish to be fried and/or a willful, visibly independent and thus politically uncontrollable AG/PG appointment – neither of which seem very likely to happen.   As has been written before, the current leadership can only take Ukraine so far due to mutually held kompromat upon each other, and thus new leadership unsullied amongst the oligarchy cesspit will have to complete the journey for Ukraine.

Therefore what will be the next role for Governor Saakashvili currently remains unclear – as does any replacement for him.

Whatever the case, the mayoral, city and oblast elections are likely to see only a marginal improvement in the quality of democratically elected representatives.  A few more better candidates in and a few more poor candidates out – but not enough to significantly tip the balance away from nefarious and feckless governance toward transparent and constituency first governance.

Amongst the many reasons for this, remain the refusal of parties to purge themselves of their worst, a distinct lack of electoral manifesto, and more broadly a distinct lack of identifiable ideology to attract a strong party membership that would provide a strength and depth from which to pull good candidates, and the lack of foresight in realising that 26th October, the day after the next elections, is in fact the first day of campaigning for the next elections which will be but two years hence – where actions now will speak far louder than words then.

Nevertheless, in such an ocean of fecklessness, the competent will float upon the surface and clearly stand out.  Perhaps they will take it upon themselves to drive some identifiable internal party policy in a local context – eventually.


Recycling bad rubbish – Ukraine

September 18, 2015

Within the nefarious and feckless world of Ukrainian politics it pays to know the odious from the…….odious.

Back in early July 2015 this following tweet was made by the blog:

And so it comes to pass that on 17th September the resignation of Ms Timchenko was duly rendered.

There can be no surprise.  This is a woman whom managed to remain listed as a serving civil servant of Ukraine whilst living in the UK for years.  During those years she was enmeshed within the nefarious activities of Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov whose alleged many frauds are pending due process within the UK judicial system.  (She also managed to acquire a very nice home in lovely leafy Surrey and another in Cannes via the usual offshore corporate smoke and mirrors.)

Following her (inappropriate) appointment to find and return assets of the “Yanukovych family” there are undying rumours relating her nefariousness in several murky incidents – such as the sale of oil at a reduced price that was confiscated from Sergei Kurchenko, a member of “the family” whose assets she was employed to track down and return to the State.

There can be no surprise that her resignation of the 17th, (complete with accusations of obstruction by those in government frustrating her role) follows the opening of a criminal case against her on the 16th September under Article 366 of the Criminal Code.

Article 366. Forgery in office

1. Forgery in office, that is putting any knowingly false information in any official documents, any other fabrication of documents, and also making and issuing knowingly false documents by an official, –

shall punishable by a fine up to 50 tax-free minimum incomes, or restraint of liberty for a term up to three years, with the deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term up to three years.

2. The same act that caused any grave consequences, –

shall be punishable by the imprisonment for a term of two to five years with the deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term up to three years.

Are there any surprises that her alleged offences would fall within this Article considering historical associations and accusations?

For those that know their truly odious from their generally odious within Ukrainian politics, none of this is a surprise and all of it entirely predictable.  It is perhaps surprising only insomuch as she only remained in her position for slightly longer than 2 months – longer would have been anticipated by many.


But as unsurprising as this is, it again raises the question as to why the Ukrainian political elite are intent upon recycling bad rubbish that will continually embarrass and undermine the image it tries to portray.

There is of course the transitional issue regarding old elites, vested interests and how to negotiate their peaceful and permanent release of power and departure from politics vis a vis what concessions are made and nefariously acquired assets/interests they are allowed to keep (and de facto or de jure amnesties should they accept any deals).  Within this there is an element of keeping some of “their people” within the system for a period of time.

There is the issue of evolutionary reform over what always is perceived as an unnecessarily protracted time frame and is generally unsuccessful, verses revolutionary reform which is robust, swift, is usually more successful, and is generally accomplished whilst the constituency is expecting both reforms and hardships that come with them.

There is perhaps a case for engaging the poacher turned gamekeeper in specific instances (with the necessary deals behind the curtain) and perhaps Ms Timchenko was one such case – until she allegedly continued with her nefarious and fraudulent activities.

Whatever the reason to appoint Ms Timchenko, it was not one of chance.

Yet it is the scale of recycled and knowingly bad political rubbish within/by the reformist political clique which continues to baffle both at a national and local governance level – which gives the perception that the nefarious but experienced remain preferred to inexperienced but genuine individuals on far too many occasions, especially if the positions are given where the outcomes of doing so are entirely predictable.

Time will tell who fills the role Ms Timchenko has now vacated, but there must surely be any number of financial investigators without such questionable history’s.


A small case of re-nationalisation – Odessa Port

August 3, 2015

Following along rather nicely from yesterday’s entry in which the State Fiscal Service was rightly castigated for being endemically corrupt and predatory, today saw the SBU raid Odessa Port and seize State property.

Why would the SBU, a State agency, enter Odessa Port and seize State assets?  Can the State seize State assets, or is that simply a statement of nonsense?


The reason is simple.  The State Fiscal Service, has been illegally leasing State equipment to private enterprises.

To be exact, it has been leasing loading and unloading equipment to private enterprises.  This in turn obviously deprives the State of the revenue associated with loading and unloading, whilst transferring it to certain “private enterprises” that clearly won’t be paying tax for using State assets it should not control or use.

Quite where the “lease” revenue for control/use of these State assets has gone remains to be seen – undoubtedly not to the State, as their should be no “lease” from where revenue would come.

Somebody within the State Fiscal Service (and their associates) has just lost a very nice illicit earner.

Undoubtedly Vasyl Hrytsak who ordered the operation will be pleased with the result.  Equally happy will be Governor Saakashvili, who will see it as added justification for his targeting of the ports and the associated widespread and major corruption within.

As stated yesterday – “do not be surprised when 1st November arrives and a new customs system operates at Odessa Port, to see the State Fiscal Service and PGO offices on the port side close, leaving only newly minted customs officials on site.”

This can reasonably be expected to be one of the few cases of “re-nationalisation” of State assets under the current government – quite rightly too.

As something of a bonus, the SBU whilst there stopped a truck leaving the port, the contents of which had “missed” customs entirely with a value of UAH 10,000,000 ($450,000) – Not a good week for the State Fiscal Service, with more bad weeks ahead undoubtedly.


Mykolaiv police chiefs move to Odessa

July 31, 2015

It appears Giya Lordkipanidze, one time Deputy Interior Minister in Georgia, and now Odessa Oblast Police Chief, will imminently have a new set of department heads for the Oblast and the city.

Appointed as Deputy Chief of Police Odessa City, is Alexander Martynov.  Until recently Colonel Martynov was head of the serious crime investigation department of Mykolaiv Oblast.

The new head of the City Police criminal investigation department is Major Taras Pedak, previously employed within the Serious and Organised Crime department for Mykolaiv Oblast, heading the terrorism and extremism team there.

With regards to Odessa Oblast, (rather than the city of Odessa), Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Baklanov who headed the Mykolaiv Oblast Serious and Organised Crime department is now to become the Deputy Police Chief of Odessa Oblast.

Vitaly Vdovichenko will become Deputy Chief of the Oblast criminal investigation department, having served until now within the Mykolaiv Serious and Organised Crime department.

Mykolaiv it appears, now has vacancies to fill following these officers successful applications for the above roles in Odessa.

All very good – insofar as it goes.

Importing experienced investigators, as these men clearly are, from a neighbouring Oblast is a fairly reasonable thing to do.  They arrive without any nefarious ties to the local, and increasingly entrenched nefarious Odessa elites, and yet possess a fairly good understanding of the Oblast’s geography, as well as local, regional and national policing issues from day one in their new jobs.

If, as the saying goes, a fish rots from the head downwards, then a new head may if not stop the rot entirely, at least slow the decay in the body, allowing the body to be effectively treated.

Thus we return to the tired but nonetheless still critically relevant 3 themes that dominate the past months within this blog that are vital to the reformation of both Oblast and Ukraine – rule of law, institutional/administrative structure and sustainability.

New heads to the regional institutional policing structure does not equate to a structure that is designed for quality and/or efficient policing.  There are a number of policing units/divisions/departments that can have their specialisms (and officers) incorporated into others reducing management requirements and associated turf wars over areas of competency overlaps and budgetary demands.

As Odessa under its current Governor seems extremely keen to host as many pilot projects as possible, then perhaps it is the Oblast (given the very watchful eyes of external and influential supporters that currently gaze upon it) to restructure its Oblast policing as yet another pilot project.

There is a pressing requirement to address the individual policing needs of various districts within the Oblast, and where necessary to create temporary district teams to address certain issues robustly before dissolving those teams once those issues are addressed.


In short, the “hot spots” and “hot policing priorities” of Ismail are not going to be the same as those in Liubashivka.

If, for example, juvenile crime is a major problem in Illichovsk, and agricultural theft is a problem in Brezivka, then clearly a bespoke police response is required to deal with those specific issues in a direct, focused, and timely way.

Thus a streamlined, efficient policing structure (compared to that which currently operates) is required, but one that is also flexible enough to deal with, and be seen to deal with, diverse local issues in a very timely way.

Local area policing plans are both preventative, responsive, and also bespoke to the local area.  They should form part of the Oblast policing plan.  The regional plan sets out the policing priorities within the Oblast and identifies the specific areas raised in LAPs.

That Oblast plan should be a publicly available document, for policing occurs (best) with the consent (and understanding) of the constituency.  Society is more supportive when it understands what any policing effort is trying to do – particularly where they actually live and the local concerns it seeks to address.

Structure and sustainability.

Nevertheless, the introduction of police chiefs that are not contaminated by the local elites (yet) is a welcome move.

Unfortunately the swift replacement of local prosecutors seems somewhat more difficult for the Oblast due to a distinct lack of local applicants without potentially problematic associations.  It is perhaps necessary to cast (and actively promote) a wider net once again.

Then there is the issue of the courts – no doubt subject to numerous future entries depending upon the outcome of Constitutional change.


A wide angled lens look at the “Mukachevo incident”

July 13, 2015

Grabbing the headlines over the past day or so has been the (currently on-going) incident between Right Sector and the State in Mukachevo.

To briefly zoom in, the incident concentrates around cigarette smuggling, criminality and collusion of regional officials therein.

It resulted with Right Sector taking the law into their own hands, people being shot and police cars being blown up by RPGs.  The result, death, serious injury, and currently Right Sector members negotiating their disarming and surrender via MP Dmitry Yarosh.


They will claim, perhaps with a good deal of justification, that informing or complaining to local MPs such as Lano, Boyko or Homutynnik would be entirely pointless given their close proximity to the corruption and criminality of the region.  The regional governor is rumoured to be even more closely involved, as are several police officers and a judge or two.

Questions will be asked of the regional SBU as to how there was no intelligence regarding this Right Sector action on the radar.  After all, only a few days ago President Poroshenko stated publicly that the nation was awash with illicit arms and that there was a high chance of terrorist activity.

It is perhaps entirely the wrong question.  Whilst some things can happen rapidly defeating the possibility of gathering actionable intelligence, other intelligence matters have existed for years.

The question should be why the SBU, that undoubtedly has a substantial amount of intelligence upon the smuggling, criminality, and links to regional officialdom, has not acted.  These criminal rackets and the collusion of regional officials have existed for many years.  It has not suddenly appeared from nowhere.

Had the State policed the State as the State has promised to do, would this incident even have occurred?  If actions had matched rhetoric, the answer would probably be “no”.  That such blatant institutionalised criminality still exists unchallenged is a failing of the State to deal with the regional corruption that flows in all peripheral fiefdoms.

A few ad hoc arrests, but no attempt to seriously confront the underlying criminal structures, will not change anything – particularly when those arrests have thus far failed to put a single notable public figure in jail.

Nevertheless, the rule of law regarding the Right Sector actions must be applied.

Right Sector (or anybody else) cannot be allowed to shoot people or blow up police cars without legal consequences – even if their action was to deal directly with the continuing complete lack of legal consequences for criminality and blatant collusion within the regional officialdom.

It has to be said, the list of those senior corrupt officials “lustrated” in western Ukraine, is not much longer than the list of those senior corrupt officials “lustrated” in Odessa.

Any perceived justification for Right Sector actions in Mukachevo however, does not in any way equal legitimacy.  Thus those concerned must face the rule of law, probably outside the jurisdiction of the western oblasts, and rely upon the above perceived justifications as mitigation for their actions when any ruling is passed down.

However, the rule of law machinery cannot be allowed to end there.

There are still the criminal issues to address that Right Sector acted directly, albeit unlawfully, to confront.

The State has an obligation to thoroughly investigate the events that preceded the incident – and those events and those concerned – including those of the regional institutions – have to be seen to be judicially dealt with too.

The likelihood of regional governors, regional intelligence chiefs, police chiefs etc., resigning are slim.  There are few politicians, institutional heads and leading civil servants with the integrity to voluntarily resign – and with some of those having colluded with the criminality anyway, resignation is simply not enough.

Both Ukraine and Russia are awash with illicit weapons that entered the east of Ukraine and either seeped out of the ATO zone into Ukraine, or were smuggled back into Russia by Russian organised crime.  Both nations, as predicted when events in Donetsk initially unfolded more than a year ago, will have to face a well armed criminality, vigilantism, and “underground movements” as never before – and find a way to disarm or retrieve the illicit arms.

Hopefully the immediate on-going incident in Mukachevo will be resolved without further bloodshed.  However, the Cabinet of Ministers and in particular the Ministry of Interior and SBU have a real need to look at themselves regarding their “fight” against corruption.  If the strategy is to simply arrest corrupt officials now and again (and perhaps some will eventually go to jail) then that does not come close to tacking the criminal structures closely aligned to/involved in State corruption in many cases.

That this incident has occurred will not be a surprise to many of the “enlightened”.  The specifics and the location are somewhat irrelevant, for it could have been anywhere.

The international diplomatic community (those that get out of their offices anyway (UK, USA, Sweden, Poland etc)) will not be surprised at all.  Their time in the regions is not entirely spent with nibbling canapés, meeting political leaders and doing photo ops.  Many speak to journalists off the record, bloggers, NGOs and (often swivel-eyed) activists.  They reach out for the input the political class don’t and won’t provide.

Thus not only do the Ukrainian central leadership know who is doing what and with whom as well as the structures surrounding them (and by and large ignoring tackling the structures thus far), so do numerous embassies, and by extension numerous capitals.

Ergo, whatever benchmark Kyiv may think will meet domestic and international expectations regarding its “fight” against corruption, it would be fair to say both domestic and international audiences are likely to have very different benchmarks.

The upshot of this incident is that it should not only be Right Sector individuals involved that rightfully and unquestionably end up in jail.  Criminal and colluding political and institutional individuals have to be held accountable before the law too.

A policy to target structures and not simply (5 minute headline grabbing) individuals will have to be developed and actioned if similar armed incidents are to be avoided.

Tick-tock, tick-tock!

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