Posts Tagged ‘tax code’

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Time for the annual tax tinkering – Ukraine

October 26, 2016

Certain things are traditional in Ukraine when it comes to the New Year.  Among those perennials are changes to the tax system.  Indeed “с новым годом” could be a secret code for inevitable tax system tinkering.

(For example 1st January 2015 brought about changes to the Tax Code as required by the IMF when Ukraine was desperate for money.  As it no longer is IMF dependent, clearly it can be expected that the political will to further meet IMF requirements will evaporate within the Verkhovna Rada – though not necessarily within the Cabinet or Presidential Administration.  The February 2017 tranche may never arrive.)

tax

This year Draft Laws 4117 and 3357 submitted by Chairwoman of the Verkhovna Rada Tax and Customs Committee Nina Uzjanina look set to try and (radically) change the tax system once again.

Naturally there is nothing wrong with policy (and any associated legislative) change as long as that policy is will be effective rather than ineffective – and certainly not counterproductive.  In this particular case, to be blunt, if these drafts laws are passed then for them to be effective there would ideally be a period of education as to what the system is, how it works, and the responsibilities of taxpayer and State within it.

Hence 1st January may traditionally be an ideal time to adopt a new Tax Code or amendments to it, but attempts at changing that Tax Code in November with so little time for “education” is probably not such a wise move.  This is perhaps particularly the case when part of the draft legislation effects a move from a “paper” tax administration to “e-tax” administration for commerce across the entire nation.

There is no need to go into any of the proposals within the draft legislation in detail when there are some fundamental questions to ask first.

A reader will perhaps be reminded of the still on-going debacle that is the e-declaration for the higher echelons of those holding public office.  (Although it is a good bet that almost all those required to make such e-declarations will do so, it is what follows thereafter regarding system functionability, legality, security, and those repercussions upon criminal liability that are far less certain.)

The most obvious question regarding a national e-commerce tax system is whether the entirety of its commercial entities have access to “e”, or rather the Internet.  Not only with regard to Internet coverage but also access to the hardware to actually comply with any e-commerce tax declaration.

(Who pays for the hardware will become a very prickly social/business issue too – especially for the very small business outlets.)

The next question, on the presumption the entire nation is “on-line” and possesses the relevant hardware, is whether they will actually understand the e-commerce system, and if they do, will their customers who may require (or simply) want “paper” as a result of their transaction?

Also, no differently from the e-declaration system, there will be big questions relating to data security, system integrity and reliability, and in this case actual tax payment confirmation – or not.

If the system is compromised due to poor security, how to insure the data only not missued but also is not wiped by those that nefariously enter?  How much tax would be lost between the time of the last system back-up and eventually getting it back on line?  Is Ms Uzjanina proposing a “high side” system used by literally millions of “low side” users in such a system?  Not an impossibility of course, but it would require a filter that prevented “high side” being sucked out through “low side” as the IoT is becoming quite a hazardous place when it comes to defending system integrity.

How much would all this cost?  Undoubtedly Ukraine will adopt such a system sooner or later – as it should – but is it a priority?

Arguably it could be said it will assist in bringing the black/grey economy into the white – if the system infrastructure (both hard and soft), policing, and the business will is there to facilitate it.  If that were the case the argument is that it would therefore swiftly pay for itself.  It would also remove a lot of person to person interaction with the tax authorities thus theoretically reducing opportunities for corruption.

Nevertheless, societal perceptions count, and many will ask if there are more pressing priorities for the limited budgetary funds that have to be met in the immediate term?

Needless to say if these draft laws are adopted (despite some questionable detail deliberately omitted here)  it would certainly be wise to allow for the parallel running of both paper and e-systems for a (fairly lengthy) transitional period  – not only for technical reasons, nor the fact that not all commercial enterprises will have the ability to comply with an e-system, but also for business and societal familiarity to occur.  In fact is there a reason that both systems could not or should not run?  Would it be prudent to run both?

As usual New Year approaches and Ukrainians have come to see tax legislation as inevitable as socks, aftershave and style-less jumpers/cardigans as part of the festive season.  This year is clearly no different.

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Drafting national budgets without rallying the troops – Chicken Little

December 2, 2015

The Ukrainian Ministry of Finance, who thus far has done very well under the stewardship of Natalie Jaresko, has published its draft law for the national 2016 budget.

It makes several (arguable) assumptions within its foundations – as it must.  There has to be a peg (or pegs) planted firmly in the ground from whence to work.  That one or all of these pegs may prove to be misplaced only time will tell – and tell it will very soon with regards to one of those pegs – the 2016 budget working upon the presumption of the new and pending tax laws being passed.

Undoubtedly the 2016 budget it will not be popular – particularly with the populist politicians.  Less popular however, are the proposed new tax laws around which this budget is based – once again particularly amongst the populists (and certain vested interests).

That said, in which nation on earth are taxes and budgets not bemoaned and lamented?

2016 is a year that swift and sweeping reform has to be delivered by the political class of Ukraine if it is to survive, lest society and civil society simply leave it behind, the external “friends of Ukraine” dramatically reduce their support for and work within the political class, instead working with a civil society and society that is for the most part a far, far more willing and far less obstructive partner to work with.

For some, the proposed new tax laws don’t go far enough.  For others they go too far.  Some some they are not nuanced enough, for others the much sought simplicity it offers is well worth the shortcomings elsewhere.  Time will again tell.

The biggest and most immediate problem facing the new proposed tax laws – and thus the 2016 budget by extension -is that the government of Ukraine has done a spectacularly bad job (again) of selling it to their party members to support.

chicken

With only a few weeks in which to adopt these tax and budgetary laws, time to win over the many parliamentarians in all parties that are less than keen, is short – but then Ukraine always does things at the last minute (often literally – which is at least a source of entertainment within social media as the usual cyber “Chicken Little’s” frantically type that the sky is (again) falling in).

With the New Year holidays swiftly approaching and the parliamentarians wishfully looking at their calendars and the approaching last day of school/Verkhovna Rada session (rather than carefully looking at the legal text upon which they vote), there is perhaps some hope for a more timely adoption of these two critical bills – for the budget by law must be passed before 2016 begins and it may well be that the parliamentary session will be extended to accommodate the law.

But are the parliamentary holidays, and the threat of being kept behind, enough to force a vote through the Verkhovna Rada?  Maybe.

However, the much respected (at least in Ukraine if not in necessarily in the USA) visit of VP Joe Biden in the very near term is likely to see the Verkhovna Rada on something close to its best behaviour – or at least trying to hide its dysfunctionality.  Indeed Prime Minsiter Yatseniuk has jettisoned his scandal surrounded chum Mykola Martynenko prior to VP Biden’s visit having done nothing but defend him until yesterday.  (Be assured that Yatseniuk’s People’s Front Party will vote to agree to Martynenko’s resignation , and thus with others, the 226 votes required to accept his resignation (jettisoning) will be met.)

Ergo, a clever Speaker may be inclined to insure that the Verkhovna Rada programme tackles some (necessarily) difficult votes whilst Mr Biden is in Ukraine, rather than descend into (perhaps ugly) dysfunctionality.  Budget, tax laws and reforming public administration laws being of the uppermost priority – not withstanding decentralisation laws and judicial reform being somewhat urgent too.

There is perhaps a little more chance of passing these two laws (and hopefully a few more prickly laws as well) with the combined weight of the VP Biden visit and a pressing holiday calendar a little earlier than the last day of parliament.

Then again, perhaps not.  Ready the “Chicken Little’s”!

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Where to cut UAH 60 Billion(+) from the 2016 budget?

October 20, 2015

November seems likely to be shaping up as a very feisty month within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.

Firstly some legislation seems set to be strong-armed through those feckless parliamentarians relating to outstanding, and Visa-free preventing, laws that require adoption – amongst other more critical legislation.

It is amongst these others, to which this entry wanders.

Specifically the budget for 2016 will be submitted to, and hopefully passed by, the Verkhovna Rada.  Also major reforms to the tax laws will be submitted and are required to pass if for no other reasons to move away from the corrupt and unwieldy mess that currently exists.

But there are problems with these two issues that will undoubtedly make the populist contingent of the Verkhovna Rada recoil quite (metaphorically) violently.

budget

Ukraine is to produce a 2016 budget of -3.7% to fulfill its obligations to the IMF.  Generous credit must be given where generous credit is due – both Ministry of Finance and the NBU have stuck doggedly to their task as agreed with the IMF throughout 2015.  Despite the national pain, to be quite blunt, there is little other choice whatever the populists may state.

However, the preferred new tax legislation (if passed) will immediately deprive the government of about UAH 60 billion in revenue.

Thus, UAH 60 billion in reduced tax revenue naturally equates to UAH 60 billion in budget cuts to meet the IMF budget deficit obligations for 2016.

Both defence spending and debt servicing have been publicly ring-fenced already, so clearly no cuts will be coming from there.

This was perhaps anticipated by recent events and recent moves within the Ukrainian elite in yet another sickening display in an attempt to keep guzzling State subsidies by way of grotesque and illegal attempts to quietly privatise entities associated with the ring-fenced defence sector.

As defence is ring-fenced then subsidies and government investments will continue in that sector – thus the odious and nefarious attempt to privatise the Institute of Electrical and Mechanical Devices in Kyiv is a sign of things to come.  It is an institution that is part of high-tech development within the Ukrainian military industrial complex, and was to be privatised in a grubby and nefarious deal for UAH 16 million.  The land in Kyiv this institution sits upon is worth UAH 80 million without accounting for the assets of the Institute.

hopkohopko 1

Fortunately, the courts have arrest 94.4% of the shares to prevent the sale – but what if anything will happen to those from the State Property Fund and within government that opaquely and nefariously attempted this privatisation?  Probably nothing!

Some readers may ponder the morality of the individuals involved when attempting to quietly privatise an entity that is part of the Ukrainian defence industry which remains “at war”, and at a cost far below even the value of the land upon which it sits, simply to insure continued gorging upon government subsidies in the years ahead as other subsidised sectors disappear.  Little has changed within the cesspit of power in Kyiv it appears.

Returning to the 2016 budget however, what to cut?  Where to cut it?

Apart for ending subsidies across the board, there must be a dozen, perhaps two dozen taxes that cost more to administer than the revenues they generate – and thus simply should end.  Likewise there will be State delivered bureaucracy that delivers nothing more than bureaucracy at a cost far greater than its regulatory worth or benefit (hindrance would be a more accurate description) to society.

If ending subsidies is a requirement for State survival, then clearly tax exemptions need fall under the microscope too – and tax exemption is an area where agricultural tops the league.

Very prickly issues for any government – let alone for one with a small military war going on within its territory, and far larger wars on the political, diplomatic and economic fronts emanating from the same aggressor.  This before considering the internal destabilisation of the State caused by the vested interests of the oligarchy and highly corrupted officials.

So prickly the issues, and such is the conundrum, that the Ministry of Finance has asked politicians, journalists and experts to help identify areas where government expenditure can be cut during 2016 – no doubt to soften the political backlash when cuts are actually made, but perhaps also to find areas which it has otherwise missed during its own evaluation..

It would perhaps be helpful to know what the current draft budget for 2016 looks like, and the annual UAH/$ rate to which it is roughly premised upon.

To use last years budget as a template considering it was something of an extraordinary year is perhaps questionable.  It seems certain that UAH 30 billion of NBU redistribution will not be the same – if there is any at all in 2016.  There will be no UAH 24 billion from the interim import duties that disappear from 1st January.  Gone will be UAH 5 billion in taxes from gas production due to a reduction being an IMF commitment.  There is no UAH 9 billion generated from 3G licensing in 2016.

Will the expected privatisations of State owned entities raise a similar amount to the numbers listed above?  If Odessa Port Side and Centrenergo are the stars of the first round of privatisation, then the answer is clearly “no”.

Those tax gains of 2015 mathematically become tax revenue losses in 2016 that account for more than the UAH 60 billion the new tax legislation will remove from the budget – thus are we perhaps talking about a decrease in tax revenue of UAH 120 billion when these things are added together?

That culmination (if reasonably accurate) would be about a 25% tax revenue cut to the government in a single year.  Is that even achievable without the State collapsing?  If it is achievable, then for sure there is good reason to do it and take the severe pain in 2016 to deliver a far better outlook in 2017 – but it can it be done with such rigor as to meet the IMF budget deficit obligations?

This in no way even begins to account for the populists within the Verkhovna Rada that will want to increase spending on populist things.  Unsurprisingly they will not offer areas to cut expenditure when stating there must be increased expenditure – for that is not what populist politicians do.  Perhaps there should be a requirement when the Verkhovna Rada wants to make populist changes to the budget, to state exactly how such changes would be financed.

What if the Finance Ministry’s proposed tax legislation is voted down in the Verkhonva Rada?  Does that not effectively save UAH 60 billion in current tax revenue?

Aside from going some way to simplifying the tax system, the idea of the proposed tax legislation is to move more of the black/grey economy into the white.  Thus killing these proposed legislative changes in parliament will condemn the nation to at least another year (if not longer) of unnecessarily complicated and corrupt taxation, whilst insuring that a huge portion of the black/grey economy remains that way.

Heated debate within the Verkhovna Rada in November seems assured – the outcomes however, far less so.

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Budget 2015 Ukraine – coming soon (before 2016 anyway)

December 30, 2014

Last night, and in to the early hours of this morning, saw the RADA debate and then pass the budget for 2015 – sort of.

To be blunt, quite what it passed is somewhat fuzzy.  Numerous amendments were agreed in the session, thus what was submitted on paper, is not what was passed.  What passed is seemingly based upon little more than verbal agreement.  How substantially this submitted document will have changed when the amended budget is eventually published remains to be seen.

Indeed, Prime Minister Yatseniuk stated after the vote on the budget – “To be fair, this budget, as well as all the previous budgets adopted in these walls, is far from being perfect, this is why we’ve included a requirement to conduct a mandatory review of it until Feb. 15” – inferring a great deal can still change, even regarding the verbally agreed amendments that saw the budget pass.

Thus whilst the law requiring an annual budget be passed prior to the New Year (budgetary period) may have been satisfied – technically – what has passed is not set in stone, is subject to a revision process until 15th February, and may yet contain numerous verbally agreed amendments that allow the budget to pass – or not.

All somewhat underhand and/or a shambles.  Ukrainians will not know the actual content of the 2015 budget until 15th February at the earliest it appears.

What will probably not change are the foundational assumptions of the budget.  It foresees the country’s GDP at minus 4.3%, nominal GDP at UAH 1.721 trillion, inflation at 13.1%, and the exchange rate at UAH 17 per U.S.$.  Wishful thinking perhaps – but a peg in the ground nonetheless.

Whatever the case, whatever passed through the RADA, has resulted in the IMF very swiftly announcing that its Mission to Ukraine will return on 8th January, remaining until the month end.  “The IMF is moving expeditiously to continue discussions with the Ukrainian authorities on the IMF-supported economic reform program aiming to stabilize the Ukrainian economy and restore sustainable growth.”

Plenty of time to influence the 2015 budget that is – but actually isn’t – prior to 15th February window, when tinkering, adjusting, and changing what will actually become the budget, closes.  Indeed the first quarter of the budgetary year may have passed prior to there actually being a defined budget adopted.

Particularly grim, is the (perhaps little more than notional at present) recognition that the Naftogaz Ukraine deficit could reach UAH 31.5 billion in 2015 – a painful line item in every Ukrainian budget.

As has been written here many, many times over the years – it is time to kill off this particularly odious and toxic beast.  This State behemoth has to be butchered.  It’s breakup is almost a prerequisite to supporting the State budget – not withstanding it is a font from which a great deal of corruption flows.  If there is an expectation that in meeting EU energy regulations, that the corruption pervasive within the Ukrainian energy sector, and that hangs heavily around Naftogaz, will somehow be miraculously cured without the Naftogaz sacrifice at the alter of necessity, then there are some especially deluded policymakers.  Chopping it up into business units that can be either privatised or retained, or both, results in a more manageable, more transparent, more “issue insulated” structures.

Whatever the case, it appears that entering into 2015, Ukraine has a budget that is – but isn’t.

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RADA Timeliness – Or not!

December 25, 2014

Yesterday, the law intended to expand the scope of powers held by the National Security Defence Council, and thus by extension its Secretary, Olexandr Turchynov, failed by 3 votes to pass through the RADA.

Whether or not the NSDC, and its Secretary, require further powers is a matter of debate, both politically with regard to the power dynamics between Poroshenko, Yatseniuk and Turchynov in the immediate, but also long term, the consequences when those with alternatives views come to power.  And power Trinities are, of course, topical at this time of year.

For those that have placed some hope on the actual genuine independence of the new National Anti-Corruption Bureau, acknowledging the convoluted method of its conception and lead appointments, there is text within the law expanding the NSDC powers that are of concern.

Is it possible to have a politically independent body when the current pending NSDC law states it will assume “coordination and control of the executive authorities in combating corruption.”  If the newly formed NACB, via elaborately convoluted systems to give the appearance and perception of genuine independence from political office and government, is to become subservient the the highly political NSDC when its powers are expanded, why bother with extravagantly convoluted selection processes or creating perceptions of genuine independence?

Why, in fact, is there a desire to have a power vertical regarding the issue of corruption, when numerous overlapping horizontal structures are far more difficult to corrupt?

Whatever the case, the law expanding the scope and powers of the NSDC, and Mr Turchynov, will be returned to the RADA tomorrow and is likely to pass the vote this time.  Whether or not any glaring issues amongst the text, such as that highlighted above, are amended or removed before tomorrow’s vote remains to be seen.  Is there the time to amend or remove when it seems the Prime Minister is deliberately trying to push a metaphorical legislative camel through the eye of a needle regarding time.

Aside from ramming through serious legislation regarding national security, The RADA is also legally required to pass a 2015 budget prior to 2015 – naturally.  As has been written previously, if the 2015 budget is based upon a raft of changed, amended or introduced legislation, then in order to prevent putting cart before horse, the legislation upon which revenues for the budget is based necessarily should be passed first.

This eventually seems to have dawned on the Cabinet of Ministers – who have now decided to try and ram through 44 legislative changes prior to the submission of the 2015 budget on 30th December.

yatsIn 6 days, these 44 legislative changes, plus the changes to the NSDC, and a lengthy and technical budget are meant to be submitted, debated, amended and summarily passed?

Seriously?

This is part of the reforms, a new way of governance?  What has previous been a theatre of the absurd in governments past, remains a theatre of the absurd?

Having spend 6 weeks putting together a lengthy majority coalition agreement at the expense of functioning parliamentary time, the result is to be a legislative “business as usual”?  A “business as usual” where very few MPs read anything that they are voting for, but vote “for” because they are told to?  This compounded because there is now not the time to carry out parliamentary procedures properly before year end?

The causal effect regarding credibility, domestically and regionally regarding commitment to democracy is raised by this farce?

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The 2015 Budget (Again)

December 22, 2014

About a month ago, an entry was published regarding the 2015 budget for Ukraine – an entry that given the current exchange US$/UAH exchange rate, undoubtedly underlines the NBU sentiment at that time as being more than a little optimistic.  The Hryvnia has further devalued against the US$ since then, as was fairly clear to many that it would.

With the headline budgetary decision likely to be 5% of GDP going to the defence sector, approximately UAH 86 billion, and the Ukrainian military industrial complex already working in overdrive with some facilities working 3 shifts 24/7, all would appear to be good – except Ukraine still has to purchase and import high-tech lethal and non-lethal weaponry too, and a weak Hryvnia makes those imports more expensive – no different to anything the nation imports.

Whatever – this entry is not directly about currency exchange, imports, exports or inflation, even though it is about the 2015 budget.  More to the point, any optimistic (or otherwise) underlying exchange rate upon which any 2015 budget is notionally based, can have no impact when there is still no adopted budget for 2015.  The Law of Ukraine requires any sitting government to submit, and parliament debate, amend and ultimately pass, any annual State Budget prior to the budgetary period beginning – namely 1st January.

Now it has to be said that regardless of any previous close runs/overruns relating to this law – generally the entirely fictional State Budgets are passed prior to the statutory deadlines.  That, however, was then – and this is now.  Now, something less than entirely fictional is required.  Now the IMF requires something less fictional.  Now the World Bank requires something less fictional.  Now the EBRD requires something less fictional.

Much more to the point however, a good number of cross-party RADA MPs require something less fictional too, or they won’t vote the budget through.  Many are demanding that budgetary decisions that specifically effect “committee x” from amongst the 27 RADA committees, are allowed to debate that specific part of the budget within the affected committee.  There are then the Institutions of State and the need to reach a consensus amongst MPs as to what budgetary cuts are applied and where.  (One can hardly help but to suggest the immediate culling of the Ministry of Information Policy as an obvious saving.)

What of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau?  According to those that dwell within the bowels of the RADA, it as yet does not appear within the 2015 budget.  Thus far nobody (presidentially preferred foreign national) has been appointed to head it, and it would appear to have no funds due to currently not being on the budget, even if a foreigner is found to head it.  It is not an agency that can be postponed until “better times”.  Can there be a worse possible start to a National Anti-Corruption Bureau than to have its funding opaque because it didn’t appear in the 2015 budget?  An entirely avoidable situation.

More fundamentally though, what sort of budget will it be when going behind the numbers?  An oligarchy/big business friendly budget – or a “little person”/SME friendly budget?  Is it much more necessary to support those that employ huge numbers of Ukrainians and account for a significant percentage of GDP for the next 12 months, probably to the public angst, or to have a budget that is friendly to the rest of us who are already crowd funding the military, paying “War Tax” from the interest on savings that remain in Ukrainian banks, and daily buying medical supplies from pharmacies to donate to both the front line and Ukraine’s ever growing IDP population?

Should a “progressive taxation” law be introduced (the more you earn, the more you pay) considering the extremely fragile economic state of the nation?  Such a law can always be repealed in the future.  Indeed there are a raft of taxation possibilities – from increases, to exemption in the case of donations to the military or IDPs.  If this route is to be taken, should these decisions not be taken, and laws introduced, prior to any budget?  Is it wise to put the budgetary cart before the taxation horse, to then find the horse does not pass through the RADA?

Having spent 6 weeks after the RADA elections creating a multi-party coalition agreement and in effect slowing to glacial any RADA work during that time, should there now not be an equal amount of time spent working on a (transparent) budget worthy of the name – even if to do so, the 1st January passes without a budget?  Which is the worse precedent?  To bundle through yet another economic fairytale that will be based upon shifting legislative foundations and comply with the law even if in doing so what is produced is utter (and unworkable) fiction, or submit something half decent, if slightly late contrary to legislative timetables?

With a maximum of 8 working days remaining, can and will anything approaching a genuine, realistic budget pass through the RADA after necessary debate – or will the budgetary 2015 begin no differently than any of the other preceding 23 years of an independent Ukraine – line item after line item of opaque, grotesque fantasy?

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Nobbling Klitschko – A who dunnit!

October 26, 2013

Back on 1st July this year, I wrote this regarding the pending Constitutional difficulty Vitali Klitschko’s presidential bid would certainly face – Article 103 to be precise.

In short, a matter of residency in Ukraine for the past 10 years as per constitutional requirement to run for the office of President – an issue I expected to haunt him going forwards.

At the time I wrote –  “I would also not assume that it would necessarily be Party of Regions who would raise the question either.  Should Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party not be the single opposition nominated candidate, I would not discount “somebody” within the Batkivshchyna Party trying to disable the Klitschko candidacy so a Tymoshenko puppet will run as the opposition candidate.”

It should therefore come as no surprise that yesterday a bill was introduced in the RADA that makes things almost impossible for Klitschko to run – as if things were not already constitutionally difficult enough.

It relates to Amendment 76 to The Tax Code and states “if a person has the right to permanent residence in a foreign country, such a person is considered to be one that does not live in Ukraine.”

As has been reported in the Ukrainian media, Klitschko holds permanent residency in Germany.  By his own public admission he pays taxes to Germany.

So which dastardly Party of Regions MP has sought to introduce this amendment and make it almost impossible for Klitschko to run?

The answer is none of them – possibly.

This amendment was allegedly introduced by Ihor Brychenko of the Batkivshchyna Party – subordinate of Ms Tymoshenko and Arseniy Yatseniuk, one or the other of which will benefit greatly from Klitschko’s disqualification from the Presidential campaign.

Needless to say, immediately this Amendment was entered into the RADA, Vitali Klitschko announced his official candidacy for the 2015 presidential elections – he had no choice – the timing of any such announcement taken out of his hands.  It is one thing to erect barriers to a potential run that may or may not happen, but another to erect them once a candidate directly effected by any legal manipulations is already, officially, in the race.

In circumstances such as these, those who frame the debate first – and robustly – normally win the public debate.  Any further legal manipulation Klitschko will certainly frame as direct interference with his now official presidency bid.

Unfortunately that public debate may now be about supposed political allies, where one opposition party is trying to nobble the candidacy of the leader of another – or shenanigans by  Party of Regions trying to create as much damage as is possible, publicly inflicted, by supposedly allied “democratic” parties on each other for as long as that lasts.

But as always, things may not be as it seem – Arsneiy Yatseniuk claims the amendment to the Tax Code was falsely submitted by Party of Regions under the name of  Ihor Brychenko, and not by his hand as claimed – though that will not undo Klitschko’s statement in the RADA officially declaring his run for the Presidency.

His announcement to run undoubtedly removes any chance of a single opposition candidate – unless he remains constitutionally barred by reasons of residency and Article 103.  It is probable that Tymoshenko will not be able to run due to conditions of any partial pardon and subsequent release, which Mr Yatseniuk states she accepts –  leaving Yanukovych verses Yatseniuk.  Yatseniuk being by far the weakest opposition candidate.

Depending upon whom the public choose to believe, some could be forgiven for getting that “Orange” deja vu feeling already.  At least the last time they fell into dysfunctional, poisonous politics amongst themselves it was after being elected, rather than before.

If they believe Yatseniuk, then the usual Party of Regions electoral manipulations are already underway.

I forget just how many times I have written about the current opposition parties joint and individual ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but let us hope this is not the beginning of yet another attempt to do the same and it is indeed a Regions conspiracy.

Opposition unity remains a necessity – even if by Klitschko’s announcement that means multiple opposition presidential candidates who must then somehow separate themselves politically and ideologically in a presidential campaign without damaging the opposition alliances.

If Batkivshchyna are behind this turn of events, eyes must be rolling, and brows wearily furrowing within the European People’s Party in the EU parliament – with both UDAR and Batkivshchyna being members –  as they begin to watch their Ukrainian members, claiming the label of “democratic forces” in Ukraine, try to disable candidacies through legal manipulations rather than democratic means.

This entire sorry tale comes down to nothing more than whom any individual chooses to believe – and I long ago stopped believing any of the two major parties prima facie.  Whichever side any reader chooses to believe, to me, matters not.

What matters is that is happened at all.

Nevertheless, I did warn of forthcoming underhand tricks to nobble Klitschko back in July.  Seemingly, they have now started to arrive – and when the PoR and Batkivshchyna knives eventually combine, in concert or individually – whomever you believe in this current farce, a Klitschko run for the presidency looks to be set with traps and hurdles from all sides – over and above those already existing in the Constitution.

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