Posts Tagged ‘Tigipko’

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Points make prizes – but is the prize worth having?

October 22, 2014

With the RADA elections now only 5 days away, some thought should perhaps be given regarding any new coalitions and cabinet of ministers that will follow.

Way back on 24th/25th July an entry was published that stated Volodymyr Groysman would become Prime Minister after the forthcoming RADA elections as long as he didn’t drop the ball – and he hasn’t.  President Poroshenko will naturally want one from his stable as PM – and one he trusts, despite Arseniy Yatseniuk doing a decent job in very difficult circumstances.

Ergo, how effective that crystal ball gazing so many months ago will prove to be, is about to be seen in either illuminating and prophetic glory, or embarrassingly poor light.  That such an old entry has been resurrected so close to the elections may be rightfully inferred as that belief remaining – on the assumption that Volodymyr Groysman would want and accept the role of Prime Minister.  It remains something of a poisoned challis that demands an effect first 100 days when all is said and done.

However, Block Poroshenko is not likely to come anywhere close to a RADA majority – a coalition will be required to hold a robust majority.

The question is then not only with whom, but which party would accept a coalition in which the party leader does not become Prime Minister?

It is almost guaranteed that Ms Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna will not be invited into any Block Poroshenko coalition.  You either work for Ms Tymoshenko, or against her – you do not work with her.  A more zero sum politician is hard to find, making her an extremely difficult partner.  Ergo any coalition involving Ms Tymoshenko could be expected to find her demanding to become Prime Minister and thus leading to a repeat performance of the feckless and wasted Yushenko/Tyoshenko years notable for in-fighting and squandered opportunities.

A coalition with the “Opposition Block” is simply out of the question for more reasons than it is necessary to list.

Gritsenko’s Civic Platform?  Probably not – even if he would be content to fill a Cabinet roll such as that of Defence Minister, which he has previously held.  Would he demand something more lofty?  Probably.

Would Arseniy Yatseniuk’s Popular Front form a coalition with Block Poroshenko, even when Yatseniuk himself would suffer a perceived demotion?  It is a possibility, but what position to offer Yatseniuk?  He is certainly a very clever man and capable of holding numerous positions.  A return as Speaker?  Deputy PM with a European integration port folio?  He is certainly well known and liked amongst those who will continue to financially and politically support Ukraine.

Tellingly, Yatseniuk refused the Block Poroshenko mandate, preferring the Popular Front run alone – a sign perhaps that a longer term view with future presidential elections are a consideration.  A case of being close, but not close enough to Block Poroshenko to be indistinguishable for future leadership contests.

What of Sergei Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine?  Such a coalition would certainly be perceived as reaching out to the eastern regions in a tangible way.  Tigipko is also a capable man.  Whether he would settle for a role other than Prime Minister is the question.  Deputy PM with a social policy port folio?  It would tick many boxes for him personally and instill a little more confidence in the east.

Ukraine’s version of Vladimir Zhirinovsky – the bellicose populist but otherwise empty shell that is Oleh Lyashko and the Radical Party?  He certainly believes that he will be King Maker – but will he?  Could a suitably airy and apparently important title be found for a man incapable of holding a serious and/or sensitive role?  Could a glorious title for a position of little influence be found?

The Self-Help party?  If it gets over the 5% threshold, it seems a realistic contender as a coalition partner.

Will a coalition of Block Poroshenko and one other party be enough to secure a robust majority – or will it require a trilateral coalition?  If it takes 3 parties for a sturdy majority, which 3 can work together effectively?

What of the shadow power building spanning party lines?  How much of a consideration will the generous – but not evenly applied – sprinkling of Sergei Liovochkin’s people throughout most parties effect which party is approached first by Block Poroshenko?  Will “shadow influence” be a factor in any decision making when it comes to accepting or mitigating Ukraine’s grey cardinal?  What of the chess games behind the political facade between Liovochkin, Poroshenko and Kolomoyski?

How easily will it all fit together if the prediction that Volodymyr Groysman will become the next Prime Minister is to be the non-negotiable starting point of any coalition building?  Points make prizes – but the prize has to be worth having for competitors when they are deliberating forming a coalition with Block Poroshenko – and coalition party leaders expect big hierarchical rewards for their allegiance.

Is this blog’s exceptionally fortunate legacy of success when peering into the Ukrainian political crystal ball about to get it wrong – and very soon?

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A purging of the pro-EU Ministers or a significant ideological split?

December 24, 2012

Smart readers will recall I wrote this at the beginning of November relating to “Who’s in and who’s out?” – It was aimed specifically at Valery Khoroshkhovsky and Poroshenko.

By 16th December, Khoroshkhovsky resigned from the Ukrainian government as I had predicted, citing the returning of Mykola Azarov to the position of Prime Minister as the reason.

As I wrote in that post “For now it is Khoroshkovsky and Poroshenko to keep a watchful eye on…..” – and that remains the case – but also we should now look to those close to Khoroshkovsky in the year ahead as well.

A quiet, much needed, slow burning. internal revolution within the PoR may just have started!”

Well, over the weekend, Sergiy Tigipko has stated he will also not be part of the new Cabinet of Ministers although will remain an MP.

Both Khoroshkovsky and Tigipko are very much front and centre pro-EU Party of Regions heavyweights and very “EU orientated” reformists.

The question is, as a new Cabinet of Ministers is due to be announced within the next 48 hours, will there be many, if any, such “EU orientated” heavyweight reformists left within the next Cabinet of Ministers?

If the likes of Poroshenko also state their desire to leave the cabinet, or are simply not reappointed, the pointed, jabbing internal finger within the Party of Regions relating to all things EU will be severely blunted.

Returning to my point about a “much needed, slow burning, internal revolution withing the PoR”, then it may very well have been quite accurate.

Tigipko’s reasoning for not wanting to remain in the Cabinet of Ministers, as stated by him live on national television is “Now it’s very important for the Regions Party to deal with ideology.”

It seems that the pro-EU and pro-Russian elements within the Party of Regions are about to lock horns in what may be a very slow, painful and ultimately disastrous battle for the PoR  – the pro-EU heavyweight reformists making their positions quite clear by removing themselves from the highest offices in the land, one by one.

It could be quite an interesting year ahead should genuine ideology catch on within the Party of Regions.  Two very distinct camps will emerge, both with some serious money and very public figures within them championing their respective causes!

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Tigipko – Stating the obvious!

August 27, 2012

There are a few things that all good politicians can do in any nation on earth.  The first is deftly avoid answering a question, the second is manipulating statistics in an attempt to add credence to their position, and the third is to make an address or speech without reading it and sounding like a robot or a 7 year old stumbling along in front of an elementary reading class whilst managing to stick to the text.

All necessary qualities for today’s modern mealymouthed, over-educated, under-experienced from university to retirement, career politicians (in the UK at least).  Indeed in my lifetime, back in the UK, I anticipate watching the careers of those who left university and immediately entered the Palace of Westminster in some guise or another and will eventually become MPs in “safe seats” and thus spend their entire working lives in that building (baring the occasional constituency visit around voting time).

In Ukraine, however, there is a distinct lack of “professional politicians” as Sergey Tigipko pointed out on his Facebook page on  Thursday.  A fact that he laments.  As if nobody in Ukraine was aware that very few would pass as credible politicians in most other nations.  Stating the obvious!

His criticism was not aimed at the opposition during electioneering alone but also at the government of which he is a part.

To save you finding the entry on his Facebook page and then translating it, I’ve done it for you:

“I think that, first and foremost, Ukraine lacks professional politicians. Here, as they say, ‘a fish rots from the head down.’ This concerns both the government and the opposition.

There’s a lot of populism. There’s little understanding of what to do in economics, the social sphere, culture and education.”

Well, all quite true and again stating the obvious, but “professional politicians”?  Competent politicians would be a far better prospect and competent, honest, politicians with integrity would be outstanding – amazing even!

Unfortunately Mr Tigipko  and his party “Strong Ukraine” lost a lot of support when it merged with Party Regions.  Until that time he and his party were seen as a reasonable alternative to both PoR and BYuT, so much so, that he finished a very comfortable 3rd in his first ever attempt at the presidential elections.

It also has to be said that when I was sat with one of our more senior chaps from HM Embassy Kyiv not so long ago, we played the “who’s in and who’s out” of favour game relating to the current government, and when Tigipko was discussed it was agreed that he is actually one of the very few politicians who actually sounds and acts like a politician that could fit into any parliament of any nation.  He is a very good speaker and clearly at ease when doing so.

In case you wondering, Tigipko fell into the “necessarily in” but “out” category when it came to absolute confidence from those above and around him.

Actually not such a bad place to be if a diplomat wants a sensible conversation with somebody at the top of the Ukrainian government if he is seen to be “in” but not so “in” to be tarred with the same brush as others who are seen to be completely and absolutely “in” regardless of the nefariousness involved.

Those shades of grey are important in such matters.

Anyway, Tigipko is right that the state of Ukrainian politicians leaves more than a lot to be desired in the vast majority of cases, and is thus stating the obvious although not under a title I find particularly appealing – but – making such statements after all parties have filed their party lists with the same incompetents he is complaining about, would seem a statement made some time after the horse has disappeared over the horizon with the gate still swinging in the breeze.

Still, as things stand today, as I have previously written, it looks very likely it will be his incompetent colleagues in power again come the end of October.

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Ukraine – “Countries in transit” – Freedom House Report

June 8, 2012

Well Freedom House has just released its “Countries in Transit” report of which Ukraine is one.  Quite where Ukraine is transiting too is debatable, though there must be an assumption that Freedom House feels Ukraine should be transiting towards democracy – or if not democracy, certainly a set of basic fundamental human rights and protections thereof.

As I have previously written, whilst it is often politically expedient for politicians to compare nation A with nation B in an effort to state “At least we aren’t as bad as Country B” as some form of justification and legitimacy for their own policy failings, what really matters in comparisons is how Country A stands today in respect of how it stood historically.

That is what matters to the people who live within Country A.  Is it better or worse than before?  It is after all, possible for Country A to decline internally but still climb a Freedom House ranking because new counties have been added to the numbers, or other countries have declined faster than Country A.

So, we will leave the somewhat flawed picture that politically expedient international comparisons toss out to the populous as mitigation for their own policy failures, or the media for headlines that will sell copy, and look at how Ukraine has done in the past decade according to Freedom House vis a vis Ukraine.

It should be noted that the best possible score allocated by Freedom House is 1 and the worst is 7.

It is rather grim reading to see that Ukraine has been backsliding on almost every front, not with the current government alone, but also quite obviously under the last one as well, since 2006.

Now one could put the perceived improvements recorded in 2006 down to great expectations of the 2005, rather than an accurate reflection of reality, following the Orange Revolution.  That is the problem with opinion based surveys.  They tend to be emotional rather than reality based and therefore bias unintentionally or deliberately either through the slant of the surveyor, the surveyed, or both.

One can ponder if there has ever really been very much improvement whatsoever during the past decade, and whether the perceived improvement immediately following the Orange Revolution was nothing more than great expectations.  The relative slide backwards thereafter across most of the board was the slow dawning of the realisation that, in fact, nothing has changed since ex-President Kuchma.

Thus today’s overall score of 4.82 compared to a Kuchma score in 2003 of 4.71 maybe interpreted to be the reality that all illusionary bubbles and Orange Revolution hangovers have now, eventually, evaporated.  The population polled for this survey now realise there was actually no improvement between 2003, as shown by the consistent ebbing of hope during the tenure of the past, and present government as displayed in the above table.

If interpreted that way, it is certainly time for the new political faces of Yatseniuk, Tigipko and Koloevska to step forward and replace the old guard if there is to be another positive bump in perception across the above categories.

The question is, should that actually happen (and Ukraine not sentence itself to more years of Yanukovych or Tymoshenko), can they actually change anything? – Or would there still simply be another 2006 spike followed by yet another decline as reality set in?

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Social initiatives – How to reduce orphan numbers in Ukraine (and other things)?

February 2, 2012

Ukraine is well known to those in the western world for many things.  Beautiful women, gas disputes, stoically holding up so many nations in so many international league tables by under performing, and sadly Ukraine, like so many former Communist nations, is also known for orphans.

Now it is popular to believe that this is due to the death of parents but that is just not so.

Ukraine currently has 96.000 orphans and is adding approximately 10,000 each year.  Predominantly this figure is reached not by death of parents but by the State arbitrarily removing parental rights.  That is not to say there are necessary reasons for the State to intervene in certain circumstances, there is and always will be times when the State must carry out its duty to protect the vulnerable.

However, what is patently clear from the remarks of Sergey Tigipko in the above link, is that there is insufficient State assistance in keeping families together in the first place, and secondly a woeful lack of State encouragement when it comes to fostering or adoption within Ukraine.

Now it is quite right and proper for this issue to be raised but the question of financing both the State support and support for prospective foster/adoptive parents will undoubtedly prove to be difficult to provide during a time when revenues are low.  (See yesterday’s post)

It is of course, not the only area in Ukrainian society that is underfunded and under resourced.  Choose any category of vulnerable people, disabled, battered women, mentally ill etc. and a similarly overstretched public purse presents the major barrier to effective remedies by government alone.

Generally Ukrainians are very friendly people and theirs hearts, for the most part, are certainly in the right place, but you have to wonder where the voluntary sector of Ukrainian society is.

For sure it will exist but there is no overt presence.  There are no community action awareness broadcasts on television to rouse those who would rally to a cause donating either time or money.  Radio is just the same in its lack of promotion of such issues.

The only community awareness  programme that really comes to mind is that for the use of contraception to prevent the spread of HIV.  That is regularly broadcast on most television channels but is also, in a large part, due to international funding from the UN, EU and some domestic revenue by Ukrainian government.  It is of course as worthy a cause as any other and overtly promoting prevention rather than cure is absolutely the right thing to do and far cheaper in the long term.

You may argue that contraception is a personal responsibility when it comes to the prevention of contracting or spreading sexual diseases and you will have a point.  The abdicating of personal responsibility to the State is an issue that runs throughout society not only in Ukraine.  You may wonder why so many $ millions are spend reminding educated Ukrainian people of their personal responsibilities  over such obvious issues as sexually transmitted diseases and risk reduction through use of condoms, when a child should not be responsible for raising itself or a disabled individual be held responsible for ramps into shops, transportation that accommodates wheelchairs etc.

I cannot answer those questions and I do not hold the purse strings to aid when it comes to international or national funds or causes.

What I can say is that there is a quite noticeable lack of promotion when it comes to causes, a noticeable lack of promotion of these issues and any local organisations that are involved with such causes within local government to encourage local people to get involved however they can.  There isn’t even a list of such organisations on the Odessa City website when to be quite honest, I could create such a web page and link in under 10 minutes given the content.

So, whilst worrying about how to finance and promote the plight of orphans, maybe Mr Tigipko would do well to start with the basics and collate a list of causes, relevant NGOs and voluntary institutions applicable to each region and instruct all city and town councils in Ukraine to promote them through all avenues available to them?  A volunteer is far better than 10 pressed men as the saying goes, but where do people volunteer?  Surely that is a starting point and surely a completely obvious one!

Come along Mr Tigipko, of all the completely useless politicians across all parties in Ukraine, I didn’t have you in that category.  In fact until Strong Ukraine assimilated borg-like into the PoR, there was hope that Strong Ukraine and Front for Change would eventually replace the recycled Soviet corrupt and self-serving remnants of the political hangover that is Bloc Tymoshenko and Party of Regions.  For certain both Arseney Yatseniuk and yourself seem to be the only options to the existing exceptionally poor choice between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko (who are equally unpalatable as each other).  Surely you are capable of compiling a list regionally and forcing the regions to promote them.  Society may surprise you and help lift the burden from the State without throwing huge amounts of money at the problem until Ukraine is in a position to throw huge amounts of money at the problem.

As for me?  Well I am about to email HM Embassy in Kyiv as well as Odessa City Hall and find out if they have any such list for Odessa and if so, as if by magic, a suitable permanent web page to this blog will appear on receipt of any such information!

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From King maker to Prime Minister to……..? Tigipko

August 17, 2011

Way back during the presidential election campaign of 2009/10, I tipped Sergey Tigipko to become king maker between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko.  I turns out I was right which makes this read rather well now (in prediction if not grammar).

Since that time, Mr Tigipko has joined the PoR government as a coalition partner with his Strong Ukraine party as Deputy Prime Minister.  To his credit, he has criticised both some PoR policy and the entire parliament publicly on numerous occasions when they have failed to live up to international obligations to the IMF.

He has also, very wisely, said nothing publicly about the on-going circus surrounding Ms Tymoshenko and related court proceedings.

However, he has no decided to amalgamate/merge his Strong Ukraine party (which collected 13% of the vote at the presidential elections) with PoR rather than be a coalition partner with them.

Now of course that will severely dent any hope of standing in the next Presidential election in 2015 independently, particularly as Yanukovych will stand for reelection and get the PoR backing.

However, October 2012 is the parliamentary elections which even in a free and fair environment and no shenanigans look likely (as of today) to return a PoR majority, albeit somewhat reduced.

When Prime Minister Azarov took on that position, it was a poorly kept secret that PoR anticipated him being a safe pair of hands during the economic situation but either before or after the 2012 elections, he would stand down from the post to allow for a more dynamic and possibly reformist, candidate.

Quite frankly, he was the suitable grey and uninspiring Prime Minister needed for economic turmoil but not the face to launch a determined reform agenda with the ability to sell it to the public.

Tigipko is certainly the latter and no slouch in the economics arena either.  He once headed the National Bank of Ukraine and has been the key man in IMF negotiation.

Now, looking at time lines, a six or seven year stint at Prime Minister, allowing for Yanukovych to serve two terms as President, would give him an ideal platform to turn from king maker to Prime Minister to President in the space of 10 years.

So, my next prediction following my success as nominating him king maker, is that he will become Prime Minister of Ukraine sometime between October 2012 and January 2014.  Probably sooner rather than later.

It is far too soon to confidently speculate further but it would be worth a small bet on him becoming President by 2021.

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Ukraine must stop foreign borrowing – Azarov‏

July 25, 2011

Well you did wonder when Ukraine was going to mirror the political divides of the US, the UK and many other EU nations over the issue of debts and deficits.

It seems Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov would take an extremely cautious and conservative view. “We have to restrict, or maybe even completely suspend foreign borrowing, and have to be extremely careful while issuing state guarantees” (on commercial loans).

He is of course quite right to have concern over the effect the current US failure to reach agreement over its debt ceiling will have on a global scale. That will pale into insignificance come October when the US delivers (if it does) a budget for the next year that will not address debt or deficit to market satisfaction.

He is right to concern himself over the Eurozone issues as the latest agreement seemingly sets the stage for the creation of a EMF (European Monetary Fund) quite similar to the IMF. That though will mean major national and EU structural legal changes which may or may not get passed relevant nations parliament or referendums if necessary/held.

Now is probably not the right time to go rushing into the international market borrowing money with such immediate uncertainty ahead. Much more will be apparent by the end of the year with regards to the likelihood of the legal creation of something like the EMF and also the reaction globally to the US budget in October.

With record reserves of about $37 billion, even if it cost $15 billion in government spending before the end of the year, quite possibly that is a wise course than to borrow from the markets at the moment.

The Prime Minister’s position does seem to put him at odds with Deputy Prime Minister Tigipko who is insistent that continued and speedy IMF borrowing should occur.

To be fair to Tigipko, whether Ukraine needs the money or not, it does need to shed the huge subsidies it gives the public when it comes to utilities and which is a key condition of further IMF lending. Irrespective of the money, sticking to the IMF agreement provides the discipline to achieve what otherwise will not get sufficient political backing to get through the RADA. Public ire can always be partially deflected towards the IMF when all is said and done whilst it remains a key condition of the future loan installments.

There are pros and cons to both arguments of course. There are always pros and cons with any decision. Still, at least the issue has appeared as a blip on the Ukrainian radar.

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