Posts Tagged ‘Tymoshenko’


Onishchenko – The politics of sacrificing your own

July 6, 2016

The 5th July saw the Verkhovna Rada vote to strip MP Alexander Onishchenko of his immunity (and impunity) and provide for his arrest by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) – naturally as is almost always the case, not before he had left the country.

In fact, so long has it taken for this event to occur – weeks – Mr Onishchenko could have walked to Austria where he currently is apparently, in order to avoid arrest.  Trail in absentia seems likely for Mr Onishchenko, albeit his co-accused in alleged nefarious natural gas scams may not all manage to escape the clutches of Ukrainian law enforcement.

Undoubtedly Mr Onishchenko will attempt to avoid extradition (when requested) from Austria with political persecution as the grounds to frustrate Ukraine.  It remains to be seen if such attempts will be successful, or alternatively whether a quick dash to Russia awaits.

Nevertheless, the Verkhovna Rada parliamentarians managed, the “Old Guard” somewhat begrudgingly perhaps, to raise enough votes to support the NABU request to arrest Mr Onishchenko (if they ever get the chance).

As MP Alexie Goncharenko stated (the blindingly obvious) following the Onishchenko vote, it is now time for the Verkhovna Rada to once and for all raise the 300 votes to remove MPs immunity en masse (pursuant to a long since submitted Bill to do just that which was then passed at its first reading) to prevent the continuing farce of votes to remove immunity long after those parliamentarians (or judges) to be arrested have left the country.

Whether Alexie Goncharenko actually believes his own rhetoric, or whether it is simply a populist statement easily made in the recognition of a very unlikely scenario of a successful 300+ vote is difficult to gauge.  On balance, knowing Mr Goncharenko for some years, in this case he probably believes in what he says – rather than using such rhetoric to create a PR bubble to raise his profile in the immediate term as he tends to do every so often.

However, what was far more interesting than the outcome of the vote to strip the immunity of Mr Onishchenko and allow his arrest (which was always likely upon the first NABU request), were the antics of Ms Tymoshenko and the Batkivshchyna Party before, during, and after the vote.

Mr Onishchenko has long been rumoured to be a major backer/financier of the Batkivshchyna Party.  Perhaps not a shock to readers that a man now wanted for allegedly nefarious gas dealings would finance a party led by a woman of an allegedly similar background.  Vested interests therefore for Batkivshchyna, Yulia Tymoshenko, and the “sympathies” of many of the “Old Guard” that are also entirely absent integrity and untainted criminal histories that may yet resurface.

Normally Ms Tymoshenko wastes no time in speaking for the Batkivshchyna Party from the podium within the Verkhovna Rada.  Indeed it is especially easy to do when spouting populist flapdoodle that will simply not get the traction within the Verkhovna Rada voting chamber, but can be pushed into the media for the purposes of pre-election populist electioneering.

However, it is not particularly comfortable as the Party leader to stand at a podium and announce that the Batkivshchyna Party position is to vote to remove the immunity and allow the arrest for corrupt gas practices of a long term party financier.  After all, those corrupt practices may very well have been financing the Party a reader may suspect.

The problem being for Ms Tymoshenko, to be seen to vote against the first ever NABU request to the Verkhovna Rada as a political party that claims to want to fight corruption would also never do.


Very unusually therefore, and in what may be inferred as either a politically sly, or morally weak (or probably both) moment, Ms Tymoshenko had the ever faithful Sergei Sobolev take on the role of an unwilling Judas and announce the Batkivshchyna Party voting line position at the Verkhovna Rada podium.  Her absence at the podium cannot fail to have gone unnoticed by regular political on-lookers.

Further, of the 19 Batkivshchyna Party parliamentarians present, only 9 actually voted.

Clearly Ms Tymoshenko, to maintain the facade of anti-corruption warrior voted against the interests of her party financier.  In mitigation, and obviously with her explicit or tacit consent, the “Old Guard” of her party either did not vote whatsoever, per MPs Serhiy Vlasenko and Boris Tarasyuk failing to enter their voting cards into the machine when the vote took place, Hryhoriy Nemyria registered an “Abstain” in the vote count, and Alexander Kuzhel was recorded as absent – despite being present and lounging around in the Presidential Chair in preparation to block the workings of the Verkhovna Rada for the rest of the afternoon post the Onishchenko voting.

(For the record, 273 MPs voted to allow the prosecution of Onishchenko, 265 for his detention, and 263 for his arrest – Yes readers, it took 3 votes to allow NABU the legal parameters to fully do their job regarding Mr Onishchenko.)

Immediately after the voting, as the above paragraph infers, Ms Tymoshenko returned to the Verkhovna Rada centre stage to announce that Batkivshchyna was joining the long running, albeit sporadic, Radical Party blocking of parliament.

The Radical Party blocking of the functioning of the Verkhovna Rada relates to a long-standing call to create a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into (implicitly President Porosehnko’s) offshore entities and associated corruption and/or tax avoidance.

Its attempts to create the said investigative entity were not supported by enough parliamentarians – its cause not helped by its own leaders demand to lead the Commission of Inquiry.  It is enough that Oleh Lyashko is the Verkhovna Rada resident clown – every circus has one and the Verkhovna Rada is indeed (at times) a circus – but it is not necessary for that circus to make the clown the headline act, particularly when it is the clown demanding he be so.

The Radicals, true to their populist form (without ever offering sensible alternatives/solutions) are also demanding a reduction of gas tariffs (the raising of required by the IMF upon which Ukraine is dependent) and a new law stipulating where domestically produced gas must be used.


Ms Tymoshenko who remains the undoubted Queen of Populism (and of absent policy) also makes great pains to raise the gas tariff issue (despite having agreed when PM to raise prices in a similar deal with the IMF, to then break that deal and subsequently lose IMF funding), and having moments before seen her Party financier left to a rule of law suitable only for the likes of the hoi polloi, decided her Party will join the Radicals in preventing the Verkhovna Rada from functioning – there has to be a political cost to nobbling her Party financier after all.

Thus Alexander Kuzhel could not vote to unseat the Party financier (and therefore was saved voting against a longtime ally)  because he was involved in preparatory legislation blocking acts being sat in the President’s Chair and unable to vote from his own voting booth.  Returning heroine of Ukraine, Hope Savchenko, sat in the Speakers Chair (perhaps not a wise move on her part), and Yulia Tymoshenko, together with Radical leader Oleh Lyashko blocked the podium.

A reader may note that Ms Tymoshenko probably has no real interest in a parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into offshore shenanigans, shell companies, trusts, tax avoidance et al as advocated for by the Radical Party.  The Ukrainian media is historically replete with details of Czech, Greek, Cypriot entities tied to her, as do US court documents from the Lazarenko case after all – notwithstanding any “Panama-esque” issues current or future.

Suffice to say that the gas tariff issue that seemingly only now warrants joint action with the Radicals in preventing the functioning of the national legislature, but previously has been portrayed solely a Batkivshchyna cause in its orchestrated PR/media framing, is but a convenient cover for exacting a political price for the political demise of Alexander Onishchenko.

How long this coalition of physically blocking the functioning of the national legislature will last remains to be seen.  How long will Ms Tymoshenko want to be seen working with the court jester?  How long can the court jester suffer the ego of Ms Tymoshenko?  Therein perhaps is the answer.


Coalition stresses

January 3, 2015

At the end of last year, (last week), an entry was published about the budget that is (but isn’t) for 2015.  In short, enough was done to allow the government to enter 2015 technically within the letter of the Ukrainian law, and also providing the IMF with enough grounds to return to Ukraine on 8th January.

The budget was passed by a vote of 233 MPs.  Not a particularly robust number, but enough, after the promise to revisit and amend the budget prior to 15th February.

That so many MPs present did not vote for the budget, to be blunt, is fair enough.  Amendments were orally accepted on the day of the vote, to what was already acknowledged as something far from perfect.  All MPs were asked to vote on a document that contained none of the orally agreed changes, for there was no time to change the document and resubmit it before the vote.  Thus, it is very difficult to be overly critical of MPs who did not vote for a non-existent definitive budget document.  Indeed it is as easy to be critical of MPs who did vote for budgetary document that did not exist.

Whatever the case, enough was done to meet the requirements of political expediency on that particular day – which is no way to govern a nation of course.  Yes there is a war on-going in eastern Ukraine, but that is not a universal excuse for the trashing of procedure and protocol at every juncture for the sake of political expediency – and it is certainly no way to set a political foundation for reforming a nation.

It is clear from the current budget – as notional as that may be until 15th February – that the necessary butchery of Naftogaz Ukraine is not going to occur in 2015.  It is also clear from the budget that the much touted decentralisation of certain powers to the regions is not going to occur in any meaningful way during 2015 either.

Indeed, amongst many other important issues, it seems unlikely that 2015 will see the RADA MPs successfully vote to remove their immunity (seemingly they being lost somewhere in the gap between non-liability and inviolability) either.

The problem with several major proposed reforms (as well as meeting some of Ukraine’s (now ratified) obligations under the EU Association Agreement) is that the Constitution requires changing to accomplish it.  Changing the Constitution will not be easy – even with a coalition Constitutional majority.  Amendments will have to be submitted, debated, undoubtedly submitted to the Venice Commission for review (either by those “for” or “against” any specific changes), and eventually, perhaps, garner a constitution changing vote count in the RADA sometime before the end of 2015.  October at the earliest – prior to 2016 if the winds blow favourably.

However, it is the issue of holding together a constitution changing majority – and therefore the current coalition – that returns us to the 2015 Budget vote, when looking forward.

Little has been stated anywhere, that amongst those that did not vote through the budget (that isn’t), was Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party in its entirety.  Not a single vote from a Batkivshchyna Party MP was cast in favour of the 2015 budget – despite the ramifications for Ukraine had it failed to pass with regard to the IMF returning.

It has to be noted, of course, that a quick count around the RADA prior to the vote will have informed Batkivshchyna whether there was enough MPs willing to vote through the budget without their help – thus allowing for a “principled position” to be adopted without detrimental effect to Ukraine.  Has there not been, perhaps the Batkivshchyna position may have been different.

Such a ploy is often seen at UN votes.  It is not unusual to see “Nation X” vote in a way that would seemingly be far from in its political leadership’s interest – though voting in such a way would curry favour with powerful nations from which it may gain concessions – in the full knowledge that the issue will be subject to a veto, and thus the favourable perceptions can be presented, whilst the implications never impacting.

However, it may also be that Ms Tymoshenko is struggling to suppress her inherent  populist nature.  It may be that simply being part of the rank and file, albeit the leader of the smallest party in parliament, is simply not good enough for her ego.  As has been written here many times historically, in Ms Tymoshenko’s world, people work for her, or against her – but not with her.  At some point she will inevitably default to populist type, and claim to be “the voice of the people”.  By extension, the coalition majority will then either be “for” her, or “against” her – and thus “for” the people, or “against” them.  The consequence, perhaps, Batkivshchyna leaving the coalition.

Therefore, as giant reforming legislative leaps are not going to happen tomorrow – and neither should they be expected to, if they are to be of a quality that will serve the nation in the years and generations ahead – can the majority coalition, that will require all Batkivshchyna votes to be a Constitution changing majority, keep Ms Tymoshenko (and Batkivshchyna) within the coalition until the year end at least,  which is probably the earliest we can seriously expect any major legislative leaps to occur?

Naturally, the war in eastern Ukraine and constitution changing aside, there are a great many small but necessary steps Ukraine can and should take, whilst dealing with the biggest reform issues methodically and sensibly – though accomplishing even small genuine reform steps is going to require continued and sustained political pressure from the west.

A question for the beginning of 2015 however, is how to interpret the Batkivshchyna (Ms Tymoshenko’s) actions/inactions during the vote for the budget at the conclusion of 2014?  A principled position knowing it would not effect the outcome of the vote, or a sign that Ms Tymoshenko simply cannot control her ego for much longer?

Though there are clear strains between President Poroshenko’s block and Prime Minister Yatsneiuk’s People’s Front, they are perhaps far more manageable behind closed doors than they actually appear.  Perhaps we should be looking toward any possible coalition unraveling, and the potential loss of a constitution changing majority, elsewhere.



And what of the (major) oligarchs?

April 2, 2014

I write this entry in the midst of some rather disastrous technical difficulties that have completely removed what I had planned to publish today – along with pending comments, spam and trash and anything else written but unpublished.  I strongly suspect the error is not entirely technical, but the problem can be found somewhere between keyboard and chair.  My infamous lack of IT skills strike once more!

Anyway, onward!  I shall instead I will swiftly offer a few less than erudite thoughts, rattled off in haste before fate determines this entry too is aborted prior to its delivery.

After looking at yesterday’s entry, quite obviously there are really only a few strong presidential candidates – as much as Darth Vader becoming president of Ukraine would appeal for a brief and juvenile moment.

Interestingly, no sooner had the Petro Poroshenko, Solidarity/UDAR pact been announced, did Sergei Liovochkin publicly endorse it.  This is interesting not because he was an advisor to Viktor Yanukovych – that is irrelevant – but because he is a very close ally of Dmitry Firtash.

Reading between the political lines, this would certainly appear to be endorsement from Group DF for the Poroshenko/Klitschko. Solidarity/UDAR pact.  No doubt many will see it as such.

It therefore raises the questions as to what Rinat Akhmetov and his SCM vehicle will do.  They are unlikely to be that keen to see Mr Posorshenko and Solidarity/UDAR do outstandingly well given the Group DF endorsement.


Whilst both Dmitry Firtash and Rinat Akhmetov may have been Party Regions oligarchy, that in no way removes the competition between them.

However, it seems extremely unlikely that Mr Akhmetov or SCM will back Yulia Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna – though hell may indeed freeze over one day.

Considering that Mr Akhmetov has seemingly decided Party Regions will keep a low profile at this election and thus Mikhail Dobkin rather than Sergey Tigipko or Yuri Boiko has been forced/endorsed as Party of Regions presidential candidate to lead them toward the electoral abyss they are to face, it leaves Mr Akhmetov in a somewhat difficult position.

His options seem limited to frustrating the Group DF support for Petro Poroshenko.  Even if he has nothing against Petro Poroshenko – and as far as I am aware there is no serious grievous issue between them – quite clearly if Dmitry Firtash says “white” then Rinat Akhmetov is very likely to say “black” in the continuing personal sparring behind the scenes.

Whether Ms Tymoshenko or Mr Poroshenko win, either will now have to deal as best they can with this difficult inter-oligarchical relationship, as well as all the other critical issues facing the nation.  Ms Tymoshenko is surely better suited to that confrontation if the result is to be one of a winner and loser – though as she dislikes both men and they her, who should win?  Mr Poroshenko is far better suited if there is to be a negotiated – if unstable – peace.

Neither really should have to deal with such an issue considering the other dire issues that face the nation – but it appears political energy will need to be wasted in having to do so.



Mouth engaged before brain again – Yulia Tymoshenko

March 26, 2014

As is very well known, Russian espionage tradecraft is alive and working very well – as US Ambassador Geoffery Pyatt and Assistant Secretary Nuland are well aware.  Nobody in the EU will forget her publicised “F*ck the EU” statement not long ago made publicly available thanks to Russia.

It should therefore come as no surprise to any of the top Ukrainian politicians, “persons of interest” and “interesting people” – not the same thing – that they too would be subject to such tradecraft, especially so in the current circumstances.

But stupid is as stupid does – and there is nobody in Ukraine better at engaging their rhetorical mouth before engaging their brain than Yulia Tymoshenko when it comes to “persons of interest” to The Kremlin.

Thus the content of this leaked telephone call of Ms Tymoshenko, where she states it’s “time to take up arms and whack those damned Russkis and their leader.”  I shall refrain from translating it all, other than to say that this is by far the mildest of the comments made.  Think scorched earth, flattened Russia, machine guns fired in Russian heads and such.

Blimey how that will help deescalate matters

As I have written time and time again “Ms Tymoshenko knows only autocratic and oligarchical politics. She knows seedy opaque deals. She understands zero sum, conflict and division.”

She later confirmed the authenticity of the telephone conversation in the above tweet – but claimed it had been edited to mislead.

Given the sheer number of so many incredibly stupid statements she has made as a public figure – such as going on television in 2008 stating the global economic crisis would not affect Ukraine – belief in her statements and subsequent spin is somewhat thin.  Thus few will believe her story of the conversation being edited – if it was.

Regardless of any truth in the tale of the conversation being edited – or not – it has very little relevance.  It’s not what you say, but what people hear that counts.

Due to her complete lack of thought of both what she was saying and the medium she was using when she said it, what people will hear in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Odessa, are words from a presidential candidate – and woman widely believed to be very corrupt, far from honest in her oratory, and whom is already thought to be running the country from the shadows – making statements that will only further fuel their Kremlin planted/cultivated anxieties.

Alternatively, it may further spur secessionist sentiment amongst the hard core in western Ukraine to leave the rest of the nation behind if it is seen to be moving too slowly – or not at all.  (At least such sentiment amongst the hard core nationalists that remain alive that is – some even manage to predict their own demise.)

Considering Kremlin attempts to mobilise the south and east of Ukraine must be very disappointing from their point of view thus far, perhaps they will now see a lever that can be engineered to push the west of Ukraine away instead.  Or try both simultaneously.  (The option of pushing western Ukraine away, as pulling southern and eastern Ukraine in seems to be currently failing miserably, is something I wrote about elsewhere a few days ago).

Perhaps once it was leaked, her swift confirmation of authenticity was to make the best of a bad situation.  A swift spin into an attempt to win voters in western Ukraine from the nationalist ranks and such a strong rhetoric may also appeal to the millions of Russian speakers who do not want rescuing by Russia in preparation for the forthcoming presidential elections.  A Ukrainian Boudica of imagery if not action at least?

Whatever the case, it seems there is a competition between Svoboda and Ms Tymoshenko to legitimise everything President Putin wants to plant in the minds of the ethnic and Russian speaking constituency in Ukraine.  Why not just ask these regions to roll out the red carpet for Russian intervention to save them – not from fascists or anti-Russian sentiment – but from unbelievable Ukrainian political stupidity, whilst simultaneously further whipping up any secessionist sentiment in western Ukraine to leave the rest behind.

Considering there is little more divisive in Ukrainian politics than Yulia Tymoshenko – and the ideology of Svoboda – just how incredibly stupid and self-defeating can the current Svoboda/Batkivshchyna Party interim government be?  There seems to be no limits!

Still, a timely reminder for the Europeans, western orientated nations and institutions intent upon supporting Ukraine in the years ahead, of just how very difficult that will be with the incredibly feckless Ukrainian political class and the likelihood of further public unrest  – notwithstanding any Russian attempts to undermine any assistance given along the way.

Although I doubt any within the EU will have forgotten what became known as “Tymoshenko fatigue” a few years ago when she was last in power – if ever they needed a reminder – Yulia Tymoshenko is bound to provide it……time and time again!


Vlasenko accuses Poroshenko of censorship

January 14, 2014

Apparently Petro Poroshenko, owner of Channel 5 TV, regular Євромайдан speaker – and probably funder in part thereof – has banned any news about Yulia Tymoshenko on his TV channel – according to one of Ms Tymoshenko’s lawyers, Serhiy Vlasenko.

Quite why Mr Poroshenko would want to do such a thing – if indeed he has – remains unclear.

No matter what is aired regarding Ms Tymoshenko  – or not – she is not leaving prison any time soon unless it suits the current leadership’s agenda.

With the change of foreign office personnel in Germany, she is no longer a (publicly at least) headline issue for Mrs Merkel’s new coalition government as this interview with Gernot Erler  clearly infers.  An impediment for continued traction within the EU when it comes to European headlines containing the name “Tymoshenko”.

Remaining in jail as she obviously will be, any damage she could do to any presidential ambitions Mr Poroshenko may have are clearly limited – if he has any serious presidential ambitions at all.  He doesn’t seem to figure in anybody else’s plans when it comes to opposition presidential scheming despite being an extremely capable candidate.

Thus despite Serhiy Vlasenko’s accusations, it is difficult to see a robust driver for such an undemocratic decision as to enforce censorship on his TV channel relating to all things “Tymoshenko” orientated.

It may be upon scratching away at the thin veneer that is the public facade of opposition unity, and entering the distrustful reality of mutually adorned opposition cloaks and daggers, a fall out between Ms Tymoshenko and/or the Batkivshchyna Party with Mr Poroshenko has occurred – However, if not, and the accusations of Serhiy Vlasenko are spurious, then such public accusations whether intentional or otherwise, add to a public perception of  mistrust amongst the opposition parties and their associated leading public figures.

Let’s be quite honest, having read this, you are wondering why Mr Poroshenko undemocratically censors his TV channel over Ms Tymoshenko – or alternatively wondering why Mr Vlasenko claims he is, if he isn’t?

An unnecessarily public incident within the opposition ranks when all is said and done.  The “democratic opposition” publicly accusing the “democratic opposition” of undemocratic censorship seems to be something of a gift for the spin doctors of the authorities.  Far better addressed privately behind closed doors – if there is anything to address at all.


Ends and means – Tymoshenko options

October 22, 2013

Many people could be forgiven for thinking that Ms Tymoshenko has only one lawyer – the less than erudite and very short-term thinking Serhiy Vlasenko.

Fortunately for her, she doesn’t have only one.

In fact it is probably more fortunate for Ukraine than it is for her, that Mykola Siryi is on her team.  Fortunate for Ukraine insomuch as Siryi seems to have far more consideration and due care for the legal precedents set regarding the route to Tymoshenko’s freedom than his colleague.

As an example – one of many – Vlasenko bluntly informed the EU Mission, EU parliamentarians, Ukrainian media and anybody else who would listen that President Yanukovych can simply release Tymoshenko in a moment under the Constitution of Ukraine.

That is true – Article 105, clause 27 simply states “grants pardons” when it comes to presidential powers.  As such Mr Vlasenko seems to be arguing that the president’s right to pardon is absolute – and he should therefore ride rough-shod over all other laws, protocols and precedents relating to pardons in existence.  Small existing laws and precedents annoyingly requiring a prisoner to have served at least 50% of their sentence and an appeal for pardon coming from the prisoner themselves.

Hmm – Ukrainian presidents with “absolute rights” able to disregard other laws, protocols, procedures at their whim.  A precedent demanded by the lawyer of the “leader” of the “democratic forces” of Ukraine, himself a long term deputy for the “democratic forces”.

What could possibly go wrong with that – now, or in the future – Mr Vlasenko?  Is anointing Ukrainian presidents “absolute rights” the “democratic” solution?

Indeed his argument has validity – except the long-term repercussions for Ukraine require much deeper thought than that Vlasenko – not for the first time – gives the issue.

And it is here Ukraine should be thankful for Mr Siryi – the unseen and oft unheard lawyer for Ms Tymoshenko – who has this to say about a pardon for Ms Tymoshenko a couple of days ago – “A pardon.  It’s a touchy issue.  On the one hand a pardon is not possible if half the length of the sentence has not been served and a personal request for a pardon.  And on the other hand, the president’s right to a pardon is absolute.

But if you want to go to extremes, only an absolute monarch has absolute rights, but the president of a modern democratic state only has the right to pardon in exceptional cases.  Are there exception circumstances for a pardon in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko?  Yes, there are more than enough, and they should be the subject of public dialogue.”

A much more erudite and wise line of thought – with due consideration for the precedents that may be set – than that orated by his blinkered colleague – though public dialogue would need to be swift as time is short, and political dialogue has already been exceptionally lengthy both internally and externally of Ukraine.

Mr Siryi went further discussing other possible routes leading to his client’s release – “Amending the infamous article 365 of the criminal law in line with the requirements of a democratic society doesn’t mean changing it for one person, it’s a solid political and legislative step for this and future generations, particularly the ruling government – as a guarantee. The government will change at some point,

Quite.  The question thereafter is, will it be applied retrospectively and to what degree?  Anybody serving time for an offence under that Article, released but their criminal record remains?  Released and record expunged?

Mykola Siryi also stated  that a judicial review of the verdict is the longest process. “Right now, the president’s people made sure the request for judicial review was rejected twice. There is a solution, of course – legally changing the procedure for access to justice in the Supreme Court and bringing the powers of the highest court in line with the Constitution.”

There is then the matter of the draft law apparently heading for a vote in the RADA this week, which I have touched upon before – and the precedents and consequences that will have.

Whilst little doubt remains that Ms Tymoshenko will be released no later than mid-November – the question still remains by what method.  Thereafter, some thought will have to be given to the precedents and consequences of any route taken.

Will the ends justify the means via the legal lens in the long term?  At least the more erudite lawyer of Ms Tymoshenko is considering the legal future – post his client’s release.


RADA to adopt law to allow Tymoshenko treatment abroad next week….maybe

October 20, 2013

According to Petro Poroshenko, next week the RADA will adopt a law that will provide a way for prisoners to receive treatment abroad, paving the way for Ms Tymoshenko to go to Germany for treatment.

As far as I can tell, the draft law to which he refers would allow prisoners to have treatment abroad on the condition that suitable treatment is unavailable or in some way substandard in Ukraine.  The decision as to whether any prisoner would qualify to be at the decision of a currently non-existent panel of experts.

The proposed law states that the time undergoing treatment abroad is to be counted as “time served” toward any sentence.

Naturally if this is the only draft law in existence that will create a legal solution to the Tymoshenko problem, then problems remain.

Firstly, her condition could be treated in Ukraine.  Thousands of people with her condition are treated in Ukraine every year.

Secondly, the panel by whom such decisions are to be made by, as yet does not exist.

Next, whilst this law may be politically expedient and facilitate Ms Tymoshenko’s departure to Germany, it does not deal with her return.  Should she return prior to her treatment time completing her sentence, is she to return to prison?  If not, are we to assume her treatment will continue until 2016 when her sentence expires to avoid a return to prison?

Should her treatment conclude prior to 2016 and yet she remain abroad, this is an obvious exploitation of an obvious loophole – but the prison sentence remains outstanding?   Or are foreign doctors are expected to collude to keep a faux treatment going for political reasons to run down the Ukrainian sentencing clock?

We can also presume – given that all the influential people who fall from grace seemingly always fall ill in Ukraine the moment legal proceedings are opened against them – that this is a law that will predominantly be exploited by a class of citizen of certain background compared to the average Ukrainian.  Nations willing to host such people will naturally  volunteer or be found for these select few.

Whilst these are issues that will clearly come to the fore in the days, weeks and years ahead, we should perhaps return to the statement of Mr Poroshenko – for it is first necessary for this law to pass through the RADA.

The question here is whether there will be sufficient support.  It will need the support of at least 226 MPs.  Last week the opposition petition to pardon Ms Tymoshenko gathered only 170 signatures from MPs in the RADA.

There is a huge difference between voting for a law and a petition for pardon naturally – a difference that may be more than sufficient to see this law through – a law the the President has said he will sign.

However, there is no such things as a guarantee.

Should only the 170 MPs that signed the pardon petition be seen as guaranteed to vote for this law – in the absence of a PoR “whipped” vote in favour of the law – then we may finally see which of the oligarchs are more keen to head EU-wards than others.  It is necessary only to look at who sponsored whose election campaigns to the RADA, or supported a placement high enough on party lists to insure a RADA seat, to work out which RADA MP is “owned” by which oligarch.

Using that model, there are 3 oligarchs of note “owning” about 12 MPs each – discounting a few other oligarchs with lesser numbers of “owned” MPs.  These MPs may have to break PoR ranks and vote their masters will, providing a clear indication of who amongst the oligarchy is far more keen to head “west” than others.

As interesting as that would be, I expect a “whipped” PoR vote where all will vote in favour of the law together with many of the opposition – which returns us to the issue of how and when does Ms Tymoshenko return?


Twitter and Interfax – Correcting positions on Tymoshenko

September 20, 2013

Sometimes the media report things that seem to be absolutely contrary to everything we would expect – and yet it is there in black and white, accurately quoted and seemingly in its proper context.  Occasionally it is so seemingly out of sync with everything that has gone before it that some of us would want to find immediate corroboration to give such radically new positions a more solid and believable foundation – but where to get it?

I am fortunate to have a small, bespoke and somewhat specialist twitter following.  Predominantly it consists of European and Ukrainian politicians, diplomats, journalists, fellow bloggers and academics – as well as a few specialised political/policy/foreign policy media sites that syndicate this blog on the rare occasion I write entries that “excites” them.

I consider myself rather fortunate to have such an educated and erudite following to be quite honest.

What is particularly welcome is the fact that my followers do not just “follow” but also “engage” with me – at least most of the time.  They even circulate this blog through their re-tweets fairly frequently.  A grateful hat doffed accordingly!

As relationships grow and trust is earned, it is possible to get direct answers either publicly or privately, from even the most busy and loftily placed people.

Naturally what is said privately remains private for how else can trust be established?  But what is publicly tweeted is just that – public.

Occasionally, for understandable diplomatic and political reasons, where public answers may not be beneficial to relations, there are short conversations like this one where no answer comes:

David Lidington MP @DLidington 17 Sep

Lively dinner discussion on future of #Ukraine with opposition leaders Arseniy @yatseniuk & Vitali @klitschko
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Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 17 Sep

@DLidington @yatseniuk @Klitschko

No Oleh Tyahnybok?

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Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 17 Sep

@DLidington Was @o_tiahnybok 2 busy? I know #Miroshnichenko is officially not welcome but interaction with @o_tiahnybok continues though.

Yes an awkward question, but then that is to be expected with such an obvious omission (Tiahnybok) in a public tweet about a dinner with a prominent UK MP.  How could I not ask, even when I did not expect an answer to such a possibly sensitive question?

And then there are those that are much longer.  This particular example making things very clear when media reporting points to contrary position (through no fault of the media – this time anyway):

Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 4h

It would seem #Tymoshenko is less of an obstacle to signing the AA and DCFTA than the threats from #Russia:

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Taras Kyiv @Ukroblogger 3h

@OdessaBlogger @JSaryuszWolski #Tymoshenko off the table??? But wait a minute, doesn’t this contradict the EPP “yellow light” line? #Ukraine

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Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 2h

@Ukroblogger @JSaryuszWolski German election Sunday. No invite would come 4 her before that – good manners – 2 soon 2 speculate about lines.


Taras Kyiv @Ukroblogger 2h

@OdessaBlogger @JSaryuszWolski Unless it’s a face-saving release formula,it really comes as a huge suprise (daylight betw #EU #EPP) #Ukraine


Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 2h

@Ukroblogger @JSaryuszWolski  Possibly. Said diplomat does not speak for the #EPP & there is often daylight between national & #EU rhetoric

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Jacek Saryusz-Wolski @JSaryuszWolski 55m

@OdessaBlogger :



Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 50m 


False as in the diplomat is mistaken, misquoted, or speaking only for certain parties as I suspect?

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Jacek Saryusz-Wolski @JSaryuszWolski 43m

@OdessaBlogger:False,as #EU consensus needed for #UA AA signature,and without free #Tymoshenko there will be no consensus, as simple as that

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Nikolai Holmov @OdessaBlogger 38m

@JSaryuszWolski So the diplomat is clearly over-stretching!

And so there you have it – regardless of what a certain diplomat states and Intefax rightly subsequently reports for public consumption – if you ask the right questions of the right people – in this case @JSaryuszWolski (who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite tweeters) – you can get direct, robust, clear and immediate replies that carry significant political weight contrary to what is being reported.

No doubt some robust, clear and direct dialogue of a similar nature taking place in Yalta right now too!

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