Posts Tagged ‘Yanukovych’


A return to EU sanctions once more

December 18, 2014

Following on from yesterday’s entry relating to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the soon to (possibly) expire suspension of Kremlin voting rights within the institution at the year end, that in turn raised the question of whether said suspension of voting rights was imposed a sanction or an arbitrary punishment.  Thus it is perhaps timely to look once more at the EU sanctions.

The EU sanctions are imposed for a duration of 1 year that then require renewal if they are to continue.  Despite this perhaps appearing to be somewhat overly bureaucratic, notwithstanding requiring a continued unanimous unity from all Member States, it does give the perception of sanctions being imposed to either send a signal to The Kremlin, as well as those actually sanctioned, that their behavior, be it direct or supporting, is unacceptable – or attempt to contain and/or change Kremlin policy, as well as the policy of those sanctioned.

In short the 1 year duration requiring renewal insures EU sanctions are therefore seen as a temporary policy changing instrument and not open-ended arbitrary punishment – cumbersome as the arrangement may be.

It is beyond doubt that the sanctions raised specifically with regard to the annexation Crimea will continue.  They are likely to continue for years – renewed annually.  The recognition of Crimea as part of the Russian Federation will not come any time soon – if ever.  To do so accepts illegal annexation as a path to changing recognised territorial boundaries.  With the exodus of the Tatar and ethnic Ukrainians from Crimea, and an influx of Russians, not to mention atmosphere of intimidation and suppression those Tatar and Ukrainians that have remained now face, any future referendum would no longer represent the will of the population at the time of annexation.  To think otherwise would be retarded – even if floated as a politically expedient way to deal with the Crimea problem.

That said, both the Kremlin and the EU could cope with continued sanctions relating specifically to Crimea only for decades to come.  It is the sanctions that followed, relating to eastern Ukraine that are a thorn in the Kremlin side, and also the area where European unity will be put to the test.  Indeed it would be no surprise to see sanctions relating to the territory of Crimea increase, whilst sanctions imposed relating to eastern Ukraine eventually subside.  In effect Crimea and those involved, (and are yet to do so), will become ring-fenced as a separate issue from events in eastern Ukraine as time passes, leaving Crimea a perennial bone of contention, whilst eventually a transactional – rather than business as usual – relationship with the Kremlin eventually becomes the normative when matters in the east are far more to the collective European liking.

However, yesterday, it became apparent that certain Ukrainian individuals currently subject to sanctions may soon have those sanctions removed.

As was published here at the end of February, the issue of sanctioning the now exiled “Family” regime of former President Yanukovych seemed problematic even then – prior to any Crimean annexation or war in eastern Ukraine.   Again it is necessary to remind ourselves that sanctions are not intended to be arbitrary punishment, but a tool employed to signal discontent, or to contain, or to change policy.

As that entry stated:  “Perhaps the EU Member States, in an effort to support the “EU brand” in Ukraine, would be wise to make a very public declaration that all assets held within their sovereign territories belonging to, or believed to belong to, any names that would have been on an agreed sanctions list, will now be subjected to criminal investigation regarding money laundering as a far better alternative?

It would certainly be a way to drip-feed the EU consistently into the Ukrainian media over the coming months (and possibly years) as assets are systematically frozen, seized and repatriated (where possible).”

Therefore, unless the EU has intelligence that the Ukrainians who formed the previous regime under the then President Yanukovych are indeed actively supporting nefarious events in Ukraine now – or very likely to do so – are sanctions the right instrument to deal with their assets held within the territory and systems run/controlled by the European Member States?  Is not opening the usually long and drawn out criminal investigations into money laundering a far more suitable tool to retain and possibly repatriate stolen money?

If the EU is to remove these people from its sanctions list, at what point did it realise sanctions are the wrong tool?  Is their continued inclusion now nothing more than arbitrary punishment until their removal?

It also need be noted that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, certainly with regard to the 3 individuals names in the above tweet, has yet to build a domestic case against them of criminal wrong doing – and perhaps any investigations carried out by the EU and Member States into money laundering regarding them would/could therefore be construed by some as politically motivated in the absence of any domestic case.

This naturally leads to several questions.

How and why, upon what grounds, were these individuals placed upon the sanctions lists in the first place – and why are they still on them today if they are likely to be removed sometime in the near future?  When did their level of involvement/possible continued involvement ebb/cease?  If there are suspicions about the origins of their wealth, why are no money laundering investigations underway by relevant European nations?

Why has the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office failed thus far to make any case?  A lack of will?  A lack of evidence?  Incompetence?  Has it been bought off?  Has it been warned off?  Being as kind as possible to the 3 individuals named in the above tweet, they are simply not smart enough to have made tens/hundreds of millions of US$ without the help of nefarious dealings – their State salaries naturally are nowhere near sufficient to account for their wealth.

If Ukraine cannot or will not make a case against them, is it any surprise that the EU may well remove certain Ukrainian citizens from the EU sanctions list?  That does not necessarily excuse the EU and its Member States from failing to carry out money laundering investigations into these individuals, with or without domestic cases against them in Ukraine, but there is likely to be far less political will, or law enforcement priority given any such investigations if Ukraine itself fails to act.


Yanukovych soon to exceed his use to Moscow – One more thing to do

March 5, 2014

Whether you want to believe that “President” Yanukovych was indeed subject to a nationalist, western backed coup – as both he and The Kremlin would have us believe, or whether you believe that he ran away before an angry Ukrainian population tired of his corrupt, feckless and meandering leadership – he remains the first Ukrainian president to see his citizens killed at the hands of the institutions of state over which he presided.  That place in Ukrainian history is assured and cannot be undone.

If we are to believe Vitaly Churkin, the Russian envoy to the UN, “President” Yanukovych is also the first Ukrainian president to request foreign troops to enter Ukraine – apparently to restore law and order.

That law and order seemingly lost only in Crimea if we are to gauge it by the extent to which Russian troops have entered Ukrainian sovereign territory.


“Under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terror and violence.. 

People are being persecuted for language and political reasons.  So in this regard I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine.” was seemingly the request from Viktor Yanukovych.

Whatever the case, the usefulness of Viktor Yanukovych to The Kremlin is rapidly shrinking.

Having bungled the leadership of Ukraine as a Kremlin vassal – certainly during the last months of his residency in Ukraine – he had but two uses to The Kremlin whilst they continued to recognise his legitimacy.

The first has been accomplished – the “legitimate” request for Russia to enter Ukrainian sovereign territory.  The second is likely to occur within a matter of days – weeks at most.

The final useful role The Kremlin has for “President” Yanukovych – together with recently installed Kremlin vassal, Mr Aksenov, as “Prime Minsiter of Crimea” – is to recognise and thus legitimise the referendum in Crimea that will put it firmly within the Russian grasp – whatever the actual question asked in the referendum.

Whilst the result will undoubtedly return the verdict wanted by The Kremlin (it’s not the people who vote that count.  It’s the people who count the votes) – we have to ask what – exactly – the question will be?  Specifically, how it will be worded?  Does The Kremlin seek to engineer de facto control whilst technically leaving Crimea part of Ukraine, establish a protectorate, or de jure (in Moscow’s eyes) annexation and recognition as part of Russian territory?

Whatever the case, after recognising and legitimising the referendum in Crimea, thereafter, Viktor Yanukovych will be freely allowed to fall under any passing bus as Russian political expediency dictates.  His geopolitical/realpolitik usefulness having come to an end.


Out of Africa – ICC requested in Ukraine

February 26, 2014

In an interesting development, today the RADA passed a resolution asking the International Criminal Court to try Viktor Yanukovych (and associates) in The Hague.

I have written about the ICC and The Rome Statute before – in fact I have been featured on the CICC website in the past.

Less than a week ago Kirsten Meersschaert Duchens, the Regional Coordinator for Europe of the CICC and myself were engaged in discussion over any role for the ICC in relation to the occurrences within Ukraine – in summary then agreeing that the ICC indeed had a role and perhaps an obligation to at the very least collect evidence even if matters remained outside their jurisdiction.

Today changes the dynamic of our discussion quite obviously – but – there are Constitutional issues as I have previously written.

On 20th January 2000, Ukraine signed the Rome Statute and on 27th January 2007 it acceded to an agreement on the privileges and immunities of the ICC – however it has never ratified its signing of the Rome Statute in 2000 – prevented in doing so by a Ukrainian Constitutional Court ruling on 12th July 2001, that stated amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution would be required to do so.

The constitutional “issue” being the provision stating that “an International Criminal Court is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions” (paragraph 10 of the Preamble and Article 1 of the Rome Statute) as eloquently made clear here by Viktor Kryzhanivskyi on 2006, the then Ukrainian Charge D’Affaires to the UN.

That being the only issue within the Rome Statute preventing Ukrainian ratification, despite mention of the loosely worded “crimes of aggression” court competence under which it is likely Vitkor Yanukovych (and associates) will fall foul.

Thus, it may very well be that the RADA vote, despite Ukraine being a signatory to the Rome Statute, is in fact unconstitutional.  To circumvent this possible “legality” for Viktor Yanukovych, perhaps another route should be taken to allow ICC jurisdiction that would have less wiggle room for defence lawyers?

There is a possible solution in that the UN can direct the ICC to investigate this issue and perhaps a RADA appeal to the UN would be wise to run in tandem with the direct request to the ICC itself.

Naturally the UN route is not without problems either – for such a direction must come from the UNSC, upon which Russia sits with veto in hand.

Perhaps OSCE investigations and the European Courts would be an easier route for independent, unbiased judicial due process?

The RADA wisely removing the perceived corruption of Ukrainian courts from the domestic public perception is understandable – but it must be belt and braces secure in the legal mechanisms to do so.

In short, can or should any Ukrainian government offer up Ukrainian citizens – no matter their alleged crimes or how obnoxious they be – to the jurisdiction of a court that its own Constitutional Court prevented the ratified recognition of?  Messy?

Whatever the case, the ICC will be very keen to get “out of Africa” given the opportunity!


A tough anti-corruption policy? Ukraine to try………again?

November 8, 2013

Every Ukrainian government I can remember since independence has written, rewritten and then written yet more legislation and policy relating to corruption – and every Ukrainian government I can remember since independence has failed utterly to implement them.

It is therefore with some cynicism I read the latest entry by the current Ukrainian President on the his official website relating to corruption.

“We intend to deliver a powerful and systematic attack on corruption in the country. Such policy should bring radical changes for the better in this old problem with which, unfortunately, Ukraine is closely associated in the minds of the international community over the last decade.”

If, and that is a big “if” there is going to be such an aggressive policy, then one can only assume it seeks to mirror that of Georgia under Saakashvili,  where low level corruption was tackled effectively, to the point where it could be without undermining the ability of the ruling party to act corruptly at the higher echelons.

However, that at least should and would be recognised as a start.  Crushing the pervasive and endemic corruption within the civil service and state institutions from the lowest levels upward – as far as is politically expedient – would still have an impact that would be very noticeable indeed.

It would be naive to expect absolute irradiation of corruption throughout the entire system – that is a feat no nation, institution or system seems capable of accomplishing.

Thus we will see if effective implementation of policy will escape this latest attempt of many to begin to deal with such an ingrained problem – or whether, just maybe, tangible results will appear.  After all, President Yanukovych needs to do something in an attempt to improve his ratings.


President of Ukraine meets with FBI Director – Why?

June 6, 2013

Regular readers will by now be aware of my highlighting occurrences that to me appear either unusual or failing to get the media attention they deserve.

Yesterday, President Yanukovych met with FBI Director Robert Mueller in Kyiv – which strikes me as odd.

What is the Director of the FBI doing in Ukraine?

Why is the President of Ukraine meeting with an American domestic security official?  No offence meant to Mr Mueller, but he is nothing more than an American civil servant, albeit one in charge of probably the most powerful domestic American state institutions.

I would have raised an eyebrow had President Yanukovych met with the Director of the CIA, but at least the CIA is charged with external, rather than internal US security affairs – Even so, director of the CIA or FBI makes little difference – both are still nothing more than a high level civil servant and not a politician or national leader of equal standing on the world stage.

In short, peer to peer meetings I can understand, although some would still question why the Director of the FBI is in Ukraine rather than somebody further down the FBI food chain – but meeting with the President begs the questions “Why?”  both for Mr Mueller’s presence here, meeting the President, and that it is made public rather than kept private.

Yes, yes, I know, Boston bombings, OSCE presidency, war on terror etc., – but that is boiler room staff work, signed off by security agency hierarchy – not FBI Directors and national presidents.

Are we to expect some sort of announcement in the days, weeks and months ahead that is the result of this meeting?


Tymoshenko release probable very soon? Maybe so

April 20, 2013

Two days ago, as my twitter and Facebook followers will have seen, I highlighted this from the presidential website.

It is official recognition from the President that a formal plea from numerous female RADA MPs have petitioned for Tymoshenko’s pardon and the petition has been formally recorded and recognised.

It is not the first petition for her pardon the president has received – there have been many – but it is the first I have seen acknowledged in such a way.

The following day, it was followed by a similar appeal by historical members of the Ukrainian diplomatic corps.

Previously I forecast that Yuri Lutsenko would be released on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter, but he was released 3 weeks earlier than my crystal ball declared.  That said, I made that prediction at the beginning of February, so perhaps it was a little smudged when I gazed in it.

Could it have been so smudged that I mistook the release of Lutsenko for Tymoshenko and yet the timing between 28th April and 5 May will still prove to be accurate?

It certainly wouldn’t be a bad time to do it for numerous reasons, if that is the decision.

Obviously the symbolism of releasing a woman due to an all female petition, together with if not the resurrection of an omnipresent – the rehabilitation (in part or in full) of a foe by a president many consider likes to think of himself as omnipresent, could sit very well with the Orthodox faithful during the Orthodox Easter.

Symbolism aside, the United Opposition are in something of a mess when it comes to leadership and discipline, Kyrylenko resigning as Deputy Leader of the United Opposition yesterday and MPs leaving, and yet another enormous ego in the shape of Tymoshenko’s entering the daily fray would probably prove more divisive than unifying for them in the medium term – possibly immediately.

Particularly so as there will be those dreading her release amongst the United Opposition just as there were Lutsenko’s release – and for good reason when it comes to personal ambitions.  For them the question is whether Tymoshenko is indeed a spent force amongst opposition parliamentary politics or not.

It would also allow 18 months for any warm (be it very warm or lukewarm) reception from the public she may receive upon release to have cooled greatly prior to presidential elections in 2015, as well as defining her reception amongst an opposition that has moved on somewhat, without her.

Naturally it would all-but guarantee the signing of the EU Association Agreement and DCFTA in Vilnius in November, despite many other demands Ukraine may fail to fulfill in their entirety to the EU time line.

It is though,  an agreement document that will forever go down in Ukrainian history with the signature of President Yanukovych thereon.  Something history will never be able to deny him.  History will equally record his failure to engineer its success.   Let us not underestimate ego.

Perhaps most importantly, and therefore the most unlikely to be mentioned immediately by many, for Yanukovych’s reelection ambitions, should the agreements get signed, it may very well help prevent the further courting of a fairly disgruntled traditionally Party of Regions biased oligarchy with potential new lovers in both Klitschko and Yatseniuk – something that has recently been happening albeit tentatively.

None will back Tymoshenko if released and able to stand for election – “anybody but her” is still very much the current thinking amongst the vast majority of that particular clique.

It maybe that her release, in true Ukrainian style, is done at the very last minute prior to the Vilnius Summit in November – but I doubt that.  If not at Easter, then possibly during the summer RADA recess.  If not by then, then probably not prior to the Vilnius Summit at all.

Whatever the case, the announcement on the presidential website does raise speculation – if not necessarily the odds – of it happening soon.

I will certainly not need to sit down due to shock, should her release come far sooner than most have anticipated – not that on-going investigations would stop.

It also has to be said, I will also not be surprised if her reception amongst the opposition parties and many of their supporters is far cooler than she may expect either.


Lutsenko circus nears its finale

April 4, 2013

Yesterday, as per the script, the prison sentence of Yuri Lutsenko was upheld by The Higher Specialised Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases.

Now, as per the script, it falls to the President Yanukovych to release Lutsenko on humanitarian grounds due to ill health, negating the need for Lutsenko to ask for a pardon which he will not do.

It also follows that his conviction would remain if released from prison on humanitarian grounds.

For the sake of the continuing circus performance, one has to suspect Easter would be a good time for the President to intervene and have him released.  So possibly around 5th May?  It would fall in rather nicely with the EU time line to see some “progress”.

Anyway, the circus performance must go on, even if for just a little longer with respect to Lutsenko – After all it would simply be boring to just have him finish his sentence in 2014 now wouldn’t it?


A non-story that is a story – The missing Focus edition

February 26, 2013

Today I should perhaps be writing about yesterday’s EU-Ukraine summit – so of course I won’t be – as that will be covered to within an inch of its life by everybody else.

Instead, we will return to the freedom of the media, a tired but worthy subject and one that was no doubt touched upon directly or otherwise at the EU-Ukraine summit.

This article appeared in the weekly Focus magazine, issue number 8, 2013 – albeit temporarily:

Yanuk spending

The question is why temporarily?

The subject is the annual cost of President Yanukovych to Ukraine during 2012, in respect to his role as President.  These are not the hidden costs of lackluster leadership, failure to attract FDI, corruption, favouritism, cronyism et al, but things like security, transport and the normal expenses you would expect any head of state in incur at the expense of their nation.

A quick conversion to Euro would, according to the Focus figures, be approximately Euro 94 million.  I use the Euro simply because it is just over UAH 10 to Euro 1 and it makes the slightly more than UAH 1 billion spent far easier to understand.

A huge sum of money to spend on a head of state?  I honestly don’t know, but appears that way.  Particularly so if we are to compare it to President Kucha’s last term in office where his costs to the nation as President were never more than 50% of the above costs that are claimed by Focus.

That said, we are talking about a time lapse of almost 10 years between today and the end of the Kuchma presidency, and I can’t find any costs for the Yushenko presidency at the time of writing.  What is certain is that it is simply not a matter of inflation – though I also don’t remember President Kuchma globe trotting quite as much as the current president does – however perhaps he did and I simply forget.

Anyway, within 24 hours of this particular issue of Focus going out – it was recalled.  The on-line link to this particular page was also broken leaving any would-be reader with the “Error 404” message.

Unfortunately it appears that whomever was ultimately responsible for this decision has failed to realise that when something is published on line, removing it entirely is an impossibility as somebody somewhere will have saved such an image as soon as they saw it.  Likewise once a hard copy of the magazine has been sold, recalling every issue printed is also impossible.

Gene and bottle and all that.

So why was it recalled and links broken to this particular article on line?

Was it an editorial decision because the numbers are seriously flawed in some way, and this only came to light after publication?  That would show a degree of integrity far beyond that associated with the Ukrainian press, not withstanding the costs of recalling all printed issues and loss of sales.  Far easier to make a correction in the next issue – although that is not something the Ukrainian press are good at either – admitting when they get it wrong.

The other alternative is that pressure was put on Focus to withdraw the printed issue and break the on line links to this particular article.  Not that such action would necessarily make one conclude the figures quoted are right or wrong, as in either case, few would be surprised if pressure over such an article was put upon the owner and/or editor of Focus in such times of financial strife and severe imbalances between rich and poor across the nation – notwithstanding making President Yanukovych even more unpopular.

It seems, as of the time of writing, Focus is in a state of something similar to purdah – thus no mention of this event is being made whatsoever.  As such, whilst nobody likes to admit their mistakes, it seems more likely that this censorship of the media is not self-censorship due to error but due to external pressure.

As such, today, rather than ruminating over the EU-Ukraine summit as many will be doing, I will raise this issue instead – whilst allowing you to see what was briefly in the public domain via Focus and now back in the public domain here – whether it be accurate or not is down to the reader to either discredit or add substantiate.  I make no claims to the accuracy of the numbers quoted.

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