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Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicken Chernovetsky

If Pavlovian handouts worked for you, you’re toast. If Mayor Omelchenko turned your world upside down, you haven’t seen anything. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Mayor Chernovetsky, the heaven-sent man about to explain to you the ways of the world.

Mr. Chernovetsky, laughed at as an eccentric banker and Jesus peddler who spoke a language few could understand, raised quite a few eyebrows when he landed the job jack-in-a-box-style, scoring a mere 32 percent of the vote. Compared to a lofty 73 percent for Omelchenko in 2002, not exactly a landslide victory, isn’t it?

More surprise awaited those who pictured him as a harmless do-gooder. They soon realized that the mayor of their jokes had a plan that didn’t exactly match their own.

On his orders, a loyal legion of Pravex managers, including his close relatives, infiltrated the City Hall. Contrary to what some naive Kyivites had expected, these servants of the “public good” perfected the den of nepotism built by outgoing Mayor Omelchenko. The philosophy gave itself away with the thunder of favoritism scandals involving metropolitan land sales. This ear-splitting, heartbreaking wedding march effectively consummated the City Hall’s remarriage to conflict of interest. Thanks to the local media keeping a watchful eye from day one, the truth finally hit home: Boy will they rock this town.

And here’s the great leap forward for us mortals: Starting December, we will be paying 340 percent as much for utilities as we used to.

For the Mayor and utilities bosses he’s chummy with, this surely sounds like a good idea. But not for the metro crowd! Given Kyiv’s median take-home pay of $350 per month, not all Kyivites own cars, let alone Maybachs and Bentleys.

Experts believe that Chernovetsky’s costing contains a hefty overcharge. President Yushchenko has already cautioned him to that effect. Interestingly enough, in the previous Rada, Chernovetsky had shined on the NSNU rolls.

According to the opposition, Chernovetsky and Co. have been constantly wooing avaricious representatives of other parties with lucrative offers to use them as the voting lubricant for their beggar-thy-neighbor policies.

Aware of the tide of public opinion against him, Chernovetsky responds to criticism with self-deprecating statements, calling his policy “unpopular” yet “inevitable.” Why not compare himself to Chirac, the 1995 president-elect who introduced himself to the global village by approving nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll? The sad thing is, despite the tsunami of Greenpeace protests, he went through with it.

If Leonid Chernovetsky goes for the kill with the same rate of success, the next bestseller on Petrivka market might well be called NukLeo.

Meanwhile, BYuT leprechauns in the City Council have been quitting in droves to join the docile majority. Those with a different value system have to fend for themselves — physically. In the heat of the recent live-broadcast sparring over utility bills, a BYuT representative was hospitalized, having sustained a concussion from a muscular male duo dressed in civvies. The episode is pending investigation.

In another episode, a comic one, BYuT representative Mykhailo Brodsky, a rather rambunctious figure, staked the Mayor to a loaded question, “Sniffed a line today?” “I never do,” replied Chernovetsky. Brodsky then added tauntingly, “Oh, I forgot he’s on wheels.” The prank directly addressed the widespread rumor of the Mayor’s substance abuse problem. Joking aside, Kyivites would be better served if Mayor Chernovetsky enriched his polygraph testing commitment, as applied to top-level municipal employees, with urine testing.

Boxing legend Vitaliy “Dr. Ironfist” Klychko, who happens to occupy a City Council seat, has not shown much fighting spirit. Hey man, why don’t you show us what you got? We need you on the ring as never before. Nope to dope!

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