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Friday, January 26, 2007

Davos Is Not Donbas, or Viktor Ya’s Dirty Little Secret

Guess who's leading the Ukrainian delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos. You got it. It's Viktor Yanukovych, the incredible “Proffessor [sic] of Economics!” That’s what his handwritten presidential candidate application told us in 2004. Wait a minute, didn’t it also state a certain degree of proficiency in English? Sure it did. Should we therefore assume his American spin doctors put that precious information on his badge? Well, they most certainly chose not to, for fear it would make Borat pale by comparison.

To look sexy at this annual carnival that brings together business and political elites from all over the globe, Proffessor (with a double "F")
masquerades himself as the head of the freshly-minted investment council. Hey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and the rest of you guys out there, you better pay attention. Our man Yanukovych here means business. As a student of Kuchma, he has a way with numbers you can’t imagine. Lakshmi Mittal, a colleague of yours, paid $4.8 bn for a steel mill that our man knew just how to sell for a mere $800 mn. You get the idea.

Viktor Pinchuk of Interpipe, a renowned Westernizer, philanthropist, Kuchma’s son-in-law and, by the way, former co-owner of that steel mill, will hold a lunch-conference titled "Where Is Ukraine Heading?” Among those who plan to attend are Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, financier George Soros, chairman of Russia's Vneshtorgbank Andrey Kostin, and Ukrainian American astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

So where is Ukraine heading? Yanukovych will probably trot out the same old lines about Ukraine destined to be a bridge — the bridge — between Europe and Russia, the latter, of course, being the neighbor everybody would love to have. (Lukashenka would beg to differ on that one.) And if Freud dropped by, he’d point out that the title of the conference clearly addresses the West’s repressed concern that, with Proffessor at the helm, Ukraine is going straight to hell.

OK, let's not overanalyze our humble leaders.The Ukrainian delegation includes Economy Minister Volodymyr Makukha, commodity kings Rinat Akhmetov of SCM, Serhiy Taruta of ISD, and Ihor Kolomoisky of Pryvat. The “old man” (Yushchenko), a no show at Davos, is represented by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, deputy chief of the Secretariat.

Of course, Yanukovych will go to great lengths eroticizing that 7 percent GDP growth rate for 2006. In fact, he’ll tell you any shit you want to hear. But there’s something he will avoid any discussion of. And here’s what it is: As of today, Ukraine remains one of the poorest countries on the continent, period. Ukraine ranks a dismal 125th out of the 161 countries surveyed in the 2006 Index of Economic Freedom.

With most of the profits from our retarded industry being sucked out to offshore banks, a sizable stream of investments comes from EU migrant workers who send remittances to their families back in Ukraine.

Whether you like it or not, sex tourism could become Ukraine’s next killer app. After all, it’s slightly more humane than the sex slave trade and could provide an additional source of income for local law enforcement.

That about wraps up our economic learnings of Davos for make benefit glorious region of Donbas. Proffessors of all banana republics, go hunting!

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