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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Election Warfare: PRU Wants an E-Day of Its Own

BYuT’s drive for new parliamentary elections and the annulment of Politreforma has provoked a response from with PRU.

As Tymo packs audiences in Washington, MP Vasyl Kyselyov, PRU, has announced a bill that would lump together parliamentary and presidential elections and slate them for Sept. 30.

Yanukovych, still sitting on the fattest pack of approval ratings, has no intention of detoxing himself from the political steroids of Politreforma. He has recently mentioned the idea of indirect presidential elections, that is, having the president elected by parliament. Yet, even if the Anticrisis-controlled Rada passes that chimeral bill, it will most likely lack the votes to override the presidential veto.

All of which suggests a rather blunt publicity stunt. The PRU, whose electoral fat reserves are dwindling in inverse proportion to Ukrainians’ rising costs of living, seeks post-hybernation relief. The list of countermeasures varies from courting Tymoshenko with a two-party system to terrorizing lame duck Yushchenko with early retirement. The trick is to keep the two from flying in formation.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yanukovych: “We’ll Crush the Hands of Those Doing It”

И сегодня ставить нам шпильки, как говорят, в колеса, на различных уровнях мы никому не позволим! Мы руки поотбиваем тем, кто будет это делать! Почему? Потому что мы не за свое боремся, мы боремся за то, чтобы в стране был порядок. Это не личное...

And today we will not allow anyone to put, so to speak, spokes in our wheels, at various levels! We’ll crush the hands of those doing it. Why? It’s because we’re not fighting a turf war here, we’re fighting for order in this country. We have no ax to grind…

Charges to Be Dropped Against Shcherban?

What would you expect from a country whose President awards a Yaroslav the Wise (a political Oscar) to Mykhailo Potebenko, Kuchma’s Prosecutor General, who, among other things, persistently denied the existence of corruption in the Ukrainian government?

What would you expect from a country whose Prime Minister served two jail terms in a juvie? That’s what friends are for.

Friday, February 23, 2007

From Donbas with Love: Good PRU, Bad PRU

Part I: When Hanna Met Myke

Donetsk City Council Secretary Mykola Levchenko, PRU, quoted in Russian:

Без всяких сомнений русский язык станет вторым государственным. Почему идет такое сопротивление? Потому что противники русского языка прекрасно понимают, какие будут результаты. Украинский язык - язык фольклора. И с приданием статуса государственного русскому, необходимость говорить на украинском просто отпадет. Это не язык науки.

Он не умрет, на нем будут писать песни, рассказывать анекдоты, он станет фольклорным. А русский язык - язык науки, язык цивилизации. В уме все переводят на русский. И он будет государственным, вопрос только времени. Самое смешное, что это все прекрасно понимают. Русский язык не вытеснит украинский - нечего вытеснять. Заметьте, какая слабая позиция у защитников украинского языка. Они выступают за единственный государственный украинский язык. А защитники русского не выступают за один русский. Они выступают за два. Потому что понимают, какой язык более востребованный.

Давайте будем реалистами. Второй государственный язык не более чем формальность. В Украине государственный язык должен быть один - русский. И так рано или поздно будет.

There is no doubt that Russian will become the second official language. Why all the fuss? It’s because opponents of the Russian language understand very well what kind of results there will be. The Ukrainian language is the language of folklore. And once Russian becomes official, the need to speak Ukrainian will simply no longer be there. It’s not the language of science.

It won’t die: Songs will be written, jokes will be told — it will become folksy. As for the Russian language, it’s the language of science, the language of civilization. In their mind, everybody translates into Russian. And it will be official — it’s just a matter of time. The funny thing is, everybody very well understands it. Russian will not force Ukrainian out, there’s nothing to be forced out. Note how weak the stance of proponents of Ukrainian is. They stand for a single official language, Ukrainian. Defenders of Russian, however, do not stand for Russian as a single language. They stand for two. It’s because they understand which language is more in demand.

Let’s be realistic. A second official language is nothing more than a formality. In Ukraine, there should be one official language, Russian. And sooner or later, that’s the way it will be.

MP Hanna Herman, PRU, former spokeswoman for Yanukovych and, earlier, an RFE/RL host, quoted in Ukrainian:
Заява цього державного чиновника місцевого рівня свідчить не лише про його низьку культуру і неосвіченість, а й про свідому чи несвідому шкоду, яку він наніс єднанню українського народу, зближенню регіонів, вирівнюванню тих ровів розколу, які так наполегливо намагається засіяти зерном доброзичливості прем’єр.

Я переконана, Донецьк як місто університетів і шахт, як місто де проживає багато інтелектуалів, добрих сердечних і щирих людей, Донецьк, де мешкав Василь Стус, Донецьк, що дав Україні Віктора Януковича, зуміє належно оцінити зарозумілу і немудру заяву малоосвіченого чиновника.

Захищати російську мову треба, але той, хто при цьому принижує українську, є провокатором і наносить величезної шкоди власній державі і народові.

І якщо партія не розуміє, що нам потрібна не частина України, а вся Україна, якщо партія не розуміє, що ми повинні бути демократами, мені залишиться зробити, те, що залишиться...

The statement of this local official not only indicates cultural and intelligence gaps, but it also indicates intentional or unintentional damage that he has done to efforts at uniting the Ukrainian people, bridging the regions, and rectifying the rifts that the Premier has so tirelessly tried to fill with the seed of goodwill.

I am convinced that Donetsk — a city of universities and coal mines, a city of many intellectuals, kind, warmhearted, and sincere people, the Donetsk where Vasyl Stus lived, the Donetsk that gave Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych — will accord proper consideration to the arrogant and unwise statement of an undereducated official.

We should protect the Russian language, but the ones who denigrate Ukrainian are provocateurs and are inflicting massive damage to the country and to the people.

And if this party does not understand that we need not just a part of Ukraine, but the whole Ukraine, if this party does not understand that we should be democrats, I’m left to do what I have to do…

Part II: The Rematch

Donetsk City Council Secretary Mykola Levchenko, PRU, quoted in Russian:
Анна Герман запуталась и ошиблась, в какой она партии состоит и кого она представляет. То, что она себе позволяет в отношении меня как должностного лица, как личности, как секретаря городского совета от Партии регионов в городе, в котором победила ПР, оценит аппарат партии.

Hanna Herman got lost and was mistaken as to what party she belongs to and as to whom she represents. What she has indulged in with regard to me as an official, as a person, and as Secretary of the City Council from Party of Regions in a city won by the PRU, will be evaluated by the party leadership.

MP Hanna Herman, PRU, former spokeswoman for Yanukovych and, earlier, an RFE/RL host, quoted in Ukrainian:
Я вважаю, що моя партія демократична, і що в партійній дискусії про мови переможе демократія і повага до всіх мов, якими розмовляє народ України. Я переконана, що в партії розумні люди, які розуміють, що нікому не дано права принижувати ні українську, ні будь-яку іншу мову. Тим більше, що я знаю позицію лідера партії з цього питання.

Але якщо партія підтримає Колю (Миколу Левченка), виходить, я дійсно не туди потрапила.

I believe that my party is democratic and that the internal debate on language will be won by democracy and respect for all languages spoken by the Ukrainian people. I am convinced that that party has smart people who understand that no one has the right to denigrate Ukrainian, nor any other language, for that matter. Besides, I know where our leader stands on the issue.

But if the party gives support to Kolya (Mykola Levchenko), it will mean that I indeed have come to the wrong place.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rada Rejects Yushchenko’s MFA and SBU Picks

As expected, Volodymyr Ohryzko and Victor Korol, who vied for the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Security Service, respectively, failed to gather support from the Anticrisis Coalition.

It turns out acting MFA head Volodmyr Ohryzko has the nasty habit of speaking Ukrainian in conversations with Russian guests on Ukrainian soil.

And as for MP Viktor Korol, NSNU, the media link him to NSNU mogul Petro Poroshenko, Yushchenko’s chief campaign contributor and a de facto persona non grata in Russia.

The Kremlin can’t stomach these guys, and that’s not the kind of gas Yanukovych needs.

Rada Unplugged: BYuT MPs Continue Blockade of Electricity Room

Starting Wednesday, BYuT representatives have taken control of the facility that powers the Session Hall. (Power has been restored to the voting system, though.) Their demands? Scale back the recent utility hike and raise minimum wages.

Technically, such parliamentary tactics, commonplace in the Ukrainian legislature, can be considered a minor disturbance. Politically, they come as a slap in the face for PM Yanukovych, whose 2006 campaign slogan read “Better living today.”

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Surrogacy an Option for Chernovetsky’s Businesslike Deputy

Irena Kilchytska, Kyiv’s vivacious 38-year-old Deputy Mayor and former Pravex Bank Vice President, has more revelations. Aside from professing Christianity while expecting her firstborn by a boyfriend of unknown identity, what more could she impress us with? In an interview with Ukrainian daily Fakty, Kilchytska elaborated on her family planning, unveiling a vision that may strike traditional believers as a bit unorthodox.

So here are some memorable quotes from a self-made lady who takes pains to “project an image of success at all times” (American Beauty) and exudes the sort of acrid affluenza that Paris Hilton can only dream about.

Слава Богу, ни в каком отдыхе и реабилитации, как беременная женщина, я весь этот срок не нуждалась. Но не уверена, что так же будет с последующими моими детьми, которых я планирую иметь. Не исключаю, что следующего моего ребенка доверю вынашивать суррогатной матери.

Но полет в космос, клонирование и прочие достижения прогресса тоже поначалу казались чем-то страшным и непонятным. Сегодня это уже явь. Я не пророк, но думаю, лет через десять к суррогатному материнству женщины будут прибегать не только в том случае, когда сами не могут выносить детей. Многие деловые занятые женщины, которые пробиваются в жизни сами, а не сидят на шее у мужчины, захотят иметь собственного ребенка, не отвлекаясь на его рождение. И будут пользоваться услугами суррогатных матерей.

Thank God, I’ve experienced no need for rest and rehabilitative therapy throughout my pregnancy term. But I’m not sure that this will be the case with the babies I’m going to have next. I wouldn’t discount the possibility that my next child will be borne by a surrogate mother.

But space travel, cloning, and other advances in the progress of humankind, too, initially came as something terrific and incomprehensible. Now it’s history. I’m not a prophet, but I believe that ten years from now women will be opting for surrogate motherhood not just when they can’t bear children physically. Many time-strapped business women who are out there making it on their own and are not dependent on their partners will want to have a baby without diverting much time to its birth. And they will use the services of surrogate mothers.

Careful as we should be not to step on gender issues and the progress of humankind, let’s pause to note that space travel must have supplied the theme for Kilchytska’s boss, Mayor Chernovetsky (aka Lyonya Kosmos, or Leo the Loony). Quite a few Kyivites would spend their last hryvnya to buy him a one way-ticket to the Moon.

And what about all those Buck$treet Boys squatting in the City Hall? (Two of Chernovetsky’s male deputies are former Pravex Bank employees in their twenties.) This may sound like player haterism of the purest kind, but we expect them to resort to surrogate fatherhood as well?

Of course, in a depopulating nation children are more than welcome, regardless of the biological know-how. But the thought of some children being born “more equal” than others becomes unbearable. A surrogate democracy is not an option.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Ombudswoman in Blue: Reappointment of Yanukovych Associate Defies European Practice

The Yanukovych-controlled Rada Thursday appointed MP Nina Karpachova, PRU, to her third term as Ukraine's Commissioner for Human Rights. Later in the day, MP Mykola Tomenko, BYuT, landed the job as Vice Speaker. The latter position, generously reserved for the opposition, came with the nodding approval of the ruling Anticrisis Coalition. Being part of BYuT’s prior agreement with the PRU, it saved BYuT the agony of having to explain another episode of rapport with the PRU. (BYuT largely abstained from the Karpachova vote.)

While Tomenko’s promotion provides BYuT with a comfortable perch, Karpachova’s political credentials make her comeback a demotion for Ukraine’s human rights track record. (Blue is the official color of the PRU.)

European democracy requires that this watchdog position be occupied by an independent, nonpartisan figure. In Ukraine, however, democracy takes a back seat to Donbas and justice walks in lockstep with the oldest profession — or should we say proffession? But since Ukraine became a member of the Council of Europe in 1995, its citizens have learned to sue the corrupt government all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, winning settlements of a few thousand euros.

Despite assurances to the contrary, the human rights agenda to expect from Ombudswoman Karpachova should probably be called “See no evil, hear no evil.”

Bonjour mesdames Severinsen and Wohlvend. Here’s your clue on how Yanukovych’s goes about his vision of “building a Europe inside Ukraine.”

ChernoCo Profit Slashed; Hijacked City Council Caves in to Kyivites

Kyivites’ utility bills will double, the Kyiv City Council ruled Thursday, overturning the 340 percent hike championed by Mayor Chernovetsky.

The City Council also undertook to carry out an audit of Khreshchatyk, the municipal bank, and Kyivenergoholding, a conglomerate of utility companies, by July. According to the opposition, Chernovetsky’s friends and relatives have been quite energetic in trying to gain control of these cash cows.

A few days ago, the City Hall denied registration to a petitioning group working to arrange a referendum to impeach Mayor Chernovetsky. To ensure success, a total of six teams were set up by the opposition to make separate filings and gather the required signatures. The Central Electoral Commission has advised Chernovetsky against further stonewalling.

The resolution to backtrack on the bills was passed, in small part, due to the so-called imperative mandate bill. This recent piece of legislation applies to turncoat lawmakers sitting in local councils and puts pressure on them to “return to base” or face expulsion. Needless to say, Tymo jumped on television to take a bow for the disciplinary effect of the bill she had sponsored.

However, there’s another way to look at it. The resolution may have a pacifying effect on the public and may be intended by ChernoCo as a survival kit.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Yanukovych Gov’t Helped by God” as Grain Stockpiles Rot in Odesa Port

Уряду Віктора Януковича навіть Бог допомагає. Бог, коли бачить, що ми правильно робимо, і розуміє, що нам палки в колеса вставляють, - так за 100 років найтепліша зима. Допомагає уряду Януковича навіть Бог. Зверху все видно.

Трейдери нехай несуть собі (збитки). Трейдери найменше нас хвилюють.

Even God is helping the Yanukovych Government. When God sees us doing what’s right and understands that spokes are being put in our wheels, we get the warmest winter in 100 years. The Yanukovych Government is being helped by God. He sees from above.

Let the traders bear their losses. The traders are the least of our concerns.
These touching soundbites belong to MP Mykhailo Chechetov, PRU, former head of the State Property Fund, a government agency responsible for overseeing state-owned enterprises and approving privatization deals. In 2004, with Chechetov’s blessing, Kryvorizhstal was auctioned off for $800mn.

A year later, in an open bid, the steel mill fetched $4.8 bn. (Sometimes, God chooses to help the highest bidder, which kind of dashes cold water on Chechetov’s metaphysical observations. He may not have realized it, but the hyperbolic manner in which he chose to heap praise on Proffessor bordered on satire of Borat’s caliber.)

The second quote indirectly relates to the 2003 grain crisis, a major embarrassment for PM Yanukovych during his first coming. With a record harvest in 2002, Ukraine experienced a blowout frenzy of exports that put truckloads of money in traders’ pockets and left farmers scrambling to repay their loans.

On top of that, it depleted the country’s grain stock to a point when imports had to be contracted for, at a higher price, of course. Poor Proffessor! He should have written an autobiographical narrative titled: “Sell Low, Buy High: How Government Spending Helps the Global Grain Market.”

It doesn’t take a scientist to interpret the current Draconian regulations as a mixture of never-again paranoia and bread-and-circus populism. Hey Cargill, give us a break. Can’t you see it? This time Proffessor got the Breadbasket of Europe sealed tight. Not a bushel goes to Bush until Proffessor approves it. Even if it means tons of grain rotting all the while. A few days ago, U.S. Ambassador Taylor took a trip to Odesa to see for himself.

Since Ukrainian grain had been consumed in Ancient Greece, it needs an adequate hero to deliver it from decay. How about sending the Governator on a mission similar to the one he played in “Hercules in New York?”
After all, Arnie has repeatedly identified Ukrainian powerlifter Leonid Zhabotynsky as his life-changing role model.

Divvying Up the Pipeline, or a TroYan Horse for Ukraine’s Last Line of Defense

Here’s another one from the Proffessor posse — a stake swap. Presumably, the stewards of our economy are itching to swap a 50 percent stake in the Ukrainian gas pipeline for a dose of exploration rights on Russian territory.

In the civilized business world, stake swaps have become a popular way of sharing risks and benefits to achieve desired results. A growing body of evidence suggests, however, that a stake swap with Russia may be different. Be careful who you swapping with.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, GasPutin reasserted Russia’s right to demand market rates for the energy it supplies. He then complained about neighboring countries’ reciprocal efforts to make fair pricing the norm for the transit services they provide.

He did mention the swap proposal, though, calling it "revolutionary." So, using Putin as his spokesman — not an uncommon trick — Yanukovych sends a clear message to stakeholders in Ukraine: We’re out to get cheap gas at all costs; we’ll borrow, beg, or swap.

If they asked him at Davos, “How do you spell innovation?” he’d probably answer “in-NO-WAY-shen!” And he’d be damn right. So much for all that crap about modernization and energy efficiency! Donbas will stick to its guns. The only “Better living today” was yesterday. Yeeha! Here we are, a Cinderella sweatshop right in the geographic center of Europe, a proletarian preserve fresh out of “Das Kapital” and “Oliver Twist.” That we should not count on Yanukovych’s readership of these texts is as certain as his role in perpetuating the characters behind them.

Proponents of the swap are flirting with a Trojan Horse designed to neutralize our last line of defense against the Energy Empire. No pipeline, no bargaining power. It’s as simple as that. Vlad the Impaler is waiting for his chance. A thumbs-up from Russian Orthodox clergy will be forthcoming. (Or have the votaries of the Third Rome already rebranded themselves to Gazpromans, that is, members of the Order of Gazprom?)

Back to business, here’s what happened to the Sakhalin project.

Europeans, perhaps with the rare exception of Schroeder, have expressed little admiration for the Kremlin’s predatory policies. Unless Europe secretly worships Gazprom as the god of gas, it must help Ukraine resist proselytization efforts aimed at swapping the welfare of the many for the wealth of the few.