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Sunday, May 27, 2007


Breaking (Belated) News: Yushchenko, Yanukovych, Moroz Set Final Elections Date to Sep. 30

In the early hours of Sunday, with most Ukrainians fast asleep, our leaders came to a settlement on the elections issue. In a major concession on the part of Yushchenko, the settlement pushes the date down to the end of the summer vacation season.

Photo courtesy of Ukrayinska Pravda

21 comments:

David said...

We'll see how serious of a concession it will be.

You've made some decent posts man.

It almost makes me wish I was still a blogger...

dlw

Taras said...

Thank you David:)! I kept my promise: no violence:) Let’s hope Yanuk will keep his too.

You’ve been my biggest client. More than that, you are the definition of a true friend of Ukraine. As a part-time blogger, I’ll be glad to keep in touch with you when you have the time:)

David said...

Well, dude.

I do care and I think I've grown from following Ukrainian politics.

I remember ten-plus years ago when I was in college and I had a cavalier attitude that now that communism had fallen that we could put that nightmare behind us. It seems sometimes we give more attention to ideas than we give to people. I was pretty naive, though I was better informed about int'l going-ons and manipulations than most of my fellow USAmericans. We are unfortunately cursed with an excess of trust in our political leaders and too caught up in our freedoms to give a shit about elsewhere in the world. I have at times searched for Ukraine and Election in the Google Blog search and come across descriptions of how corrupt elections are in Africa and how they would love to have the media attention we white people have lavished on Ukraine, relatively-speaking.

Anyways, it's callous of me to say this, but I wouldn't be surprised if for the sake of stability and less noble reasons there is an alliance between PoR and NSNU. I hope it is one with some concrete reforms that enable more of the gains to trickle down and that BYuT gets significant minority rights. I hope NSNU and BYuT are able to come together to discipline PoR from time-to-time and that Akhmetov gets more influence than Yanukovich or Azarov in PoR. I hope more oligarchs get pricked into donating more money to charity to help more Ukrainians and that the door is open for further reforms.

I also hope that Churches will be empowered more and will engage in the sorts of Local Community Development that will secure that political changes will truly be of lasting importance in ways that will spill-over into the rest of the FSU.

Don't worry, we'll be in touch.

dlw

Anonymous said...

When most were asleep ... (esp. after partying in Kyiv :)
And then Mon. was an official holiday with the presses not working? Real ques. is when did Yulia hold her press conference on Sun., Mon., or Tues., and how is she interpreting the event? Was she even present at the press conference announcing the details? or did they wait until she went home to get some shut eye?

Luida

David said...

I hear people are tired of politics in Ukraine...
http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/05/26/ukraine-politics-overdose/

It looks like the general presumption is that things will work out, not necessarily with radical changes but peacefully...

dlw

Taras said...

Well, David:)

In my own way, I’ve grown up too.

The idea of a socially responsible NSNU-PRU coalition strikes me as wishful thinking, though. Some of their soundbites already reek of necromancy and systemic desensitization aimed at reanimating the summer ‘06 déjà vudoo shit and building public acceptance.

Yet should we seriously expect better living standards if we acquiesce in NSNUzers’ surrogate partnership with the Party of Rogues? Make no mistake: The slutification of NSNU will bring no revival to Ukraine.

If we pin our hopes on donations from the Dons of Donbas or from the lyubi druzi, we will remain a close relative of political Africa indefinitely. To hell with that stability thing! Reform and the rule of law is what we need.

Tired of Ukrainian politics? Consider me a good case in point:) A weary soul, I do care and I do keep tabs on what’s going on, but sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

Taras said...

Luida, that’s correct. Monday was an extension of Holy Trinity Day:)

Following the nocturnal accord, Tymo took a vow of silence for a few days to study the situation. (I may be a poor Tymo watcher, but that was my impression.) She then made herself available to the press, claiming that the PRU has shelled out some $120 mn to buy deactivated BYuT MPs back into the Rada.

It means greasing their palms so they would withdraw their parliamentary resignations and thus would open the road to further election sabotage.

Anonymous said...

To me, "stability" is not a code word for the people.

"Stability" is a code word for the oligarchs to keep their oligarchy.

Let's face it, the only thing that has been happening in Ukraine is a tug of war between the oligarchs. They have been playing like spoiled little brats in a sandbox.

I don't think the people in Ukraine are tired of the politics - I think they have learned to get around it.

Think about it - why did Stanik's mom get $12 million?

Why did Luhansk Teplovoz get sold for a song to some Russian at yet another rigged bid?

Why should anyone pay attention to a government where the deputies don't respond to votes, where they simply respond to money?

Why should anyone respect a government where the Prosecutor General relies on Berkut (special police forces) to retain his office?

Why on earth should any of the police forces be "loyal" to one politician or another?

The idea of NSNU and the Party of Rogues is just another way of masking corruption, just another way of keeping an oligarchic system.

I think Lutsenko and Tymoshenko have clear-headed views on that.

David said...

Well, you know your country better than I do.

The issue seems one of conversion. Are the NSNU more likely to be converted to PoR methods or vice-versa?

I do think that political cultural change is necessary one way or the other. I guess we've seen some change already, with the hiring of US spin-doctors and the respect shown for the OR and its very flawed emulation by the PoR. But clearly the more important changes still remain to be made and may very likely require new leadership in PoR.

Don't diss donations by the wealthy, they do make a significant difference!

I guess I'd say that people need to find a second political wind and act to make sure that NSNU doesn't cuddle up with PoR without clear indications of who's going to be wearing the pants in the relationship.

I think sustained political change does require political cultural changes and that, particularly with Akhmetov, there are signs that the PoR has fissions or parts that are more open to making changes to help them secure more western business ties.

So have a little faith, dude. It's gonna be up to people like you to make a compelling case for the need for more discipline and selective vigilance by the Ukrainian pople on their political participation to ensure that more of the promises of the OR are made and sustained, in a stable manner.

ps, people want more stability and so yes it is something we shd care about, but critical reforms can be done along with provisions for stability.
dlw

David said...

Some good news.
http://foreignnotes.blogspot.com/2007/06/sense-in-political-maelstrom.html

I'd be willing to be proud about that, while not contradicting what I said before about more folks needing to find a second political wind...

dlw

David said...

stability may oft mean the oligarchs guarding their wealth, but it need not mean only that. And people do tend to want stability.

Yes, the system is deeply flawed and I shd be loathe to gloss over that as a foreigner, but I believe that all lasting changes come from persistently working with deeply flawed system as such, without expecting radical changes, while expecting significant changes that bear testimony to our ideals and the importance of hope.

dlw

Taras said...

Hi guys:)!

David, your last comment certainly does it better justice:)! I wonder if you have some sort of ESP, because here’s the punch I packed before I read your consolidation statement:)

>>Speaking of charity, let me ask you one simple question: If Ken Lay were alive, would American authorities amnesty him for $1 bn worth of donations to the Salvation Army? Lest we root for the crooks, I guess we should make some clear distinctions as to the source of wealth, shouldn’t we:)?

We should also keep in mind that the late Ken Lay can’t hold a candle to the versatile talent we have in Ukraine. And I’m afraid that by the time Ukraine’s annual volume of charitable activity reaches $1 bn, I’d probably reach retirement age.

If we examine the motivation behind the oligarcharitable crowd, it will remind us of the Roman Catholic Church’s Medieval practice of peddling indulgences. Even the social inducements championed by the tobacco industry look nobler.

Which is why I’d be happy to accept charitable contributions from Bill Gates, but not from his charlatan imitators in Ukraine’s oligarchy:)

As much as I can fault Microsoft for its products and trade practices, I find no fault with Bill Gates’ charitable profile. Bill Gates did not build his wealth pyramid on large-scale theft of public property in the State of Washington. His wealth did not cast his neighbors into wretched poverty. On the contrary, he started his business from scratch, a business that has powered the knowledge economy envied by the rest of the world.

And what do we have in Ukraine? What we have is a herd of industrial cash cows built under communism, ones that graze on cheap labor and natural resources; a holdover from the 50s, 60s and 70s; the ageless equivalent of the Cinderella economy that Karl Marx outlined in his Das Kapital.

We shouldn’t overestimate the impact of American spin doctors on their Ukrainian clients. You can take Yanukovych out of Donetsk, but you can’t take Donetsk out of Yanukovych. If you’ve been following this guy’s domestic and foreign adventures, you know how true this is.

Until proven otherwise, I remain skeptical about the enlightenment of other PRU members. Thus far, hiring American consultants has not made them any more American or European than would flying Boeings or firing Italian-made rifles.

Therefore, the theory that Donbas’s IPO race would shape its dons’ behaviors into more socially responsible patterns has its limitations. The moribund factories they posses depend on world demand and cheap labor. Domestic consumer spending hardly figures into their business plans.

I’d be the first to file a report on our oligarchs’ conversion to Bill Gates material, but, for the time being, this has been a rare phenomenon.

And finally, were it not for the specter of elections, Ukraine’s Q1-2 bonanza would be lost on the vast majority of its workforce:)

elmer said...

Sometimes, a picture is the best comment.


http://for-ua.com/gallery/676/7427

Taras said...

Moroz Picking His Nose:)

Anonymous said...

okay, dude.

you win. I still wouldn't give the money back, I'd just keep on guilt-trippin' them over their much larger takings and what-not and try to keep the future takings lower...

ps, I fly to Idaho tomorrow...
dlw

Taras said...

I remain open to win-win solutions:)

Guilt-tripping, I believe, can only result in marginal benefits. Of every dollar they took away, Ukraine would receive but a few cents. Under this strategy, we shouldn’t expect quantum leaps in upward mobility and democratic development.

The future generations will never forgive us unless we keep the score and let no crook off the hook. Only then is there hope that our enlightened citizenry will institute the rule of law and will facilitate the creative destruction of the old economy.

Good luck on your Idaho trip:)! By the way, Ukraine grows some of the world’s finest potatoes too:)

David said...

T:Guilt-tripping, I believe, can only result in marginal benefits.

dlw: That's your statement of lack of faith... ;-) I"m not saying only guilt-trip, I'm also calling for pressing for institutional reforms.

T:Of every dollar they took away, Ukraine would receive but a few cents. Under this strategy, we shouldn’t expect quantum leaps in upward mobility and democratic development.

dlw: It all depends. You're still operating with a view that oligarchs are pretty darned depraved.

T:The future generations will never forgive us unless we keep the score and let no crook off the hook.

dlw:Forgiveness and remembering rightly what wrongs have been done is very important. There have been too many wrongs by too many people in the past to truly keep score and try to acheive true justice in this lifetime.

T:Only then is there hope that our enlightened citizenry will institute the rule of law and will facilitate the creative destruction of the old economy.

dlw: "Rule of law" is never given, it's always a stop-gap on human fallenness. All law also relies heavily on the willingness of many to accept rules that constrain their ability to pursue their self-interests as they perceive them. The law may point to what is good, but it can never make us willing to submit ourselves to those in authority nor to make those in authority submit to serving those whom they represent.

dlw

ps, the interviews went well. I will be posting about the result when it comes out if it is in fact good news... I'll let you know otherwise.

dlw

Taras said...

David, I understand your beliefs and your emphasis on forgiveness. But as a Ukrainian and as a nonbeliever, I can’t afford the same luxury:(

I’m not comfortable with forgiving a clique that deprived my country of what took generations of hard labor and sacrifice to build. As you know, Ukraine’s population has shrunk from 52 million in 1991 to 46 million in 2007. Come take a walk in their shoes.

Under these circumstances, you’ll have a real hard time disproving my opinion of oligarchs as pretty darn depraved. Granted, members of the Kuchma family may toss a few coins once in a while. Still, they offer no confessions as to what they, together with their fellow oligarchs, did to this country.

Don’t forget that the economy in the oligarchs’ possession puts the brakes on the upward mobility of millions of Ukrainians. Simply put, “It’s the old economy, stupid!”

No society is perfect enough, least of all ours. Yet as long as we have societies, we need laws. It is unfortunate that societies often fail to educate their citizens on proper behavior. Yet do the system’s shortcomings amount to a moral defense that frees actual lawbreakers from responsibility? I don’t think so. Criminals must be brought to justice, proportionate to the crime. Otherwise, we might just as well get rid of prisons, armies, money and so on, and give chaos a chance. You can be sure murderers and thieves would triumph. Well, thank God — and despite Paris Hilton’s case — something is telling me the U.S. is not ready to scrap The Ten Commandments.

I’m glad your interview went well:) You can do it:)! Just don’t let our oligarchs get on your board of trustees;) Do the math: In Kyiv, a college professor makes about $400 a month, which roughly equals the monthly rent for a single-room apartment. (Assume zero food and clothing expenses.)You don’t want to be in this sort of paradise, do you:)?

Joking aside, I think we all deserve better than that.

David said...

T:David, I understand your beliefs and your emphasis on forgiveness. But as a Ukrainian and as a nonbeliever, I can’t afford the same luxury:(

dlw: Well, that nonbeliever part is perhaps a key part of the problem... ;0

T: I’m not comfortable with forgiving a clique that deprived my country of what took generations of hard labor and sacrifice to build. As you know, Ukraine’s population has shrunk from 52 million in 1991 to 46 million in 2007. Come take a walk in their shoes.

dlw: Yes, I can definitely see that deep pain. I just watched "The Last King of Scotland" last night and it is absolutely incredible the amount of damage that those in power can do by virtue of their egos.

T:Under these circumstances, you’ll have a real hard time disproving my opinion of oligarchs as pretty darn depraved. Granted, members of the Kuchma family may toss a few coins once in a while. Still, they offer no confessions as to what they, together with their fellow oligarchs, did to this country.

dlw: Well, power does corrupt and we are not trapped to repeat the past mistakes. I'm saying that this hope for change must also be extended to those who are oligarchs.

T:Don’t forget that the economy in the oligarchs’ possession puts the brakes on the upward mobility of millions of Ukrainians. Simply put, “It’s the old economy, stupid!”

dlw: Yeah, and I'm not discounting that, I'm saying that conversion of oligarchs needs to be a key component of changing that so there is more upward mobility for Ukrainians.

T: No society is perfect enough, least of all ours. Yet as long as we have societies, we need laws. It is unfortunate that societies often fail to educate their citizens on proper behavior.

dlw: "education" is never 100% straightforward. It always those values things that we need to work out how we attempt to be more faithful to them.

T:Yet do the system’s shortcomings amount to a moral defense that frees actual lawbreakers from responsibility? I don’t think so.

dlw: Of course not, but the ult judgement may not be in this lifetime.... This frees us to reform the system in ways that effectively alter behavior while also accomodating ourselves to those fallen aspects we need the serenity to accept.

T:Criminals must be brought to justice, proportionate to the crime. Otherwise, we might just as well get rid of prisons, armies, money and so on, and give chaos a chance. You can be sure murderers and thieves would triumph.

dlw: nonsense, just because the system is imperfect and some may get away in this lifetime, it does not mean that we don't need a system that will increase the likelihood of them being convicted and thereby deter them from doing wrong.

T:Well, thank God — and despite Paris Hilton’s case — something is telling me the U.S. is not ready to scrap The Ten Commandments.

dlw: Not quite yet... ;) I'm sure Ms Hilton will learn an import lesson from being in prison. The laws do apply to the rich and famous, even if they can mitigate them somewhat...

T:I’m glad your interview went well:) You can do it:)! Just don’t let our oligarchs get on your board of trustees;) Do the math: In Kyiv, a college professor makes about $400 a month, which roughly equals the monthly rent for a single-room apartment. (Assume zero food and clothing expenses.)You don’t want to be in this sort of paradise, do you:)?

dlw: That's pathetic. I'll make 41 thousand for 9 months of teaching 8 classes. That's with a PhD.

T:Joking aside, I think we all deserve better than that.

dlw:Absolutely!!!

dlw

Taras said...

That’s right, David. It all boils down to our beliefs:)

And I believe that the conversion of oligarchs won’t happen overnight. Nor will it happen without adequate societal pressures.

Otherwise, it’s a utopian vision on par with communism. I always tell Westerners that I was born in 1980, the year communism was scheduled to set in according to Stalin’s five-year projections. (Communism, in its bookish form, can be summed up as “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”)

Much to my disappointment, I came into this world only to find out that the country’s chief ideologists had “bait and switched” me, shortchanging my needs. By the time my curiosity made me a steady consumer of Soviet news reports, they almost phased out the term “communism.” They replaced this flagrant misnomer — given the USSR’s humble living conditions — with “advanced socialism,” a better ideological fit. (“From each according to his abilities, to each according to his labor.”)

In a flight of introspection, the Kremlin seized upon this arcane euphemism to avoid the embarrassment of Marxist self-appraisal. Comparison-shopping with regard to countries of “advanced capitalism” brought even more pain at the agitprop pump:)

A lot has changed since then, but not in terms of overall income distribution patterns. The piece of pie that once went to the voracious Cold War-crazed defense industry now feeds the oligarchs’ ever-more voracious appetites.

Even if I find God, I won’t quit looking forward to making Ukraine a better place in my lifetime — and in the lifetime of my neighbors:)

Adjusted for purchasing power parity, 41K still looks stronger than 4K, doesn’t it?;) Believe me, you have a lot to be thankful for:) Treasure what you have and do your best:)!

David said...

T:That’s right, David. It all boils down to our beliefs:)

dlw: At least we're in agreement on that and not in total disagreement wrt our beliefs.

T: And I believe that the conversion of oligarchs won’t happen overnight. Nor will it happen without adequate societal pressures.

dlw: Its a diff in emph. There most definitely were societal pressures in the US when the Rockefellers and Carnegies were moved to mitigate some of their privileges.

T: Otherwise, it’s a utopian vision on par with communism.

dlw: The problem w. utopian visions is that they take aspects of reality and blow them up and leave out a whole lot of other important stuff. I think we need utopian visions, but we also need to bear in mind that that's what they are and act wrt "reality"...


T:I always tell Westerners that I was born in 1980, the year communism was scheduled to set in according to Stalin’s five-year projections. (Communism, in its bookish form, can be summed up as “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”)

dlw: You can find the same idea in Acts 4:34-35. Communists plagiarized Scripture and took advantage of the fallen state of Constantinized Christianity to put forward their secularized materialistic form of the Gospel.

T:Much to my disappointment, I came into this world only to find out that the country’s chief ideologists had “bait and switched” me, shortchanging my needs. By the time my curiosity made me a steady consumer of Soviet news reports, they almost phased out the term “communism.” They replaced this flagrant misnomer — given the USSR’s humble living conditions — with “advanced socialism,” a better ideological fit. (“From each according to his abilities, to each according to his labor.”)

dlw: Gotta luv that "advanced socialism" and its "stability"...

T:In a flight of introspection, the Kremlin seized upon this arcane euphemism to avoid the embarrassment of Marxist self-appraisal. Comparison-shopping with regard to countries of “advanced capitalism” brought even more pain at the agitprop pump:)

dlw: This is why I believe it was inevitable that Capitalism would defeat Socialism, as a materialistic philosophy that fails to provide its people with material benefits cannot stand!!! You shd listen to some of the conservatives in the US that talk as if it was the Reagan admin's willingness to spend a whole lot of money on "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiatives that made us win the cold war. When I was in Ukraine, I learned that of far greater importance for many people who had been locked in the communist ideology was to learn about what had been done under communism. I think something analogous is now happening for us in the US.

T:A lot has changed since then, but not in terms of overall income distribution patterns. The piece of pie that once went to the voracious Cold War-crazed defense industry now feeds the oligarchs’ ever-more voracious appetites.

dlw: It is taken almost as dogma in Economics today that appetites cannot be checked or are boundless. I don't believe this, but I think that some shaming/guilt is necessary to change these things.

T:Even if I find God, I won’t quit looking forward to making Ukraine a better place in my lifetime — and in the lifetime of my neighbors:)

dlw: Dude, God never would call on you not to strive to love your neighbor more like as you love yourself and your family.

T:Adjusted for purchasing power parity, 41K still looks stronger than 4K, doesn’t it?;) Believe me, you have a lot to be thankful for:) Treasure what you have and do your best:)!

dlw: Thanks. I'll be sure to try to steward it well. I like to point to Deut 8:17-18 as an important reminder that our abilities to generate wealth thru hard work are ultimately given to us and meant to serve as a means for us to be blessings for others.

dlw