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Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Did I Miss? (Updated)

A number of major events took place during my 9-day blogging hiatus.

Patriarch Alexy died. Influential in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church needs to find a successor for the job that traditionally involves theopolitics. Of the 27,942 parishes the ROC controls, 10,875 come from Ukraine (under the title of UOCMP).

Lytvyn in, Yanuk out. On Tuesday, the Rada elected Volodymyr Lytvyn speaker. The voting breakdown: PRU, 3 out 175; BYuT, 154 out of 156; NUNS, 40 out of 72; CPU, 27 out of 27; LyB, 20 out of 20. It’s unclear whether this de facto Lytvyn coalition will gain de jure status. Nor is it clear what cabinet roles, if any, will be awarded to the Communist Party, which jumped on the Lytvyn bandwagon. What’s clear is that big boy Yanukovych remains in the opposition ranks. (Three Regionalist dissenters supported Lytvyn, among them MP Zvyahilsky.) For Lytvyn, the appointment ends more than a year of fence-sitting and opens a fast track of crisis management window-dressing. The man and his party must show some results. Empty-handed, the Lytvyn Bloc stands little chance of being reelected in case Yushchenko unfreezes his snap parliamentary elections initiative. And by the way, Yushchenko has urged NUNS to abstain from the new coalition, blessed by Tymoshenko.

Gas deal stalls as debt lingers. Ukraine owes Russia $2.4B. Negotiations continue.

Baba Paraska got beaten. By Yushchenko’s security detail, as the main theory goes. Here, the iconic Orange Revolution vet tells a story of being assaulted by a group of men as she tried to get in touch with the President. The men grabbed her and hauled her into a car, hitting her in the shoulders and kidneys, Grandma Paraska, 69, says. Once the darling of Yushchenko and Orange patricians, she no longer gets the warm reception she got in the heyday of Maidan. After marketing himself as the “People’s President” in 2004, the Yushchenko of today rarely fraternizes with the “little Ukrainian,” the elixir of his presidency. Now that he pissed it all away, he obviously believes in the divine origin of power. The trouble is, the emperor has no clothes.

Hot water went off in Kyiv. It’s not just Russia who turns the heat off in winter. Starting Thursday, Kyivenergo, the local electricity company, turned off hot water in most Kyiv districts. Background: The local utility industry belongs to Kyivenergoholding, a company started in 2006 by the City Council and two Cyprus-registered partners: Densec Ltd, and Zarova Ltd (well represented in the City Council). Kyivenergoholding, in turn, owns three utility companies: Kyivgas, Kyivvodokanal, and Kyivenergo. Citing non-payment of Hr. 347M by Kyiv municipal authorities, Kyivenergo pulled the plug on most of the city, including about 200 HMOs, 300 kindergartens and 230 schools. You’d think Kyivites would take to the streets and put the water barons in hot water. Naw. So far, we have suffered in silence. President Yushchenko, Premier Tymoshenko and Mayor Chernovetsky have issued orders and made promises to restore hot water supplies. As of 10:20 Sunday morning (Kyiv time), the hot air in my apartment has yet to become hot water.

As of 11:54 Sunday morning, hot water has been restored.



elmer said...

I don't understand how the Kyiv City Council could have joint ownership of a Cyprus holding company, or even 2, with private corporations.

I do NOT understand how City Council members could be involved in the ownership of a city utility.

It is a blatant invitation to corruption.

It IS corruption.

The model in most other civilized countries is this:

- if a city owns a utility and provides a utility service, there is no private ownership involved

- if a private company provides a utility service such a gas, or electricity, then there is some sort of government regulation and oversight.

What am I missing here?

Nothing in Ukraine makes any sense - except that everything is CORRUPT!

elmer said...

Who are the people behing Kyivenergoholding, and the related companies?

Taras said...

How about you send Blagojevich to Kyiv for an internship;)?

As for the Kyivenergoholding ownership structure, here’s an interesting article in Ukrainian.

elmer said...

Well, Taras, to state the obvious, in the US, something is actually done about corruption.

Blagojevych is the latest, but not the only example, of a government official abusing the public trust in the US - with consequences.

Even President Clinton was not immune from a lawsuit by Paula Jones, an ordinary citizen, although at one point he did, in fact, try to interpose some sort of "executive immunity" as some sort of defense against her lawsuit.

You are right - Blagojevych, who tried to sell Obama's vacant Illinois US Senate seat to the highest bidder, is a rank amateur compared to the sovok-trained sharks in Ukraine.

Of course, I got a kick out of the comments on Radio Free Europe. When the good governor was first elected, as a son of Serbian immigrants, the Serbs went ballistic, calling him "our guy."

Now, the reaction in Serbia is - "well, Blagojevych was corrupted by the American system."

Muddle-headed stupid Serbs!

Taras said...

Power corrupts, even if it's not absolute.

And, yes, what an amateur he is compared to our pros!

You do have much healthier governance in America, but…shit happens.

elmer said...

Shit does indeed happen, Taras.

But in Ukraine, they have parliamentary immunity to keep on doing shit.

That doesn't happen in other civilized countries.

And in the US, not even the prez is above the law.

Anonymous said...

I understand anger about switching off of water.

But why are Ukrainians not innovative? I would buy a boiler in this case (small one, 100 - 200 liters) and heat my water on my one. As it is in almost all Western countries. To deliver hot water through long pipes is also not so economical.

Taras said...

Well, hot water/heating outages haven’t yet become the norm in wintertime Kyiv.

Otherwise, Kyivities would have already stocked up on boilers.

Still, not all Kyivites can afford this kind of innovation.

While Western infrastructure and purchasing power can hardly be compared to that of Ukraine, costs of living can be quite comparable.