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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yushchenko Talks to Himself

He expects Ukraine to post a 20-23% GDP contraction in Q1. He bewails the country's 145th position on the Doing Business 2009 index. He even elaborates on Lenin’s famous quote “You’re on the right path, comrades!”

Who is he? A former communist. A former banker. A former PM. A former MP. Ukraine’s current president. A man who vowed to separate business from government, put the corrupt ones in jail and lead Ukraine up the economic ladder.

President Yushchenko: The World Bank gives the following estimates of the attractiveness of the entrepreneurial environment: Ukraine, based on 2008 figures, occupies the 145th position...[long pause]...145th...out of, 175 countries analyzed in the given group. Before that, a year ago, we ranked 139th. So I just want to say that, “You’re on the wrong path, comrades!”

There’s another one: the Index of Economic Freedom. Ukraine ranks 152nd out of the 179 countries surveyed.

It’s the economy, Mr. President! It's the obsolete, commodity-cursed, energy-inefficient, oligarch-controlled economy. And you don’t preach Capital when you meet with the oligarchs, do you?

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elmer said...

Taras, I think it is the duty of the President to openly talk about the economy.

And, certainly, there is something wrong in Ukraine.

Does Yushchenko propose a solution? Wellllll, that may be a different matter...

Now, as far as him receiving a soccer jersey from Akhmetov, a Donetsk Coal Miner jersey, the team that just won the UEFA Championship -

well, politicians do frequently bask in the reflected glory and limelight of sports teams' wins.

Example - the Prez of the US meets with the Super Bowl champions, or the NCAA college basketball champions, etc.

True, the owners typically don't hog the spotlight, and the US Prez usually doesn't receive a team jersey from the owner.

But, you're right, more deeply and very troubling are Yushchenko's buddying up to the likes of Akhmetov and Firtash, etc.

Now, to his credit, Yushchenko was instrumental at re-privatizing the steel mill obtained in a crooked bid by Akhmetov - Krivorizhstal, which was then acquired for a few billion dollars by Mittal Steel in open bidding. (Akhmetov and buddies had acquired the steel mill for a song, comparatively speaking.)

So, although I'm sure that his comments about the economy are meant, indirectly, to throw slings and arrows at Tymoshenko, on whose watch the economy is sinking, nevertheless, to his credit, he's publicizing credible facts and figures.

Which, in the past, as you know, was not done.

In fact, the government of Ukraine recently stopped publicizing some economic indicators.

Keep the heat on, Taras!

Taras said...

Thank you, Elmer!

Yushchenko tends to associate himself with Ukraine’s successes while dissociating himself from Ukraine’s failures.

Unfortunately, the failures greatly outnumber the successes.

Of course, the resale of Krivorizhstal marked one of Yushchenko’s few successes as Ukraine’s president.

In 2004, under Kuchma, Krivorizhstal sold for $800M, in a bidding process that favored FC Shakhtar’s owner and Kuchma’s son-in-law.

In 2005, under Yushchenko, Krivorizhstal fetched a whopping $4.8B, in a truly open bid, and went to Mittal Steel.

It’s all downhill from here.

Yushchenko surrounded himself with cronies and oligarchs. And so did Tymoshenko. Nobody went to jail. No reforms took place. All we had was infighting and intrigues.

Yushchenko should talk about his role in this mess.

Four years into the country’s No.1 job — and a heartbeat away from losing it — he should finally stop lecturing and start leading. A GDP contraction of 20-23% in Q1 is a good place to start. It’s a skeleton that Tymoshenko just can’t keep in her closet.

Lame ducks can be quite helpful if they keep their feet on the ground and do something positive during their last months in office. If I were Yushchenko, I’d start delivering on my 2004 campaign promises right away

Unfortunately, Yushchenko is not delivering. He’s deluding himself.

Anonymous said...

of course Yush is not delivering - he can't - he's not a in a position to do very much. He doesn't control Parliament or any of law enforcements agencies. (yes for the time being he does control the army!) Can he put people in jail? if so who and how exactly? Stop judges taking bribes? Pass any laws? Re-do the budget? Perhaps you could be a bit more specific - what exactly can he do and how exactly?

Taras said...

As of today, President Yushchenko controls the SBU, the Security Service of Ukraine (33,500-strong, as of 2007).

This is the largest law enforcement agency in Ukraine after the Ministry of Internal Affairs. By comparison, as of September 30, 2008, the FBI had a total of 31,244 employees.

The SBU has jurisdiction over corruption crimes, conducts investigations and arrests suspects. In addition to the Army and the SBU, Yushchenko also has influence over certain courts.

Yushchenko’s corruption fighting record? 0.0001.

The only high-profile cases I can recall during the last four years are that of Borys Kolesnikov and Ihor Zvarych. The former turned out to be an innocent man; the latter will probably serve a two-year term at best.

In 2005, right after the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko had full control of law enforcement. In March 2006, Orange parties won a majority in the Rada. Yet Yushchenko chose not to deliver on his promises. Instead, he would cater to his cronies, award Kuchma regime officials, and scheme for a grand coalition.

He rekindled some hope when he dissolved parliament in April 2007. However, his agenda didn't change — even after the September 2007 parliamentary election, which resulted in a razor-thin Orange majority.

He made his choice. He single-digitized his approval ratings. By now, it’s impossible to undo all the damage.

But if I were him, I’d try to work out an exit strategy that would undo some of the damage. I'd try to set a positive example for others to follow.

I’d put my corruption first. I’d rid the SBU of the RosUkrEnergo lobby. Then, I would order the SBU to pursue every corrupt enterprise in the Ukrainian government.

Unfortunately, a born-again Yushchenko is too fragile a fantasy. The real Yushchenko is doing quite the opposite, light years away from his 2004 promises.

His pick for chief of staff speaks volumes about his ethical standards. He doesn’t care about ethics. All he cares about is elections.

He wants someone with the promise of a second term — without having to deliver on the promises of his first term.

elmer said...

Yushchenko is a blithering idiot -

he just awarded a damn medal to Dovhy, personal butt boy of the lunatic mayor of Kyiv, Chernovetsky.

What the hell is he thinking with that one?