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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tymoshenko Presidency: 47% Order, 53% Dictatorship, Studio Poll Says

From Gas Princess to Queen of Populism to Dictatress. She's coming home!

At a recent Shuster Live studio poll, 53% of respondents viewed a Tymoshenko presidency as dictatorship and 47% as order (or 64%-to-36% in the 18-25 audience). Instead of drawing the line between order and dictatorship, Tymoshenko blurred the line.

PM Yulia Tymoshenko: Savik, what makes you think that after all the chaos that grips politics, after all this disorder, irresponsibility — this whole, if you’ll excuse my non-parliamentary language, barking — people don’t want dictatorship? I already do want the country to have order, regimentation, and perhaps a sufficiently strong system of government, and not what we have today. [applause]
Savik Shuster, host: This…this here…wait, I have a little...I have...I have...I have...I too have...

Tymoshenko: And you absolutely have no idea: whether people want dictatorship or not — because they’re tired of it.
MP Iryna Akimova (PRU) [chimes in]: You saw it! Yulia Volodymyrivna wants dictatorship in our mass media!

Shuster: No, people probably…
Akimova: And she makes it happen, Savik. Or does she?

Shuster: I can’t hear you, sorry.
Akimova: You didn’t hear me? Yulia Volodymyrivna does want dictatorship. She just said it.

Shuster: I...
Akimova: And unfortunately, she wants it in the mass media.

Shuster: Excuse me, Iryna, I’m having a strict commercial break here, and after that Mykola Azarov will take the microphone.
Akimova [continues]: Because she doesn’t allow commentary to the interesting footage that we’ve seen on the screen. It’s called dictatorship, Savik. [show closes for commercial break]

Tymoshenko’s usage of the noun стрункість (stroon-kist) strikes me as particularly dictatorship-driven.

Literally, стрункість means slimness. In the above context, however, it sounds like a derivative of “Струнко!” (stroon-koh), which roughly equals “Parade rest!”
In Russian, they say “Смирно!” (smeer-noh). The Russian expression по стойке смирно refers to regimentation. Tymoshenko’s recent mega-Freudian slip, “I want, on behalf of Russia...sorry, on behalf of Ukraine” carries the point further.

If Tymoshenko wins, will we have “one law for all” or “one lady above all laws?” The same goes for the other lady: Yanukovych.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Tihipko: “Ukraine Has to be Strong!”

Serhiy Tihipko. A former banker. One of Ukraine’s richest men. Yanukovych’s 2004 campaign manager, who jumped ship once it became apparent that his boss had crashed and burned in the Orange Revolution.

A spoiler candidate in the 2010 campaign who painted Ukraine with teaser billboards such as “What will be the exchange rate in the fall?”

Serhiy Tihipko: We deserve a life in a rich country. We have fertile farmlands, a robust industry, an educated and hardworking people. What is our problem? Irresponsible government. Lack of professionalism and will. We must leave a rich country to our kids and grandkids. Ukraine needs will and responsibility. Ukraine needs a strong and professional government. Ukraine has to be strong!

A dead ringer for Kevin Spacey, isn’t he? Only a bit more serious. Or less.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Yalta European Strategy Gathers for 6th Annual Talkfest

All work and no play makes Pinchuk a dull boy. Why not hold a little carnival amid the big crisis?

YES is an international network established to promote the development of a just, free and prosperous Ukraine, to open the country to the rest of the world and to support Ukraine’s membership to the European Union.

Six annual YES meetings. Any results?

Has Ukraine improved its standing on world economic indexes? NO.
Has the EU eased its Schengen Curtain? NO.
Have the oligarchs invested a lot of money in energy-efficient technology? NO.
Have they started paying more and caring more about workplace safety? NO.
Have they separated business from government? NO.

Foreign participants:
Israeli President Shimon Peres (videoconferencing)
Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan (videoconferencing)
Former Russian ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin
Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer
Head of the IMF mission to Ukraine Ceyla Pazarbasioglu (“Ukraine does have a good social safety net.”)
Former Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski (permanent fixture)
Analyst Alexander Rahr (Yanukovych: Ukraine Remains Neutral, Ukraine Might Steal Gas Bound For Europe)
Analyst Anders Aslund (Leonid Kuchma Built a Prosperous Ukraine)

Ukrainian participants: Tymoshenko, Yanukovych, Yatsenyuk (presidential hopefuls).

Last year, they watched a movie called YES We Can. Unfortunately, that movie doesn't seem to be available on YouTube as advertised.

Instead, they have this:

So YES you can what? Keep Ukrainians down? Depopulate Ukraine further? Donate another $5M to the Clinton Foundation? Feed Ukraine to the Kremlin? Expand oligarch cartels overseas?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Russian Scenarios: Ukraine Starts the War

From Russia with love: a collection of Russian military fiction:

War 2010
The Ukrainian Front

by Fiodor Berezin (left)
The Epoch of the Stillborn

by Gleb Bobrov (right)

After the Battle — Ukraine
The Crushed Trident

by Georgiy Savitskiy (left)
Independent Ukraine
The Undoing of the Project (right)
by Maxim Kalashnikov, Sergei Buntovskiy

As Obama stimulates Putin’s reset button, the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is laying the groundwork for Operation Barbierossa (with Tymoshenko/Yanukovych as Barbie).

Who draws the first blood? Ukraine does. Any problems with that?

Remember: From the Soviet point of view, Finland started the Winter War; from the Nazi point of view, Poland started WW II.

Below are two fact-meets-fantasy scenarios outlined in a Russian television program, in which Ukraine gets repeatedly called “republic”— Soviet-style. (Since independence, Ukraine has no republic in its official name.)

Scenario 1

Anti-Russian western Ukrainian troops surge into Crimea like Nazis to terrorize the local Russian population. Kyiv cracks down on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, cutting off communications. Moscow sends in reinforcements from the neighboring Russian region of Kuban. Kyiv sends in reinforcements from neighboring Ukrainian oblasts.

Troop Strength

Russia: Black Sea Fleet troops, 14,000 + Novorossiysk marines, 4,000 + Kuban infantry, 5,000

Ukraine: Kerch Mechanized and Simferopol Artillery Brigade, 5,000 + two brigades from Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolayiv, 10,000 + special forces, 4,000

Russia leads in troops and warships; Ukraine leads in air defense: more than 100 SAM systems + more than 200 interceptor aircraft (“It’s a lot for the not-so-large territory of the republic.”)

Romania, Poland and Hungary step in “to support Yushchenko.” A NATO task force (10 warships) based in Poti and Batumi prepares to engage the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Turkey foments Crimean Tatar irredentism. (Kyiv supports Crimean Tatars in land conflicts and squatting against the Russian population of Crimea.)

Bottom Line

If Russia loses, Crimea will follow in Kosovo's footsteps, with the establishment of a pro-Ukrainian puppet regime supported by U.S. Navy bases. Turkey will like it. Projected war outbreak: Early 2010 (“to retain power, Viktor Yushchenko may opt for such provocations”).

Scenario 2

“Another scenario of developments is connected with another former Soviet republic: Georgia. If military conflict flares up on its territory again, it will mark the beginning of a war between Russia and Ukraine.”

Background: regular Ukraine-NATO military exercises + Ukraine’s arms supplies to Georgia

Bottom Line

If Ukraine loses, the country will fall apart. Russia will claim Crimea, along with the right to keep its Black Sea Fleet after the rental agreement expires in 2017. (The victory will be offset by international isolation and domestic crisis).

If Russia loses, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will leave Sevastopol and there will be no more Russian influence in Crimea.

The news anchor's caveat: Make no mistake, according to international norms, Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and I’m convinced that Russia will never fight for this territory. But Ukrainian politics of the last few years suggests that there are still some who are eager to provoke a conflict in the hope of the international community’s intervention, forgetful of the fact that managed conflicts are always fraught with heavy bloodshed. And there are always those willing to do the fighting. In fact, some Ukrainians, for years, have been fighting Russia, literally, and they’re not shy about it.
Background: UNA-UNSO’s involvement in Abkhazia, Chechnya and South Ossetia; Yushchenko’s decree celebrating “the centennial of Roman Shukhevych [1907-1950],” an officer of the SS, which killed “about 250,000 Jews, 1,000,000 Ukrainians, 500,000 Poles, 100,000 people of other ethnicities.”


Well, well, well. Does Shukhevych’s short-lived collaboration with Nazi Germany equal long-standing Soviet-Nazi cooperation? How does the training of Wehrmacht tank crews and Luftwaffe pilots (in Kazan and in Lipetsk respectively) compare to Shukhevych's resume?

What about the mustached blessing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? Of course, Ukraine gained in territory — populated mainly by Ukrainians — and lost 7,000,000 lives. Fair enough by the Kremlin's standards, right?

Now, why in the world would Yushchenko want to start a war with Russia? To give Russia the pretext for partitioning Ukraine?

Would Obama drop the reset button and rush to Ukraine’s defense should Russia start the war
much less should Ukraine start the war?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tymoshenko Credits Herself With Undue Criticism

Критикувати чи кредитувати: that is the question.

In Ukrainian, krytykuvaty means to criticize; kredytuvaty means to lend. In Tymoshenkian, the two words can be hilariously confusing — and food for Freudian slip lovers.

PM Yulia Tymoshenko: No matter how much they criticize my government and me personally — well, maybe they don’t know what to кредитувати...критикувати [quickly corrects herself] me for — so they criticize me for two things (thank God, there's nothing else to criticize me for): for my dresses and for the Ministry of Defense. Two extremes, aren’t they? As for the Ministry of Defense, I would like to make a point of how unfounded this criticism is.

She works hard for the money
So hard for it honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama Turns Missile Defense Into Stimulus Program for Kremlin

The U.S. Appeaser-in-Chief has produced yet another anticipointment. Apparently, stimulating Putin's reset button has become another sport in the Oval Office.

Yes, he can! He can talk. He can talk some more. And then he can toy with countries, including his own.

Mr. Obama, the more I watch you, the more I appreciate Zhirinovsky's vision — of you and of Ukraine.

So “watch Ukraine,” as John McCain put it.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pro-Tymoshenko Tour Kicks Off With Concert in Kyiv

Last Saturday, a bunch of Ukrainian artists sang their hearts out for Yulia Tymoshenko on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the heart of the Orange Revolution.

The event marked the opening of “З Україн❤Ю в сердці” (“With YU❤raine at Heart,”) a pro-Tymoshenko road show — a charitable one, according to the artists. (What else could we expect from a workaholic candidate who wears her heart on her sleeve and calls her campaign ads social advertising?)

Some of the artists, namely Natalia Mohylevska, Iryna Bilyk and Ani Lorak, have a history of endorsing Viktor Yanukovych, Tymoshenko’s main rival in the upcoming presidential election.

With YU
kraine at heart, it doesn’t matter who pay$ the piper.

Singer Natalia Mohylevska (a fan of Yanukovych in 2004): Let me repeat it again: I'll stay with my candidate till the very end. I'm not a bitch and I'm not a rat running from one place to another because it's worried and wants the next government to provide some, I don't know, benefits — the ones it can really provide.

And, of course, it was with YUkraine at heart that Tymoshenko planned to $educe Yanukovych into doing a grand coalition with her.

Interestingly, one could spot a few protesters in the cheering crowd.

Be sure to check out the stone-faced Yulia T-shirt on Iryna Bilyk.

This is sooooo Soviet! (except for the earrings)

Dear Yulia, sweetheart, let me add a few hit songs to your suggestion jukebox:

На просторах родины чудесной
(Песня о Сталине)
Для нас открыты солнечные дали (Песня о Сталине)
Жить стало лучше
Советский простой человек
Ленин всегда с тобой


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poll: 70% of Europeans, 68% of Americans Favor Providing Security Assistance to Ukraine, Georgia

That's what Transatlantic Trends says, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States ( and the Compagnia di San Paolo ( with additional support from Fundação Luso-Americana (, Fundación BBVA (, and the Tipping Point Foundation.

In 2009, seven-in-ten Europeans (70%) favor the European Union providing security assistance for emerging democracies such as Ukraine and Georgia. And a majority of Americans (68%) back Washington taking similar action. Strong majorities of NATO members (62%) and Americans (66%) favor NATO providing such assistance.

As a Ukrainian, I'm flattered but not at all placated.

Whatever the accuracy of the poll data, I consider such assistance unrealistic and unreliable. I take my cues from Moscow-first policies pursued in Washington and Berlin.

In the real world, Ukraine has only itself to rely on. And there's only one way Ukraine can deter aggression: renuclearize.

Faced with superior conventional forces on its northeastern border, Ukraine should build survivable nuclear forces capable of inflicting unacceptable damage in retaliation. If Pakistan can do it, so can Ukraine.

This would cost a lot of money but would save a lot of lives, on both sides.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zhirinovsky Favors Air Assault Over Bombing

The Kremlin has long tasked itself with protecting what it broadly calls “Russian-speaking people” throughout the former Soviet Union, especially in Ukraine. With a little bit of protection, some of these people become Russian citizens, eligible for further protection.

Like every urban Ukrainian born in the Russified Brezhnev era, I grew up speaking Russian. Do I need the Kremlin to protect me? No. And neither do my friends.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky clearly doesn’t think so.

State Russian Duma Vice Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky: Any armed forces, but used to protect. It doesn’t have to be a war, it doesn’t have to be bombing, but let them [Ukraine] know that at any moment Russian paratroopers will appear in the air...will make a landing and will force [Ukraine] into peace...and will protect the lives of our citizens.

Mr. Zhirinovsky, without the bombing, most of your paratroopers will be dead on arrival. Our air defense system will take its toll on your bombers as well.

Remember that Tu-22 and those three Su-25s? The ones you said we had shot down over Georgia?

So you’ll need a full-scale war to talk “peace” to us, and you’ll need a pretext for that. Which means that protecting “Russian-speaking people” has nothing to do with peace and everything to do with irredentism and aggression.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Yanukovych: “I Hear Everyone. And I’m Ready to Help Everyone.”

Presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych: You're seniors and worried about your pension. You’re young and concerned about unemployment. You’re a farmer and don’t know how to harvest your crops. You’re concerned about whether there’ll be heating in your home in the winter. You believe that the government only cares about how to stay in power. You feel betrayed and humiliated. I hear everyone. And I’m ready to help everyone.

He forgot to say:

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Angry Commie MP Dismikes Female Reporter

After years of low-profile behavior, MP Oleksandr Tkachenko (CPU), a former Speaker and 1999 presidential hopeful, steals the mike again. Literally.

The man who inspired famous campaign spoofs “Ткаченко зможе якщо Віагра допоможе” (“Tkachenko will make it if Viagra can shake it”) is still going strong.

Reporter: Hi! Can I ask you about your idea, the one you suggested yesterday, about keeping journalists out of the cafeteria? I mean, please tell us, what did you mean by that?
MP Oleksandr Tkachenko (CPU):
First of all, I didn’t say it... And who told you this?

STB Reporter:
We heard it on the Rada floor...

Tkachenko: I said that we need coverage — from our press, Rada [channel], radio, television, newspapers — uh...not just on parliament’s activities and those of MPs and the Verkhovna Rada cafeteria, but coverage on how the coal miners are working, how the folks in the countryside are working, how the teachers, the doctors, and so on are working. And rather than hang around here within the confines of the Verkhovna Rada, you should go out into the field.

Reporter: Ahem, you’re also saying that we should go?
Tkachenko: And the Verkhovna Rada, the Verkhovna Rada...I want you to go talk to the people — that’s all I want — you don’t have to go anywhere else. And once you go talk to the people, you’ll have things to talk about.

Reporter: And what does the cafeteria have to do with this?
Tkachenko: It just can’t...the Verkhovna Rada is not the whole life yet.

And what does the cafeteria have to do with this?
Tkachenko: The cafeteria is’ have this route: from the Verkhovna Rada hallway into the cafeteria, from the cafeteria into the Verkhovna Rada hallway. It’s not the whole life yet.

Reporter: So what? So what? What does the...
Tkachenko: [slams microphone, walks away]

Reporter: [pursues him] How does it...please tell us, why are you...fighting like that? Please tell us, how does…what did you mean meant that?

Reporter: [holds out microphone, microphone flies into MP Tkachenko’s face as he walks through doorway]
Tkachenko: Just put it away! Or I'll throw it away! [snatches microphone and throws it away]

The Zhirinovsky School of Media Relations would definitely love to have him on board.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tymoshenko Sizes Up Obama Strategists (Updated)

Senator Obama's visit to Ukraine in October 2005

If everybody does it, why can't Tymoshenko?

In late 2004, Yanukovych's Party of Regions set the trend when it cast its lot with Paul Manafort and Rick Davis of the GOP camp. By that time, as it recently turned out, Yanukovych had also done business with the folks who now run the American Institute in Ukraine.

In 2007, Yushchenko's NUNS, according to some sources, drew expertise from the Democratic talent pool, headed by James Carville, Bill Clinton's chief strategist.

In 2008, Tymoshenko became involved with Kenneth Murphy, an American lobbyist who reportedly followed her to high-level bilateral talks — without having a security clearance.

She now has expanded her horizons. Please welcome her new would-be partner, AKPD Message and Media, the company whose A stands for Axelrod, that is, David Axelrod, Obama's right-hand man!

So alleges King Makers for Tymoshenko, an Ukrayinska Pravda article by Mustafa Nayem. The author claims having obtained a PowerPoint presentation from a source whose identity he does not want to compromise.

A task force of 9 professionals will be dispatched to Kyiv to handle Tymoshenko’s campaign strategy. Nayem names a few names: Larry Grisolano, Jeff Link, Joe Goldberg, David Humphreville.

Learn more in a follow-up article.

Hmmm...will they, too, be peddling tiger-braid-themed paraphernalia to school kids?

In the follow-up article, published today, Nayem names a few more names:

John Anzalone, “the best pollster you’ve never heard of” (Washington Post)
Peter Giangreco, local staffing (a top consultant to Blagojevich’s campaigns)
Paul Neville, campaign scheduling
Andrew Bleeker, online campaigning
Michael Organ, online campaigning

If Tymoshenko says yes, we'll have a Yes, She Can campaign, run by a foreign government.

This should make even Yanukovych blush, hopefully.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ukraine Low on 'Prices and Earnings' by UBS

More mapping — this time from UBS, Europe's second-largest bank or “the world's biggest manager of other people's money” as The Economist calls it. (Well, there’s no escaping death and taxes.)

First published in 1971, Prices and Earnings offers a gauge of what people make and what they can buy with it, in any given city.

This nuanced comparison of purchasing power around the globe is a must-read for pundits who keep tabs on the Big Mac Index, Mercer cost of living surveys, GfK purchasing power studies, etc.

So where does Kyiv rank? Not very high.

On average, it takes 82 hrs of work to buy an iPod Nano in Kyiv, compared to 10.5 hrs in Toronto, 9 hrs in New York, 36 hrs in Moscow and 45.5 hrs in Warsaw.