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Friday, April 30, 2010

Putin: ‘I Would Eat Both Yanukovych And…Aaaand…’

Last year, a Russian news anchor called President Medvedev “Prime Minister of Russia.” Even more hilariously, he then called PM Putin by his previous job title: “President.”

As if in revenge, during his recent inspection of Kyiv, Putin degraded Yanukovych and even entertained the idea of cannibalizing him.

Putin: The price that...uh...that they rolled out at us — to me it was completely off the charts. For this amount of money, I would eat both Yanukovych and...aaaaaand your president combined. But...I really...but the money is military base in the world is worth that much money. There’s no price like that.

Mr. Putin, do you have a name for that “president” of ours? Does he know you'd eat him along with Yanukovych?

Let me guess. You meant that bad guy Yushchenko, right? He’s not our president anymore! Besides, he still may have some dioxin left in him.

But if you want both Yushchenko and Yanukovych, be my guest.

Need an appetizer? Try Chicken Kiev Chicken Obama and his audaciously hopeful uranium-over-democracy sauce.

Hell, you can even digest this retro book of recipes:

Recently, I returned from a trip to Ukraine, where I had the opportunity to meet the nation's third president, Viktor Yushchenko. Since the country first broke away from the Soviet Union more than a decade earlier, Ukraine has been trying to forge its own identity and assert its own independence from Russia. This culminated earlier this year in the Orange Revolution, a mass demonstration from thousands of protestors who stood by Yushchenko and his promise to move his country further from the sphere of Russian influence.

President Yushchenko finally won. But today, Ukraine remains almost entirely dependent on - guess who -- Russia - for all it's oil and gas supplies. And it is widely expected that in anticipation of next year's parliamentary elections, Russia will triple the prices of both. Despite all the soaring rhetoric, the demonstrations and the courage, Ukraine still finds itself at the mercy of its former patron - a nation that can now influence every political and economic decision they make - all because of oil.

This will not be America's future - but this is the stranglehold that fossil fuels can have on a nation's freedom. Ukraine may have little choice in the matter. The most powerful and wealthy nation on earth, teeming with brilliant minds and cutting-edge technology, surely does. The genius of the American people has already shown us the path towards energy independence, now they're just waiting for their government to take them there. Let's finally get it done. Thank you.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Parliament Ratifies Gas-for-Fleet Pact As Thousands Protest

Rihanna picked the wrong country for her “Umbrella” video.

Eggs, smoke grenades flew in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday as the umbrella-covered majority ratified the Medvedev-Yanukovych Pact.

The unconstitutional treaty that gives Ukraine’s oligarchs gas discounts and extends the presence of Russia's Black Sea Fleet until 2042 gathered 236 votes.

That included absentee MPs Kivalov and Holovaty, members of the ruling Party of Regions.

Outside, thousands of people rallied against the treaty and wrestled with police.

Amid the struggle and mayhem inside, opposition leaders failed to communicate with the protesters outside. In the absence of live coverage, the protesters relied on cell phones and portable radios.

Thus, the protesters on the ground found themselves a little out of touch with the ones on the Rada floor.

Tymoshenko, Yatsenyuk, Hrytsenko, Lutsenko...
From my side of the rally, none of them was seen or heard.

I, for one, did a lot of fence-sitting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Scenes from Chernobyl Drama ‘Распад’ (1990) Filmed in Kyiv

Do you know any films about Chernobyl other than non-fiction? I know only one.

Most of what I know about Chernobyl comes from non-fiction. It comes from the people on the ground. The people who risked and sacrificed their lives. The people who will be remembered.

I know only one movie that does Chernobyl justice. It’s called Распад (Rah-spah-d).

This irony-packed perestroika-era drama offers an X-ray of Soviet crisis mismanagement. In scenes of heart-wrenching innocence and poignance, it recreates the chain of events: from the comfort zone to the danger zone.

From quiet to chaos. From communism to collapse.

Filmed here.

It bursts the bubble of a blissful and unsuspecting populace that, in the middle of spring, goes about its business the day after. Grown-ups get married. Kids play soccer. (I too played soccer, just 70 miles south of Chernobyl, in Kyiv.)

In its starkest scenes, the film captures the misery of the evacuees.

Filmed here and here.

The evacuation of Prypyat (the town where the nuclear power plant workers lived) took a back seat to regimentation. With radiation at peak levels, authorities waited for orders from Moscow and delayed evacuation efforts in an air of secrecy.

It wasn’t until 36 hours after the accident that the evacuation began (a temporary evacuation, as the announcement said). Thousands of families boarded buses and left their homes, never to return again.

Filmed here.

The “lost boy” scene relies on hyperbole to drive the point home emotionally: A latchkey kid doesn’t get on the bus. Instead, he stays and waits for his mom to come home from work. The main character, a reporter, spots the boy during a flyover of Prypyat (now a ghost town) as he writes this: “Mom! I’ve come home. Come. I [interrupted].”

Распад can be translated as decay, disintegration or breakup. It’s the main theme of the film. Chernobyl delivered a shock to the Soviet system and, as it soon turned out, became a catalyst in its breakup.

Somehow, I only discovered Распад last year, almost two decades after its filming by the Dovzhenko Film Studios in 1990. I was 10 at the time.

I find this movie very special because it takes me back to my childhood. It takes me back to my home city of Kyiv, my home district of Obolon, my neighborhood.

That’s where they filmed all these scenes. And that’s where I live.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

$100/30% Gas Discount Means Russia’s Fleet Stays Until 2042

Reform #3: America wins, Russia wins, oligarchy wins, Ukraine loses.

Ever since Tymoshenko signed that whorrible gas deal with Putin in 2009, Yanukovych couldn’t control himself.

In fact, he raced so fast to meet with Medvedev that his motorcade ambulance killed this man.

In Kharkiv, where the two presidents met, most Ukrainian reporters got booted from the joint press conference. The Russian ones stayed on and didn’t misbehave, which made it easy for both presidents.

Yanukovych finds it easy to give away what doesn’t belong to him.

Just nine days after he promised to rid Ukraine of a few bombs’ worth of enriched uranium — worth over $1B — the same story happens again.

No prior public discussions. No questions asked. No cost-benefit analyses. Except this one:

Medvedev: Our Ukrainian partners will receive a gas discount in the amount of...uh...$100 if the price of gas is higher than $330 per 1,000 cubic meters, and, if the price is lower, 30% off the contract price. [takes a deep breath] This discount, accordingly, is a real resource that will be at our Ukrainian partners’ disposal.

Yanukovych (ProFFessor of Economics): In the following 10 years, Ukraine…will receive a real investment resource that, our experts estimate, it...will be...provided by Russia to Ukraine in the form of this...uh...resource aid, specifically gas, worth…this sum totals approximately about $40B. The Black Sea Fleet will be one of the security guarantors...among the Black Sea basin countries. And we support President Medvedev’s review the issue review the concept of European collective security.

Medvedev (waxes Putinesque): A real partnership step. Both on the part of Russia and on the part of Ukraine. It is the step we’ve been expecting for a long time. It is these actions that provide a test of true intentions of neighbors, friends, relatives...countries dear to us. [takes a deep breath] And Ukraine took that step today, as did the Russian Federation.

So here’s the deal: The oligarchs get the “resource aid” they need, and the slaves get the stabilnist they deserve.

Last, but definitely not least: The deal violates the Constitution of Ukraine.

Article 17 bars foreign military bases from operating on Ukrainian territory. There’s only one exception: “the existing military bases on the territory of Ukraine,” as stipulated in the transitional provisions.

Target ratification date: April 27. If the fleet-for-gas deal overwrites the 1997-2017 lease agreement, then Yanukovych should **** the Constitution and Parliament one more time.

Which probably means that the deal will be effective as long as Yanukovych remains omnipotent.

Meanwhile, the opposition has set out to impeach Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko calls for an emergency session to be held Saturday and welcomes everyone to an opposition rally.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Approved! A Blowout Sellout of Ukraine

Reform after reform, Ukraine is becoming a stable East-West bridge.

From bad to worse. From debt hole to f**k hole.

Cabinet spokeswoman Olena Bondarenko: And as for privatization, I think both young and old politicians are now aware that the state is baaank-ruuupt! Please tell me, what do they do the property of a bankrupt? They seeell iiit ooout! [Denysova blushes, Yatsenyuk boos] And in this particular case...and in this particular case, what they say about effective management...

Yatsenyuk: That’s gross!

Bondarenko: Yes, I agree, we should try...but in this particular case, we also have huge debt obligations that weren’t made by us, that weren’t invented by us. And in this particular case, we will be paying back these debts.


You can be sure the Bondarenkos will pay back their share.

Andriy Bondarenko (hubby) made the Top 5 Nepotist Jobs in the Government. They appointed him Deputy Minister of Emergency Management.

And so did Herman’s son, Mykola Korovitsyn, 30, another Deputy Minister of Emergency Management. Experience: mom’s driver.

He could learn a thing or two from MP Yanukovych Jr., 28, one of Ukraine’s finest lawmakers, since 2006.

BREAKING NEWS: In exchange for a 30% gas discount, Russia's Black Sea Fleet will stay in Crimea, Ukraine, until 2042.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Herman Dozes Off on Shuster Live

The Nuclear Servility Summit claims its first jet-lag victim.

Mr. President, how can you treat your public relations nanny like this? She's so unstable.

If you ever need a more stable travel companion, try Staby.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Staby (A Quality of Government Report)

Hi guys! I want you to meet my little friend.

It’s a dead dog. Dead since last Friday (Apr. 9).
I call her Staby (as in stabilnist). She can be found here.

Naturally, the municipal hotline didn’t help. The CDC didn’t even answer calls.

Hour after hour, day after day, the beach gets visits from unsuspecting kids and carefree adults. That’s where they run into Staby.

I’ve been picking up plastic bags and bottles on Kyiv beaches for about a year. I’ve even buried a few birds. (We don’t have a reliable service to take care of dead animals or roadkill. Most of the time, they just rot away on the streets or become car-pressed steaks on the highway.)

I gave up on Staby. She’s too heavy and too much of a health hazard. You can smell her from a distance of 50 meters if the wind blows your way.

Ironically, the bay goes by the name of Sobache Hyrlo (Dog's Throat). Here's what it looks like in the summer.

Back to Staby, I last saw her on Thursday evening, half-submerged. With the water rising, she may sail away tomorrow. Too bad she won’t reach Koncha-Zaspa.

Mr. Yanukovych, I know you hear everyone. Why don’t you pick up Staby and take her to the White House, along with the enriched uranium?

Or maybe we should keep her as a tourist attraction for Euro 2012?

Mr. Yanukovych, my offer remains open for you until further notice.

As of April 20, Staby appears to be gone. Gone in 950,400 seconds.

Tons of Dead Fish Rot Away on Dnipro

When Ukraine’s elites dumped water from the dam to rescue their splendid riverfront villas from spring flooding, tons of fish died.

Trapped under heavy ice in receding coastline waters, some of the fish became fair game for hordes of fishermen.
With the ice gone now, the rest of the fish litters the Kyiv Sea coastline — in what looks and smells like a miles-long mass grave.

Naturally, it’s no disaster, as far as the government is concerned. They didn’t notice it. They still don't notice it. It’s not their job. Thus, no cleanup effort has been undertaken.

As the fish decompose and pollute the water, Kyiv’s supply of drinking water remains safe and under control, authorities say. Just a little smelly, but that’s OK.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Citizen Diplomacy: A Ukrainian Citizen’s Look at U.S.-Ukrainian Relations

Dear Uncle Sam,

You care about your country. You care about denuclearizing everyone but yourself and your allies. You made it happen in Ukraine.

When my country gave up its nukes — the world’s third-largest arsenal — it didn’t happen in a referendum. It didn’t happen in a classroom. It happened in Kuchma’s bedroom.

You treasured my country’s ability to trade its national interests for nothing but IMF loans and some aid.

As you know, the loans did us no good and the aid fell short of delivering the results it did in Eastern Europe. After all, from your Moscowcentric point of view, Ukraine’s “fledgling democracy” didn’t belong in Europe. The State Department pigeonholed us into “Eurasia” (Non-West/Little Russia), a class from which we never really graduated.

Bottom line, you took advantage of Ukraine at a tender age.

Any idea what this map depicts?

In an ideal world, you should have kept your IMF loans/aid, and we should have kept some of our nukes. We should have developed in a different way politically, economically and militarily.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Now what about foresight?

By continuing to take advantage of Ukraine whenever you can, you’re turning friends of America into a scarce commodity here.

The more Ukraine gets raped at home and abroad, the more we Ukrainians will remember it. The more you support our corrupt leaders, the more we’ll resist it. And once the pendulum swings in our favor — in the Ukraine-first favor — we’ll try to do it right. We’ll try not to repeat the mistakes of the Orange era.

And you guys will try
to defuse a stockpile of enriched anti-Western sentiment.


Yanukovych Sells Out Ukraine’s Weapons-Grade Uranium

Ukraine (the world’s #1 pisseful nation) made headlines at the Nuclear Servility Summit.

After nuking Ukraine’s Constitution, President Yanukovych swapped a few bombs’ worth of enriched uranium for a sniff of support from Washington, plus change.

Who says free trade doesn’t work?

Some Ukrainian Americans (who obviously identify with Ukrainian culture but American interests) gave Yanukovych a warm welcome.

I don't blame you for praising the man's “чудові ідеї” (great ideas). After all, it’s a zero-sum game: You keep your nukes, we give up ours. You support our government, we suffer from it. You win, we lose.

That’s the way U.S.-Ukrainian relations work.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Yushchenko's Wife Misillustrated as Kaczynski's Wife on

Talk about human error.


The video soon disappeared from the Channel 1 website, but no apologies have been made.

I’m not a big fan of Kateryna Yushchenko or Viktor Yushchenko.

Do the math: The president of Poland used a medium-range Soviet Tu-154 made in 1990.
By contrast, Yushchenko had inherited a fleet of six jets: from aging Soviet Tu’s and Il’s to a Ukrainian Аn-74TK-300VIP made in 2003.

In 2007, Yushchenko purchased a long-range Airbus A319 — complete with bars, bedrooms and showers — at an estimated taxpayer cost of $40-$60M. Meanwhile, Libya and the UAE ordered two medium-range An-74’s from Ukraine at a cost of $12M apiece.

(Nominal GDP per capita: Poland, $13K; Libya, $10K; UAE, $47K; Ukraine, $3K.)

That said, I wonder what kind of coverage Channel 1 would come out with if one of our channels erred like this.

(By the way, it’s not the first time this happens to public figures from Ukraine.)

The tragedy at Smolensk has provoked a lively discussion online.

As civil-minded people express condolences and ask questions, the-not-so-civil trash Poland, Russia and, naturally, Ukraine.

Monday will be a day of mourning in Ukraine.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Court Greenlights Unconstitutional Coalition

Reform #2: The Constitution of Ukraine shall be a concubine of President Yanukovych.

When the Macho in Chief tells you he’ll accept any ruling, you don’t want to upset him.

If you're the Prosti...uh, sorry, Constitutional Court, you can’t resist the temptation to reverse your previous “final” rulings (in case they might upset him). You listen to your inner voice, the voice of the boldest profession.

So from now on, rules of order shall be the supreme Law of the Land, subject to arbitrary amendment by President Yanukovych.

Congratulations, Mr. President! Your prayers have been answered! Long live the Coalition of Carcasses!

Odna palka, dva struna,

Ya khozyain vsya strana!

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

No More Russian-to-Ukrainian Dubbing on National TV is becoming an affiliate of

If you’re a post-Soviet-born Ukrainian who lives in Ukraine, you better learn Russian. Why? Because the Russians, Russified Ukrainians and some other people who have lived in Ukraine for generations don’t want to learn Ukrainian. Fair enough?

Take the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTCU). Neither its president, Yevhen Benkendorf, nor its vice president, Walid Harfouch, speaks Ukrainian.

Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk does speak Ukrainian, and God knows how much he hates it. In a bid to preserve the legacy of Russification, he wants to stop mandatory dubbing of foreign language movies into Ukrainian.

He has already revoked mandatory Ukrainian language exams for students completing their bachelor degrees. He says it’s the European way.

Well, the French would disagree, and so would some Germans.

Back to Ukraine, the list of reforms goes on:

No more Institute of National Security Problems
No more National Institute of International Security
No more interministerial NATO membership preparations сcommission
No more Euro-Atlantic integration center
No more rallies without arrests

Congratulations Rick Davis, Paul Manafort, Phil Griffin and the Appeasement Institute in Ukraine! You’ve just won your magic Pobeda ride!

Buckle up, Uncle Sam!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Greetings: Yanukovych, Azarov, Lytvyn, Tymoshenko

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome The 30 Pieces of Silver Band!

Why 30? There are 29 ministers in the new government, all of them men. The woman didn't make it. She’s on her own.

So, in this particular quartet, we have three men in a USSR 2-bound boat and one woman in a yellow-blue submarine.

Yanukovych: mentions the diaspora (presumably, the last wave of labor migration); talks reconstruction, honesty, “ideals of truth and goodness.”

Azarov: enjoy the art of broken Ukrainian from a man who has lived in Ukraine for decades and has occupied senior government positions.

Lytvyn: very slow (are those $4.3K cufflinks wrapped too tight?).

Tymoshenko: dresses like a pysanka, smiles, talks “victories of good over evil,” “light over darkness,” urges “faith, love and hope” over “greed and fear.”

After studying the initials in these four names, I arrived at what looks like a coded message: YALT. Could this be a distress signal from Yalta European Strategy?

They really need to get their strategy in order. Maybe a few more guest speakers? Let me think. How about James Baker, Warren Christopher, Al Gore or Michel Camdessus?

George H. W. “Chicken Kiev” Bush could repeat his trademark skydive. I’m sure he wouldn’t miss Mezhyhirya or some oligarch’s helipad in Koncha-Zaspa.

I just don’t get it. If giving Ukraine the finger was right, then what’s wrong with Ukraine giving in to Russia?

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Govt OKs Stalin Monument, Flirts With USSR 2

As Washington cautiously OKs our new government, that government OKs things that make some in Washington feel all the more cautious.

In Zaporizhia, local communists plan to erect a monument to Stalin.

That’s the same Stalin who killed millions of Ukrainians (and Russians, for that matter).

Vice PM Volodymyr Semynozhenko doesn’t object.
After all, he supports a union of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

That’s an old idea championed by the Kremlin and shared by millions of elderly and Russified Ukrainians in and outside of our government.

Those who oppose the idea (such as the Belarusian ambassador to Russia, who supports a customs union only) can go where the sun don’t shine. The Kremlin doesn't mince words.

What's in it for Ukraine? No more silly borders issues. No more borders. No more Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Strobe Talbott tells Ukraine that non-alignment (read: alignment with Russia) doesn’t work.
WTF? Has the Russia-first desk run out of vodka? Have you guys been playing a sobering version of the domino theory?

Maybe you could use Obama’s “reset button” and Clinton’s “sweet harvest” to keep the dominoes from falling?

Or maybe Bill Clinton could replace Stephen Byers as Yalta European Strategy chairman of the board?

Viktor Pinchuk and Damien Hirst could turn it into some art form that resembles Ukraine’s rule of law, European integration and prosperity.

And, of course, the Prostitutional Court would then adopt it as a mascot, upon issuing a clean bill of health to the Coalition of Carcasses.

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