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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gazprom Strengthens Spiritual Ties with Belarus, Ukraine, Russian Orthodox Clergy Believes

Reddite igitur quae sunt Caesaris Caesari et quae sunt Dei Deo. (Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.)

Ever been to a country where God takes orders from the Caesar? Welcome to Russia! An organization called the International Fund for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples seems to have no qualms about basing its ecumenical judgment on current geopolitical trends. You’re gonna love this. In doling out annual awards, the board of governors at the IFUOP has picked the Russian gas monopoly as an icon of promoting Christian values.

For Patriarch Alexy, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who happens to preside over the IFUOP, the publicity stunt breaks no new ground.

Since times immemorial, the Orthodox clergy has been in lockstep with the Kremlin’s policy, using every opportunity to adorn the Caesar with Christian confetti. Most of the episcopate spared by the Bolsheviks ended up on KGB payrolls, a trend that showed no signs of stopping after the collapse of communism.

Alexy’s Orthodox brethren in Ukraine and Belarus should pray for his soul, for the IFUOP’s choice certainly strikes many of them as an outrageous pinnacle of absurdity.

This New Year, Gazprom is holding a spiritual déjà vu workshop with Belarus.

Suggested New Year’s resolution for the IFUOP: diversify into the indulgence business. If Rome did it in the Middle Ages, why can’t you in the Information Age? Gazprom got gas to burn. God bless Gazprom!

P.S. Perhaps honoring Saddam with a posthumous award for resisting the enemy of the Orthodox peoples would not be amiss.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Limoboy Yanukovych Escorts Putin Out of Yushchenko’s Office

The lackluster Yushchenko-Putin meeting ended with a blockbuster starring Yanukovych.

Mindful that the walls on Bankova have ears, and careful not to infringe on President Yushchenko’s foreign policy prerogative, President Putin and Premier Yanukovych went one-on-one Beverly Hills-style.

Reporters covering the event sighted the Don of Donbas speeding away in Putin’s Pullman, a custom-built Mercedes airlifted from Moscow, where he presumably accompanied the Russian guest to Boryspil Airport. Details of the conversation were not immediately available. It should be noted that the two have a rather bizarre relationship built on rejected candies and premature congratulations.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to ride in Vladimir’s armored sleigh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turkmenbashi Meets His Maker

Saparmurat "Father of the Turkmen" Niyazov, 66, the semi-godlike leader of the gas-rich Turkmenistan, passed away last night, Reuters reports.

His sudden death after twenty years of rule over the Central Asian former Soviet Union republic reduces the cadre of Gorbachev-era Genghis Khans down to two, Islom Karimov of Uzbekistan and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. It leaves the bereaved country with a grotesque personality cult that rivals Stalin’s.

The late President-for-life Niyazov can be rightfully considered a 21st-century embodiment of Big Brother.

Turkmenbashi, whose highfalutin self-title has made him political shorthand for authoritarianism, followed his subjects almost everywhere. He followed them on the streets and in facilities that bear his name; in parks and squares that exhibit his statues; in pockets full of — or rather, not-so-full-of — manat, the Turkmen national currency that glorifies his face. In fact, the Turkmen may not be the only people he pursued in this universe. A meteorite named after him may well be carrying some sort of ambassadorial aura to extraterrestrial civilizations.

Back on earth, Turkmenbashi’s communication strategy reached way beyond his realm. With “Ruhnama,” an ultra-Leviathan farrago of folklore and philosophy, Niyazov took a dive into the global book business. Thanks to a steady stream of gas revenues, this supposedly ghostwritten masterpiece has been translated into 30 languages. What a way to spend money!

“Ruhnama,” a must-read for the pubescent Machiavellis of the world, comes as a red-blooded addition to the “Despot Dreamers” library of such works as Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book,” Kim Il-Sung’s “Juche,” and Kuchma’s “Ukraine Is Not Russia.” Sascha Baron Cohen should be gnashing his teeth for picking the wrong country.

Niyazov walked out of this life having secured a higher rate for gas exports to Russia. Starting next year, Russia will shell out $100 per 1000 cubic meters, up from $60.

A tight and highly profitable web of interrelationships characterizes Eurasian politics. Through the Russian pipeline, Turkmenistan supplies most of the gas consumed in Ukraine. Russia, in turn, exports its own gas to Europe through the Ukrainian pipeline, while importing cheaper gas from Turkmenistan to cover domestic demand.

Questions abound: Will Vlad the Impaler manage to drill his proboscis into a demoralized gas kingdom? What’s in the pipeline for Ukraine? How will Turkmenbashi’s death affect Europe’s energy equation? Hopefully, one day the people of Turkmenistan will wake up and put their idols where they belong.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kefirman Azarov to Rada Minority: "Screw You!"

Elitism aside, emotions can be just as hard to contain for Vice Premier Mykola Azarov. Seeking support needed to override the presidential budget veto, Kefirman came soliciting before the Verkhovna Rada.

Rumors of BYuT’s Faustian deal with the Anticrisis Coalition did little to alleviate the heightened speech anxiety he must have experienced due to the polarity in the audience. It didn’t take long before his rhetorical molecules reached the boiling point. With a bad-tempered yet non-offensive hand gesture, Kefirman shot back at his scoffers, “Da poshli vy!”

What followed was a tornado of laughter and mock applause from BYuT and NSNU. “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself,” as Madonna put in “Human Nature.”

Azarov has already discovered a lyrical niche in the anatomy of Russian-Ukrainian relations. His thanksgiving single “For Distinguished Service in Reviving Ukraine,” devoted to Russian MP Konstantin Zatulin, topped Ukraine’s political Billboard.

In fact, the single was more of an award, as it came in the form of a medal of honor — custom-commissioned by Azarov. Wait until you hear this. Konstantin Zatulin, the beneficiary, currently ranks on the SBU’s persona non grata list for meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs.

Perhaps, if maestro Azarov sat on the Board of Governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he would backorder an Oscar for Osama bin Laden.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

You Voted a Strange Person, or "Got Kefir?"

The strange person is Mykola Azarov, Vice Premier and Finance Minister in the Yanukovych Cabinet.


Появляется мнение о том, что якобы существуют такие проекты, от которых нужно отказаться, и нужно экономику развивать через увеличение потребления кефира нашими пенсионерами. Я задаю себе простое питання: сколько надо кефира дополнительно выпить нашим пенсионерам, чтобы построить мост через реку Днепр?"
One school of thought has it that there are projects out there that we should forgo, and that we build the economy through increased consumption of kefir (fermented milk) by our seniors. Now here’s a simple question I ask myself: How much more kefir does it take our seniors to build a bridge across the Dnipro?
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? If you voted PRU, contact your representative and invite him or her to a kefir party.

BLT, or “Better living today,” (Yanukovych’s campaign slogan) could definitely make a smashing success in the world of kefir brands.

How about this: BLT. Bringing Lives Together. Every time you vote.

Mouthwatering, isn’t it? Enjoy responsibly.

Brought to you by Yanukovych and Co.

Baby Killers, Inc: Ukraine’s Ethical Chernobyl

Following a gory BBC report that put Ukraine as the world’s No. 1 stem cell supplier, the Ukrainian Healthcare Ministry has issued a denial.

The story picked up with a footage of a post mortem exam dating back to 2003, conducted on the bodies of newborns and fetuses exhumed in a probe into a Kharkiv maternity hospital.

Judging by the nature of prior surgical interventions discovered during the exam, namely the openings in the skull and the absence of brain tissue, the bodies could have been harvested for stem cells.

Once the people high up realized the inconvenience it would cause them, further investigation stumbled and died quietly. Somehow, the tape has found its way to the Council of Europe and BBC.

Stem cell research, the cutting edge of microbiology, remains at the forefront of public debate. Religious groups have protested it on ethical grounds, claiming that stem cell research would open a Pandora’s box of issues that only the Creator can deal with. Scientists have defended it, arguing that stem cell research promises a cure for a wide variety of illnesses.

In the highly profitable beauty industry, stem cells go into the production of rejuvenation applications, although their effectiveness has yet to be proved. Often performed in offshore outlets by professionals of questionable standing, these joys of life are affordable to an affluent clientele.

To the Western public, the Ukrainian edition of the “Extreme Makeover” show comes in a satanic script. The BBC report does not preclude the possibility of stem cells being harvested from live babies.

Unlike the Kolchuha story, now largely believed to be an urban legend on par with the Iraqi WMD hoopla, this case requires a mind open to extreme possibilities. Suffice it to say that in Kuchma’s Ukraine journalist beheadings were normal practice while having babies was next to an economic anomaly.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hurricane Yuliya Makes Landfall on Kyiv City Hall; Cher Runs for Comfort Station

The nemesis of Ukrainian politics has refused to sit idly and watch Kyiv go through another crony capitalism attack. After all, in the March election, 39 percent of Kyiv voters, more than in any other city, put a checkmark next to BYuT.

Tymo, accompanied by BYuT MPs, Tuesday paid a series of visits to the City Hall, where she engaged in a live-broadcast war of wards with Mayor Chernovetsky.

According to Tymo, at the end of the day, Cher and his loyalists barricaded themselves in the bathroom on the tenth floor. (No jumpers spotted.)

Cher said Wednesday he will scale back his 340 percent utility price increase, but he didn’t specify to what extent.

Let us hope that the magnitude of Yuliya’s next appearance in the City Council will merit the attention of the newly-appointed Emergency Minister Nestor Shufrych.

Mr. Shufrych, rated as a walking emergency by many, gained prominence as a member of the pro-Kuchma SDPU who carried the torch for presidential candidate Yanukovych all the way until the bitter end in the courtroom.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Consensus Is Only As Strong As Consent

¡Hola, amigo Stefan! The Counterpunch article you posted sent me on an emotional roller-coaster. So let me share my geopolitical musings with you.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!:) My razom, bahato i nas ne podolaty! We chanted the Ukrainian cover version of that Latin American revolutionary anthem at Maidan not because Fidel Castro had once ridden around town somewhere in the 60s. We chanted that anthem because we admired Castro's energy, the energy with which he had overthrown the Caribbean equivalent of Kuchma. At that high point in our history, little did we know of our comandantes’ eventual degeneration into the vices of their predecessors, but of Castro’s we already did.

I’m for a multipolar world, with room for everyone — culturally, politically, economically. And that’s the shape of things to come, even according to Samuel Huntington.

Whatever the Washington Consensus is, China has successfully resisted it. For years, the Washington has urged the Chinese to loosen the yuan peg. Not much progress has been done.

Meanwhile, controlled capitalism, coupled with Confucianism, works miracles in China. Over the last two decades, China has advanced immensely, prospering from foreign trade and investment, all of which indicates that it takes two to tango. For the Washington Consensus to work, local consent is key. They call it the Beijing Consensus, I guess.

With a trillion greenbacks sitting in its foreign reserves, China could bring the Washington Consensus to its knees in one fell swoop. But it’s a small world — getting smaller day by day — and we’re in it together. China surely knows better than to saw the branch it is sitting on. And it has a long way to go in terms of raising overall living standards.

For an OPEC member like Venezuela, funnelling oil revenues into New Deal economics is probably the right thing to do. That’s what makes Hugo Chavez so popular. And that’s the way they handle the commodity curse in Kuwait and Bahrain. No country can create a well-educated middle class without socially responsible income distribution patterns. Financial benefits stemming from factor endowments should be allocated for the benefit of all people. For Venezuela, the challenge lies in diversifying the economy: making it competitive and less dependent on oil exports to America, its major market.

Not all countries can afford the Venezuelan economic model. Take Belarus, the isolated authoritarian preserve. Keeping Belarus oligarch-free and relatively socially secure has been Luka’s saving grace. However, the intake of cheap Russian gas as the lifeblood of the economy has resulted in severe hypertension. Just a little change of heart from Puttie the Gasman, and Luka the Leech comes knocking on Ukraine’s door with an offer to set up a pipeline cartel.

Latin America’s love affair with socialism and protectionism in the 70s ended even worse than it began — with mountains of debt and lousy quality products that nobody wanted to buy.

That doesn’t mean that the resurgence of socialism in Latin America spells trouble for that part of the world, provided that the current cohort of leaders will not repeat the past.

One could endlessly discuss the Iraq syndrome, the dollar slide, consumerism, etc and get it all right. That said, it would be just as right to acknowledge that the folks running away to America vastly outnumber the folks running away from it.

As for me, anybody who supports the Castro regime raises a lot of suspicion. My vida loca test would be: Would I exchange my rights and living standards for those available in the country whose political system I admire? If I could observe a Western intellectual living a happy life on a monthly income of $20 bucks and singing praises to Castro, I would have no further questions.

Short of that, I would consider it a classic case of a fiat experimentum in corpore vili masquerade. (Let the experiment be made on a worthless body.) If I prefer endorsing oppressive Third World regimes without stepping outside my Western lifestyle, it’s only because, for some reason, I’m getting off on this exercise in pseudo-philosophy. That’s just how my ego makes me feel. And the way I feel may diverge significantly from the way they, the locals, feel. That’s it.

In the Soviet epoch of the Moscow Consensus, of which I was a subject-citizen, they practiced their own brand of imperialism called internationalism, a helping hand to postcolonial, newly-socialist countries. Soviet troops rampaged villages in Afghanistan; Cuban troops operated in the jungles of Angola. Millions of lives and billions of dollars lost in the Cold War game of chess would have been better spent elsewhere.

In summer of 1987, I watched a serviceman's funeral. It was in my parent’s home town of Korets. I was 7 and he was 20, a life cut short in a distant land. And I thought to myself: “If this whole thing in Afghanistan thing goes on the way it does, I may end up just like this poor fellow.” Well, thank God, I never did. The USSR did.

With 11 years of experience in Soviet socialism, I can proudly say: I’m not coming back. Sadly, the Moscow Consensus turned out to have a fulfilling capitalist half-life, outliving even the Orange Revolution.

So here’s my Kyiv Consensus: People of the world, do our homework. Treat each other as you would like to be treated. That would solve much of the problem associated with whatever consensus you have a problem with. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicken Chernovetsky

If Pavlovian handouts worked for you, you’re toast. If Mayor Omelchenko turned your world upside down, you haven’t seen anything. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Mayor Chernovetsky, the heaven-sent man about to explain to you the ways of the world.

Mr. Chernovetsky, laughed at as an eccentric banker and Jesus peddler who spoke a language few could understand, raised quite a few eyebrows when he landed the job jack-in-a-box-style, scoring a mere 32 percent of the vote. Compared to a lofty 73 percent for Omelchenko in 2002, not exactly a landslide victory, isn’t it?

More surprise awaited those who pictured him as a harmless do-gooder. They soon realized that the mayor of their jokes had a plan that didn’t exactly match their own.

On his orders, a loyal legion of Pravex managers, including his close relatives, infiltrated the City Hall. Contrary to what some naive Kyivites had expected, these servants of the “public good” perfected the den of nepotism built by outgoing Mayor Omelchenko. The philosophy gave itself away with the thunder of favoritism scandals involving metropolitan land sales. This ear-splitting, heartbreaking wedding march effectively consummated the City Hall’s remarriage to conflict of interest. Thanks to the local media keeping a watchful eye from day one, the truth finally hit home: Boy will they rock this town.

And here’s the great leap forward for us mortals: Starting December, we will be paying 340 percent as much for utilities as we used to.

For the Mayor and utilities bosses he’s chummy with, this surely sounds like a good idea. But not for the metro crowd! Given Kyiv’s median take-home pay of $350 per month, not all Kyivites own cars, let alone Maybachs and Bentleys.

Experts believe that Chernovetsky’s costing contains a hefty overcharge. President Yushchenko has already cautioned him to that effect. Interestingly enough, in the previous Rada, Chernovetsky had shined on the NSNU rolls.

According to the opposition, Chernovetsky and Co. have been constantly wooing avaricious representatives of other parties with lucrative offers to use them as the voting lubricant for their beggar-thy-neighbor policies.

Aware of the tide of public opinion against him, Chernovetsky responds to criticism with self-deprecating statements, calling his policy “unpopular” yet “inevitable.” Why not compare himself to Chirac, the 1995 president-elect who introduced himself to the global village by approving nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll? The sad thing is, despite the tsunami of Greenpeace protests, he went through with it.

If Leonid Chernovetsky goes for the kill with the same rate of success, the next bestseller on Petrivka market might well be called NukLeo.

Meanwhile, BYuT leprechauns in the City Council have been quitting in droves to join the docile majority. Those with a different value system have to fend for themselves — physically. In the heat of the recent live-broadcast sparring over utility bills, a BYuT representative was hospitalized, having sustained a concussion from a muscular male duo dressed in civvies. The episode is pending investigation.

In another episode, a comic one, BYuT representative Mykhailo Brodsky, a rather rambunctious figure, staked the Mayor to a loaded question, “Sniffed a line today?” “I never do,” replied Chernovetsky. Brodsky then added tauntingly, “Oh, I forgot he’s on wheels.” The prank directly addressed the widespread rumor of the Mayor’s substance abuse problem. Joking aside, Kyivites would be better served if Mayor Chernovetsky enriched his polygraph testing commitment, as applied to top-level municipal employees, with urine testing.

Boxing legend Vitaliy “Dr. Ironfist” Klychko, who happens to occupy a City Council seat, has not shown much fighting spirit. Hey man, why don’t you show us what you got? We need you on the ring as never before. Nope to dope!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Once Upon a Time in the Land of the Free
How the Don of Donbas Told Gringos What They Wanted to Hear and Dodged the Diaspora

I'd lie for you and that's the truth
Move mountains if you want me to
I'd walk across the fire for you
I'd walk on the wild for you
If you'd just believe in me...

Meat Loaf “I’d Lie For You And That’s The Truth”

He whose name conjures up reports of election fraud in Ukraine came to the land of the free neither sorry-assed nor empty-handed. He came cool, calm, and collected, with a smorgasbord of promises and reassurances — if only you could look into his eyes and see his soul and maybe reevaluate your preexisting beliefs.

He knows you like 'em Orange. But the tables have turned: The Orange plantation has all but perished due to a fungus culture of incompetence and special interests that thrived untrammeled there. So there he is, the old kid on the block, ready to do business with you.

Only by negating the ironclad association that ties him to foul play would he see that happen. It appears unlikely that the Don of Donbass took to the task unaided. Most probably, the task force of American spin doctors that helped him drug 32 percent of Ukrainian voters with BLT in the spring parliamentary campaign reported for duty again. Thus, a reputation laundering bid kicked into gear. Their positioning strategy against Yushchenko, in a nutshell:

  • Personality Type — position client as a born-again, true Blue type of leader, easily contrasted with a maladaptive shrinking Orange
  • Status in the Hierarchy — position client as the guy in charge, not in a coma; on centerstage, not on the edge
  • Knowledgeability — position client as the guy who knows the whens, whys and hows, not the guy who can’t figure out how many ministers he has under direct command
  • Management Style — position client as a doer — the doer — not a dreamer; a guy who makes things happen, not a guy who watches things happen or wonders what the hell happened

Once in Washington, that meant wearing a certain mask and weathering geopolitical spelling bees. Target behaviors and verbalizations included the following:

  • aggressively picking up the rusty baton of democracy and political stability
  • wholeheartedly lighting up the torch of ambitious energy projects
  • generously reopening the floodgates of grain exports
  • tirelessly patronizing American investment and free trade

Yanukovych did just that. And, with the notable exception of the ongoing wrangle over Tarasyuk, he picked no fights with Yushchenko. The Don of Donbas knew he had a lot to prove. In promoting his own agenda, he went by the book, skillfully feigning respect for Yushchenko’s authority and injecting a positive emphasis into every soundbite that fell from his lips. As much as he wanted to gloat over the removal of his rival from sacred cow status in Washington, Yanukovych fully realized the wind would still be blowing in his face. No one would swallow the bait unless he did his fishing in calm waters.

If he ever outperforms Yushchenko, most likely he will do so in the theater of voter deception. Hordes of comparison shoppers are already giving the Yanukovych campaign a stronger deception rating. Winter of 06/07 may well become a litmus test for the two political systems, pre-Politreforma and post-Politreforma. Once the family budgets of Ukrainians with the lowest income bracket get frostbitten by the snowballing costs of living, the PRU’s “Better living today will stir a higher degree of emotion than NSNU’s Dont fail Maidan!”

Despite the risk of a Katrina-like crisis hovering over the dilapidated utilities sector of urban Ukraine, the Don of Donbas had no qualms about dumping megatons of promotional materials on Washington and New York. Naturally, in the land of the free, some friends of Russia might feel intrigued by those rosy reports, as many did during the Great Depression while reading Walter Duranty’s. But they would certainly explode with disgust once they learned how perfectly “Better living today” matches “Read my lips: no new taxes.” Of the two giant hoaxes, the Ukrainian one involves far greater social stakes, since most Ukrainians neither boast as long a lifespan nor as much of an income. That’s why the American one reads like a funny bumper sticker and ours like a funny toe tag.

So far, breakthroughs in the international arena have eluded Yanukovych. As of today, many observers consider Georgia and Russia on a faster track to NATO and the WTO, respectively. While shrugging off the former has become a sport for Yanukovych, missing the train on the latter could get him in hot water. Whoever gets to the WTO first will hold all the cards, and Regs, who hold the lion’s share of Ukrainian industry, would rather take a crash course in Ukrainian than let themselves be outrun by Russia.

A crowd pleaser only in his native region, the Don of Donbas entertained no illusions about charming the million-strong Ukrainian American community. Hardly a soul needed a primer on his persona. Before Premier Victor Yanukovych set foot on American soil, Askold Lozynsky, President of the World Congress of Ukrainians, called on Ukrainian Americans to boycott the visit. He defined Yanukovych as the Kremlin’s fifth column. Even so, some diaspora organizations pursued the Ukrainian Premier, seeking straight answers regarding his unflinching espousal of Russian as a second official language and his business-as-usual ignorance of the Holodomor and UPA. Faced with a potentially embarrassing situation, the head of the Ukrainian delegation chose not to make himself available.

Minimizing the bad publicity from the anathema turned out to be a task of extreme proportions for the Yanukovych posse. The Don of Donbas pounced on the Holocaust Memorial, as if trying to blow smoke in America’s eyes and thus obscure his Holodomor denial. One must admit that playing the Holocaust off against the Holodomor opens up a whole new chapter in public relations. Should we expect its canonization by the Russian Orthodox Church?

The U.S. media had more luck getting in touch with Ya. In interviews, he related to the Orange Revolution as Ukraine’s major achievement. Far from pronouncing it dead, he went on to point out that, insofar as the Orange leaders have left a lot undone, the Revolution continues to this day. Taken at face value, that virtuoso statement of his might give the impression that current penetration of Ukrainian society by freedom has been an orgasmic experience for Yanukovych, philosophically speaking.

In a classic make-your-enemy-your-ally maneuver, he spoke of the OR gracefully, noting that the country had been ripe for change. He blamed the system, forgetful of his own sins. He took pains to detach himself from the bad boy image. He objectivized the Orange Revolution with a devotion that could profile him as a double agent. One more soundbite — and presto the antagonist we always loathed transmogrifies himself into the protagonist we never knew.

Hopefully, denizens of the land of the free had the eyes to see. Using Yushchenko’s blunders and the blessings of the Politreforma as the propellant for graduating from caterpillar to butterfly, the Don of Donbas made an art out of messing with your minds.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cosa Regio Nostra Fires Lutsenko, Tarasyuk

Cuius regio, eius religio. Whose rule, his religion.

Coming straight from the Middle Age, this proverb is right on the money. It perfectly illustrates the Armageddon in Ukrainian parliament that has culminated in the ouster of Yushchenko-centric Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and Foreign Affairs Minister Borys Tarasyuk.

Well done. The Yanukovych-centric Anticrisis Coalition certainly deserves praise for having positioned itself as something of a Cosa Regio Nostra/Holy Inquisition. Among the demoralized Orange Revolution vets, these two had a faint image of Robocop/Copernicus-like figures. (The only remaining martyr on death row is Defense Minister Hrytsenko.)

Whether by error of omission or commission, Bankova made their dismissal look like a foregone conclusion. Before the voting even started, President Yushchenko, for one, had discontinued his rumblings about the protectorate he held over them as accorded by the Constitution. The general impression is that Yushchenko has retired to his cell to deicide on further course of action. So far, he is holding himself incommunicado.

Such constitutional collisions, the hallmark of the post-Politreforma political landscape, add to Yanukovych’s confidence only to the extent that they embolden Yushchenko to go through with his referendum promise — once public outrage reaches a critical point: On the one hand, the three can only be appointed by the President, a status which makes them exempt from coalition considerations. On the other hand, because the Rada claims jurisdiction over them, the coalition has the power to fire them.

To expedite the public’s digestive process, the coalition had released enzymes detailing the trio’s misdeeds.

A parliamentary probe had found Lutsenko guilty of misappropriating several gift guns. (While there is no justifying the practice, the report did not provide comparison tables for Lutsenko’s predecessors.)

Multiple counts of financial wrongdoing had been uncovered in Defense Minister Hrytsenko’s realm of responsibility. (Here, due to the campaign’s fixation on financials, the rampant issue of military bullying went neglected.)

Foreign Affairs Minister Tarasyuk had been slapped with sabotaging Yanukovych’s meeting with Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe — not without the latter’s consent, as many believe. (As for Tarasyuk, my suggestion would be “breach of security, espionage, accepting bribes from Bush, kidnapping plot to fly Yanukovych to the NATO Summit in Riga.”)

Yanukovych had no problems with the Yushchenko-centric trio as long as he expected Yushchenko to do the wild thing with him. By the time that expectation proved to be overoptimistic, it had almost halved NSNU’s approval ratings.

The debris from these unmet expectations touched off a vicious vendetta. Lutsenko, along with the other two “untouchables,” stuck out like a sore thumb on the Yanukovych Cabinet uh Cupola. Day after day, they refused to take orders from it. Their blatant disregard for authority and crass insubordiNATiOn was nothing but trouble for Yanukovych.

Following an unsuccessful attempt on Thursday, Yanukovych-centric agenda-benders regrouped and stroke again — this time quite victoriously, ending a monthlong cliffhanger in Lutsenko’s law enforcement stint of 22 months.

The timing of the ouster evokes grim parallels. Not only does the ouster come on World AIDS Day, as if accentuating the fact that Yanukovych’s native Oblast of Donetsk ranks first in AIDS spread, but it also comes on a day that marks the 15th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence referendum.

Variable numbers of BYuT “leprechauns” (from 2 to 18) partook in the three voting rounds of the Lutsenko lynching. Obviously not happy with his robocopic watchfulness, these individuals customarily shun publicity and represent a BYuT equivalent of the lyubi druzi, that is, petty oligarchs who came to parliament to make money.

Tymo, who had used every opportunity to trash Lu as a PRU collaborationist, should have covered her bases first: The voting record pertaining to the ouster clearly lumps her entourage together with the Cosa Regio Nostra. Collaboration starts at home, doesn’t it?

Of course, the priestess immediately issued a statement saying that she holds herself to a higher standard and regrets what happened. Two “leprechauns” were banished from the BYuT temple.

Lessons learned:

1. Taking gold-diggers on board can make a captain cry bitter tears.

2. Somehow, the Lutsenko she had painted — one possessed by the demons of Donetsk — could not save his ass from burning at the stake.

A checklist for Yanukovych:

1. What could be more stupid than firing the No. 1 cop in the country who shouts from the rooftops of the Rada he’s onto something — something implicating your buddies?

2. What could be more self-incriminating than doing it when crime rates are down 15 percent?

3. Would this help do away with the stereotype that crime is encapsulated in the DNA of Donetsk Oblast, a region with the highest murder rate in Ukraine?

4. Does giving the axe to a pro-Western foreign policy guy lend credentials to your upcoming visit to the U.S.?

If making his X-file even more complicated was the goal, Yanukovych has surely succeeded. Or was this hardball assignment part of his recertification in Moscow?
In any case, the political exsanguination of Lutsenko and Tarasyuk strikingly reminds us of the vampirism of the Kuchma-controlled Rada in spring 2001 — when Premier Yushchenko was fired on lack of team play thinking, as it was phrased.

Given Ya’s DUI and Yu’s LID (Living in denial), somebody with a clean record has to stop this unhealthy thing.