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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pinchuk’s Eurotalk

"Я не впевнений, що в кінці дороги євроінтеграції ми повинні вступити до ЄС, але ми повинні пройти цей шлях".

“I’m not sure that having come to the end of the EU integration road, we should join the EU, yet go to the distance we should.”

"Без цієї моркви - вступу до ЄС – неможливо примусити провести реформи в Україні", - додав Пінчук”.

“Without this carrot — that is, EU accession — it would be impossible to pass reform in Ukraine.”

“Ми будемо такі круті, що самі вибиратимемо, з ким об’єднуватися".

“[Once we’re there] we’ll be so cool that it will be up to us to choose who to associate with.”

"Його роль у євроінтеграції України дуже важлива. Він позитивно ставиться до України і за вчорашній день воно покращилося"

“His [Schröder’s] role in Ukraine’s EU integration is very important. He is positive on Ukraine, and since yesterday his stance has improved.”

"Я вважаю Партію регіонів прихильником європейської інтеграції. Вони це багаторазово декларували, але я особисто це відчуваю і в цьому переконаний".

“I consider the Party of Regions a supporter of [Ukraine’s] EU integration. They have repeatedly stated that, but I personally feel it and am convinced of it.”


Friday, June 29, 2007

Talking Eurotalk: Pinchuk Brings Prominent Leaders to Yalta to Discuss Ukraine's Accession Prospects

The Yalta European Strategy (YES), a loose alliance of “friends of Ukraine” among Western political elites is holding its fourth annual meeting in Yalta.

This Black Sea resort, known as the cradle of the Cold War, has become something of an ego spa for billionaire Viktor Pinchuk to bask in favorable publicity. It is there that former president Kuchma’s son-in-law surrounds himself with the glitterati and cognoscenti to celebrate his chronic graduation from localcrat to cosmocrat, using YES as a public relations conduit.

Founded in 2003 under the aegis of the Pinchuk Foundation, YES sprang to life on the eve of Kryvorizhstal’s heavily discounted privatization and Ukraine’s rigged presidential election. So, yes, the timing tells it all.
And so does the branding choice, if you apply an ounce of Freudian analysis to it. Considering Kuchma’s role in shaping Ukrainians’ travel opportunities and treatment abroad, the YES brand projects a tremendous sense of black humor.

No wonder Pinchuk’s pet project has been a "Eurotalkathon:" an organization with no quantifiable objectives and no progress reports.

What’s in the pipeline for Ukraine? This year we hear Kwaśniewski talk of 2020 as the most realistic EU accession date for Ukraine; we marvel at Schröder’s undying passion for GasPutin; we meditate on Clinton’s pep talk.

Clinton seems to have thoroughly repressed the memory of the cheerleader act he pulled for Kuchma during his May 1995 visit to Kyiv. Here’s a quote from a speech he delivered at Taras Shevchenko University:

In the pursuit of peace and prosperity, you have been well-served by President Kuchma and his government's bold and farsighted leadership. You should know this: As you build your future, the United States will stand with you.

Sounds prophetic, doesn’t it? Well, this time he joked about importing Ukrainian budgeting talent to solve America’s deficit problem. Be careful what you wish for, Mr. President.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Yanukovych Upsets Putin by Taking Seat a Bit Too Early

While meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday, Ukrainian PM Viktor Yanukovych stoked up his collection of faux pas with yet another spicy edition.

As the two leaders took to the table, our man Yanukovych cut Putin short, landing his own rear end first, in gross violation of diplomatic protocol. This unauthorized seating sequence visibly disturbed Putin, Ukrayinkska Pravda writes, quoting a report in Komersant.

We always hurt the ones we love. But wait a minute, what if it was a carefully planned reprisal for Putin’s premature congratulations and the infamous candy rejection scene?

Short of that, one can see piles of work left undone by the K Street consultants who have coached Yanukovych during the last few years.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ukraine Makes IPO Debut on London Stock Exchange

Ukrainian ore enrichment giant Ferrexepo plc, owned by MP Kostyantyn Zhevago, BYuT, Wednesday introduced Ukrainian equity to the London IPO market. Since the stock began trading, the company’s market capitalization has reached ₤848 m, up 40 percent from its opening price.

Ferrexpo’s IPO, a groundbreaking event for Ukraine, marks a positive trend in its economy: a tradeoff between cost of capital and asset control. As Ukrainian chaebols flock to Western financial markets, they give up a portion of control over what has been a closely held economy bolstered by a hot commodity market. The Ukrainian economy is entering a post-privatization stage, one in which the laundry list of inefficiencies inherited from the Soviet era will not be tolerated.

With the right mix of public pressure and government policy, the trend promises to put a "restraining order" on business and politics to keep a healthy distance between each other. This, in turn, will put Ukraine on the right track, ensuring a climate shift toward social responsibility and innovation.

The change in the game will accelerate Ukraine’s diversification into hi-tech, value-added industries — a knowledge economy that will raise living standards.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

“Circle of Life” or “Circle of Lies?”
Elton John Feat. The Kuchma Family Perform at Maidan

As part of his global campaign against the AIDS epidemic, Sir Elton John visited Kyiv, where, on Saturday night, he gave a concert. He camped at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (or Independence Square), the heart of the now-comatose Orange Revolution.

Approximately one percent of Ukraine’s population of 46 million are HIV-positive. Every day, some 49 Ukrainians contract the virus, which puts Ukraine in the ranks of European “leaders” in this death race.

Ironically, the author of the “Candle in the Wind” was brought here by marketing communications whiz Olena Franchuk and billionaire Viktor Pinchuk, former president Kuchma’s daughter and son-in-law, respectively. These two high net worth individuals have gotten into the habit of posing as “philanthropists” in a country impoverished by Kuchma’s favoritism-driven privatization policies, which made Ukraine a fertile ground for AIDS.

The show kicked off with AIDS awareness ads by Elton John and David Beckham, followed by a feature film “starring” the incredible Olena Franchuk, head of the local Anti-AIDS foundation. Throughout the film, Kuchma’s daughter made passionate overtures to HIV-positive children. Using slice-of-death scenes, she took pains to help her fellow Ukrainians get a hold of the problem.

Elton John, hardly a guru on who’s who in Ukraine, referred to Franchuk and Pinchuk as “friends” and even dedicated a song to them. He also threw the in front of Ukraine [Soviet-era usage] and related to the audience with Russian spasibo instead of Ukrainian dyakuyu.

This made him sound like he could have used some expert advice from Daddy Kuchma's "national bestseller," Ukraine Is Not Russia. By the way, Daddy K did attend the event. However, sharing the VIP sector with President Yushchenko made him an unlikely candidate to “feel the love tonight.”

The show went well and the public responded energetically, even though the playlist did not include a good many hits like “A Word In Spanish,” “Simple Life,” “Made In England,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
Unlike first lady Kateryna Yushchenko, who, being born into a Ukrainian American family, studied the stage with lively interest, President Yushchenko sat tight through the whole show.

Circle of Life,” Elton John’s valedictory song, watered my eyes, engulfing me in an emotionally intense flashback. The Lion King (1994) soundtrack is one of the theme songs of my teen experience of growing up in Kuchma’s Ukraine. As a member of the global MTV Generation, I passed my TOEFL test in 1994, at age 14. That same year, Leo II (Kuchma) became “king” of Ukraine.

Now that I’ve grown up in what has become an AIDS-stricken country, I find Elton John’s commitment praiseworthy. He remains one of the world’s greatest artists and an honorary citizen of my teen world.

But there’s the other side to this sentimental moment of truth: His “friends” belong to the unstoppable and untouchable caste of Ukraine’s oligarchy, whose footprint has impressed AIDS into the social fabric of society.

In practical terms, though, Ukrainians must assume primary responsibility for protecting themselves against AIDS, a disease they contracted through Kuchma’s corrupt rule. At the end of the day, we only have ourselves to rely on in getting the “Circle of Lies” syndrome out of our system. There’s no other way we can live our lives to the fullest in the true “Circle of Life.”

Circle Of Life

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Some say eat or be eaten
Some say Live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give

In the circle of life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, in the circle of life

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars

There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round


P.S. Before he closed the show, Elton John redeemed himself by speaking a little Ukrainian: “Zupynymo SNID razom!” (“Let’s stop AIDS together!”)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Persona Non Grata Aleksandr Dugin on Ukraine

Оранжевый цвет - цвет растафарианизма, афро-наркотического мессианизма. Он вызывает психотропное воздействие. Показательно, что это цвет отсутствует в традиционной иконописи - его химический характер указывает на синтетические процессы, химию и галлюциногенные наркотики. Оранжевый - цвет т.н. "психоделической революции" и "лигалайз"-культуры. Обычно на оранжевом фоне изображаются стебли марихуаны.

Ющенко обращается к молодежи: "курни, браток", больше не надо будет работать. Это почти африканский стиль карго-культа - новая Украина мыслится как страна "делай, что захочешь!", а будешь жить как в Голландии. По сути это ультралиберальная программа. Ничего из этого, естественно, не получится, Украина станет глубокой и нищей периферией, кстати, ее скорее всего ни в какую Европу и не возьмут, так что "оранжевые" фанаты будут смиренно пить оставшийся от великой советской эпохи вагонный денатурат.

Orange is the color of Rastafarianism, or Afro-drug-induced Messianism. It produces a mind-altering effect. It is noteworthy that this color is missing in traditional icon art: Its chemical makeup points to synthetic processes, to chemistry and to hallucinogenic narcotics. Orange is the color of the “psychedelic revolution” and of the “legalize” culture. Orange customarily supplies the background to depictions of marijuana.

Yushchenko speaks to the youth: “Smoke a joint, pal.” You won’t have to work anymore. It almost strikes as the African style of the cargo cult: a new Ukraine being thought up as the country of do-as-you-please. And yet you'll only end up living like they do in Holland. Essentially, it’s an ultraliberal agenda. Naturally, nothing will come out of it: Ukraine will become a lowdown and destitute peripheral entity. By the way, most likely it won’t be accepted into Europe, so the orange fans will be sheepishly drinking Soviet-era industrial alcohol.

Янукович символ стрэйт. Т.е. недалекого натурала с сильными "полубандитскими" наклонностями. Он не сулит обновления, если под обновлением понимать смену пола. Янукович стал пророссийским и евразийским кандидатом во многом против своей воли. Силой геополитической логики. И он сам явно не до конца осознает своей функции. Но в эсхатологических ситуациях порой разбойник и простец могут стать мучениками за идею и предводителями финального восстания. Чем быстрее Янукович осознает глубину этой миссии - пусть через систему своих донецких понятий - тем адекватнее он будет вести себя в дальнейшим. В принципе ему открыта славная дорога борьбы с мировым злом в лице оранжевого урода, марионетки Запада.

Януковичу надо становиться сейчас во главе восстания Евразии против Атлантики. На нем сгустились тучи великой войны континентов. И там где прогнется парт-функционер или генерал из пацифистов, может быть - дай Бог! - рецидивист с парой ходок станет стеной. Янукович - это избранный сосуд эсхатологичсекого чуда. Но сущность чуда в том, что оно происходит очень редко. Только в чрезвычайных обстоятельствах. Но сейчас партия Януковича - это партия Абсолютного Света, евразийская версия "Хезболлы" - "партии Бога".

Yanukovych symbolizes the straight man, that is, a heterosexual person with a strong “semi-thuggish” propensity. He promises no renewal, if by renewal we mean sex reassignment. To a great extent, Yanukovych became the pro-Russian and Eurasian candidate against his will. Enter the forces of geopolitical logic. Obviously, he does not fully realize his function. But in eschatological situations it is sometimes the robber and the simpleton who becomes the martyr for the cause and the leader of the final showdown. The sooner Yanukovych realizes the depth of his mission — may it even be via his Donetsk mob culture — the more adequately he will behave in the future. Basically, he has an open road of glory before him in the struggle against the world’s evil represented by the Orange Ogre, a puppet of the West.

Yanukovych should now take the reigns of Eurasia’s revolt against both sides of the Atlantic. The clouds of the war of continents are heavy upon him. And whereas, the party functionary or the general of pacifism will cave in, the habitual criminal who served time, it is probable — God willing — will become a bulwark. Yanukovych is the chosen jar of an eschatological miracle. But the gist of this miracle is that it happens quite rarely. It only happens under an extraordinary set of circumstances. But as of today the party of Yanukovych is the party of the Absolute Light, the Eurasian version of Hezbollah, the Party of God.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Russia Tumbai, or Political Crossdressing — PRU Style

«Общеизвестно: американцы - лучшие маркетологи в мире. Не сделать таких профессионалов частью команды - просто глупо. Кто лучше других раскроет плюсы предлагаемого социального пакета? Кто лучше объяснит макроэкономические показатели? С Партией регионов на выборах будет работать команда, состоящая из лучших специалистов, которые есть в мире”.

"We all know Americans are the best marketing talent in the world. Failure to make these professionals part of the team would simply be stupid. Who can best spell out the major selling points of the social contract we offer? Who can best explain the macroeconomic indicators? In this election campaign, the Party of Regions will be working with a team that has on its board the best talent in the world."

— MP Borys Kolesnikov, PRU


P.S. Puts a whole new spin on that "Yankees go home!" business, doesn't it?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Caught in Crossfire of Cold War II
Putin Blasts ‘Tyranny in Ukraine;' Adviser to Yushchenko Persona Non Grata in Russia

A lingering political crisis still grips Ukraine. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed a Serduchka-caliber performance by Yanukovych, who is now something of a drag queen for elections, acting in consort with diehard naysayer Moroz. We’ve also seen Yushchenko covering his bases with yet a third decree, which cements the agreed election date at Sep. 30.

Russia, whose presidential campaign kicks into gear amid historically high tensions with the West, has refused to be a passive observer in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Cold War II, Putin’s successor strategy, thrives on the phantom fear of NATO aggression. Among experts, there’s an industry-wide interpretation of it being a propaganda ploy with which to galvanize Russian society along the lines of anti-Americanism and Pax Sovietica nostalgia. The tagline, therefore, should read something like this: “They've got us surrounded. What are we, a bunch of suckers?”

The script appears to be simple and stupid:

Step one, brainwashing. Convince the Russian public that NATO, acting through its ‘puppet regimes’ in Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltics, plots Russia’s total destruction.

Step two, solution-selling. Peddle “Baby Putin” as the one and only superman capable of saving Russia from this axis of evil.

By arousing patriotic sentiment at home, the Kremlin has successfully diverted attention from its routine business of siphoning gas and oil revenue to offshore banks. Educating the West on the virtues of Russian democracy has been a hard sell, though.

In his recent remarks — a melange of self-deprecating posturing and sarcasm — Putin joked about having spiritual ties with Mahatma Gandhi, whose death he said left him ‘with no one to talk to.’ To make it even more funny, he went on to picture himself as a ‘democrat of the purest kind,’ one whose hopes have been dashed by Ukraine’s ‘drift toward tyranny.’

Recently, Mr. GasPutin, as he is often nicknamed, has re-energized his rhetoric about ‘Ukraine living off cheap Russian energy.’ More heat came Tuesday when Russian authorities denied Mykola Zhulynsky entry to the country, preventing Yushchenko’s adviser and former Ukrainian minister of culture from visiting his relatives’ grave.

The incident opens another chapter in the persona non grata warfare between Ukraine and Russia. Zhulynsky, a moderate nationalist whose views pose as big a threat to Russia as French cultural protectionism would do to Hollywood, was picked as the target of a diplomatic reprisal. It turns out Ukraine had incurred the wrath of the Kremlin when it had blacklisted Aleksandr Dugin, the famous Russian political scientist with a neo-imperialist agenda.

For a country frequented by high-profile foreign politicos who treat its independence with disdain and publicly challenge its territorial integrity, Ukraine has shown a profound degree of tolerance and hospitality. Few countries would tolerate that sort of behavior on their soil.

Unlike Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Konstantin Zatulin, whose persona non grata status has recently expired, allowing them to test Ukraine’s patience again, Mykola Zhulynsky carried no bag of tricks with him. Ukrainian foreign affairs minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has vowed to raise the issue with Russian leadership.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Medvedko Redux As Parliament Hammers Out Election Legislation

Thoroughly disappointed with the Piskun experiment, President Yushchenko has reinstated Oleksander Medvedko as Prosecutor General. Despite frictions, the Verkhovna Rada on Friday worked until midnight to pass the required legislation.