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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Equity, Elitism and Electeds: NUNS MP Talks About Pay

If we compare today’s minimum [monthly] wage of about 500 hryvnias [$99] with the MP’s salary of almost 14,000 hryvnias [$2,772], the differential will be tremendous, right? But if we compare it with what we have in Kyiv — with what a person with adequate education and training can make — it becomes clear that it’s not so big.

— MP Pavlo Zhebrivsky, NUNS

First, it’s the people of Ukraine — not the people of Kyiv, Kharkiv or Mariupol — who hired you for the job. If the nationwide minimum wage provides such a poor benchmark, how can we talk about “one law for all?”

Second, if we solely focus on the Kyiv job market, our pay survey should also include medical doctors, college professors, school teachers and other public employees, many of whom make even less than $500 a month. Don’t they have any education and training?

Third, if we base our equity theory solely on the pay scales of midlevel Kyiv-based corporate Ukraine, we should look into the local purchasing power of $2,772. Can a household with a monthly income of $2,772 buy a home in Kyiv?

Fourth, if only that monthly MP income of $2,772 (not to mention the benefits package) could put the brakes on parliamentary corruption, I’m sure taxpayers would be happy to pay the price. But are there any brakes?

Apparently, some of our representatives need to get their Hay points straight.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The 'Affordable Housing' Race

PM Tymoshenko: I promised that every family that is employed or has an income will be entitled, via a government mortgage agency, to receive a loan, for a period of 25 to 30 years, for the purchase of a home; and what’s more, without a down payment and at an annual interest rate of 4 to 6 percent.

Interviewer: I would like you to clarify, what banks will agree to an interest rate of 4 to 6 percent?

PM Tymoshenko: The thing is, it’s not the banks that will be at work here. The rate of 4 to 6 percent will be the product of the government mortgage agency. It’s the kind of agency that taps the cheapest of money — and there are such mechanisms — and then, through refinancing commercial banks and through special rules that do not allow the banks to ratchet up interest rates — we will give such loans to people. Make no mistake: Our task is to make housing so that people can buy it, rather than watch upscale condos being built and passively observe the other guy having a beautiful life. [Amen to that!]

No sooner had PM Tymoshenko unveiled her plan than the Secretariat of the President rained on her parade with a me-too initiative, dismissing Tymoshenko’s low interest rate plan as unrealistic.

As an alternative, the Secretariat championed the idea of a 30 percent government-subsidized down payment, plus cost cuts via issuing free land permits.

All of which suggests that the housing problem is becoming a major theater in the war for votes that will define the outcome of the presidential campaign 2009.

However, until proven otherwise, my satellites will view these initiatives as promise-packed weapons of mass delusion — brand extensions of “No draft in 2008” and “Bandits will sit in prison.”

What Ukraine needs is a housing SDI that will disempower the evil oligarch empire and will empower the Ukrainian Dream. Whoever gets the job done — or at least makes a good start — will get to be President.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Paradise Privatized

President Yushchenko: I don’t want the sale of oblenergos [regional electricity companies] to be bound by the shadowy special-interest agreements of a certain political power regarding the distribution of equity to specific persons.

Premier Tymoshenko: We agreed that the government has to provide the President with a full explanation regarding the privatization of oblenergos.

Interviewer: Have you received tips on this?
President Yushchenko: I have received tips on this — that the so-called privatization of oblenergos may put Ukraine through a blowout sale of oblenergos to certain “votes,” so that they will vote as somebody says. I’m worried about this. Unfortunately, I do have such tips. And I will act on them. When push comes to shove, my response will be rapid. But for now, I only have this warning to make: I’m in the know. I have my grapevine. And I will firmly stand my ground on us not having the sale of Ukraine, but on having a well-designed privatization of said entities.

In this “who’s who” segment, Tymoshenko gets painted as Eve by someone who resents playing Adam.

It takes a watchful eye to help Eve resist being tempted by the Serpent of Stabilnist. It also takes courage for Adam to admit the fact that evil spirits live on both sides of the story. Otherwise, we end up with a rather one-sided version of original sin.

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Tymoshenko Outlines Her Privatization Credo to Yushchenko

We’ve offered, taking into account that the state will never be an efficient entrepreneur, the state will only be able to control three or four corporations such as Energoatom, Naftogaz — that is, to make business plans, keep things going... The idea is to have the state, where regulation is required, retain potent regulatory functions — this concerns oblgazes, oblenergos [regional gas and electricity companies], everything that really looks like a [natural] monopoly. The state spells out these potent regulatory functions via legislation. At the opposite end, we don’t make up a list of what we’re going to privatize, but rather, we make up a list of what cannot be privatized under any circumstances, complete with a comprehensive analysis of why a given enterprise cannot be privatized.

Here we go again, cruising the ideological avenues of the world: from solidarism to Thatcherism; from pondering membership in the Socialist International to praising Sarkozy; from advocating aggressive privatization to promoting the idea of mild government-subsidized mortgage rates. How does it all add up? Exactly where are we going?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Shufrych: “¡NATO NO PASARÁN!”

More on NATO. MP Nestor Shufrych, PRU, former Minister of Emergency Management, speaking at an anti-NATO rally outside the Verkhovna Rada:

Let us recall the words of the revolutionaries who were stopping fascism. They said: "¡No pasarán! They shall not pass.” Today, we say: NATO shall not pass!

What about Spain’s NATO membership? Either Franco still rules Spain, or Shufrych got his rhetoric wrong.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1982, when the transition to democracy reached an advanced stage, that Spain became a NATO member.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Leontyev’s Paradox

Mikhail Leontyev, the voice of the Kremlin, the premier Ukrainophobe on Russian TV, and a guest speaker at Savik Shuster’s Svoboda talk show:

Today, when making a decision on NATO, you should have awareness, you should think of who you’re going to shoot at. It’s a very serious question. And if you feel like shooting at the Russians, well, it’s your decision, guys. Shoot, you crazy brothers. You understand, don't you? But this question is a very serious one. And that Ukraine, if she assumes [NATO] obligations, will be the first to be forced — as Russia was forced in all her historical alliances to fight until the last Russian — to shed blood raises no doubts. But whether the Americans will guarantee Ukraine’s security is a very big question in this situation. Will they be able and willing to? And where and how the Ukrainians are going to shed their blood for an ill-defined alliance with their historical enemies, as a matter fact, right? That’s...that's the way it is. Now you decide, guys.

If you love us that much, why don’t you just let go of us? Why don't you let us decide? The passion with which you patronize Ukraine can fire up Patriot missiles! If you want more proof, send us more of those ESM boyscouts.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Prosecution Chases Lutsenko, Lutsenko Chases Chernovetsky

Following Lutsenko’s aggression against “places that men usually take pride in,” Chernovetsky called in sick and pressed charges against the aggressor.

The conflict shows signs of escalation. The armies have regrouped, and hostilities have shifted to two command centers: the Office of the Prosecutor-General, penetrated by the Party of Regions, and the Ministry of the Interior, run by Lutsenko.

Chernovetsky, backed by the Party of Regions, is pushing the Prosecutor-General to supply the Verkhovna Rada with enough ammo to fire Lutsenko and then prosecute him. The bottleneck is that firing Lutsenko cannot be done without mobilizing a few Orange votes.

But, as Christina Aguilera well knows, if you rub the bottle the right way, the operation might succeed. And if successful, the genie would in turn balkanize the Orange Coalition, bringing a cornucopia of trophies — if not the smell of shyrka — to the Party of Regions.

Still, it’s domino theory, not a surefire scenario. Besides, Lutsenko, inspired by the prospect of being prosecuted, is raising the roof on Chernovetsky, an act long overdue considering how Chernovetsky has raised the roof on Kyiv.

Aside from digging into Chernoco’s land activities, the Minister of the Interior is busy reopening some pretty ugly X-files — two road accidents involving Chernovetsky’s car fleet. On April 15, 2003, a Mercedes-Benz S600 belonging to Chernovetsky’s Pravex hit an 11-year old boy to death. On November 2 that same year, another car of his, a Mercedes-Benz G500, took the life a 20-year old man.

The two cases were soon closed for lack of evidence. It now appears they were under-investigated. Which begs the question, “What took you so long?”

Well, it’s a long story. In 2003, Leonid Chernovetsky was a member of parliament and a loyal member of the Nasha Ukrayina faction, a precursor to NUNS. During Lutsenko’s first term as Minister of the Interior (2005/06), Chernovetsky hung out with the Orange crowd. Once elected Mayor of Kyiv in the March 2006 election, Chernovetsky felt the power of gravity — land gravity, that is — and gradually changed colors. The Age of Innocence was gone.

A hard look at this piece of history makes today’s mortal combat look more like a boyish tit-for-tat fight.

It looks like the two camps have gone from “forgive and forget” to “burning bridges.” In other words, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours; you kick my ass, and I’ll kick yours.”

Since neither Chernovetsky nor Lutsenko has taken a polygraph test on the subject, the public bases its conclusions on as little, or as much, knowledge and critical thinking as it has.

Still, even in the absence of intimate knowledge of Chernovetsky-Lutsenko interactions, Kyivites favor Lutsenko’s role slightly more than they do Chernovetsky’s. That's what the
recent poll published in Dzerkalo Tyzhnya says.

Asked about who should take the blame for the incident, Kyivites responded as follows:

Yuriy Lutsenko: 12.2%
Leonid Chernovetsky: 22.5%
Both: 42.2%
Neither: 2.1%
Don’t know: 21.1%

The next time Kyivites make their choice, they’d better make a better choice. I hope that choice comes soon. And if Lutsenko corrects his mistakes, I’d rather vote for him than for someone who doesn’t. At any rate, I will never ever vote for someone who uses vermicelli voters to torpedo the rest of us to the bottom of the food chains.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Photo Misfit: Former Prosecutor-General Confused for FBI-Wanted Man

MP Svaytoslav Piskun, PRU, who also happens to be a former three-time Prosecutor-General of Ukraine, had his photo mistakenly used in a Russia Channel news report of today’s arrest of Sergey Schneider, also known as Semion Mogilevich.

Uploaded by kalina_ukr

According to Ukrayinska Pravda, Russia Channel, also known as RTR, attached Piskun’s photo to a report on Mogilevich, who is wanted by Russian law enforcement in a tax evasion case.

Semion Mogilevich is also wanted by the FBI and, according to Yulia Tymoshenko, has (or had) ties with Ukraine's current gas supplier, RosUkrEnergo (RUE), a claim which both Mogilevich and RUE have repeatedly denied.


Tymoshenko to Fight Bribery Surgically

We’re launching a multichannel communication system with all entrepreneurs of Ukraine whereby they will use electronic, phone or snail mail — whatever they prefer — to give us a clear picture of where they pay bribes, and what’s more, this information they may present anonymously, without stating their names and the names of those they pay bribes to.

We are not interested in targeting specific persons. We are interested in understanding conceptually where government has the authority — and in many cases excess authority — that entrepreneurs have to pay an excess bribe for — because bribes can be minimized, but to talk of eradicating bribery altogether would be a very lofty ambition.

Just make sure the scalpel doesn’t get rusty, so that we’ll see some serious slicing and dicing.

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Yushchenko Talks Gas at Davos

Ukraine has become a hostage of the very campaign she started, because in today’s circumstances — when we have a fixed price formula — raising gas transit fees on Ukrainian territory would entail a corresponding price raise for the Central Asian gas Ukraine consumes.

Quite a gas attack on Tymoshenko’s plans to ditch RosUkrEnergo and raise transit fees for Russian gas exports to Europe.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Weird Al Yanukovych Tells a Private Joke

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to dole out our hard-earned money. Nobody said a word about that. The government makes sweet promises to its citizens, but aims to lay responsibility on parliament’s shoulders. As one folk joke has it, “What’s mine I’ll eat myself, what’s yours we’ll eat together.”

Well well well. Did he refer to his personal eating habits?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One Flew Over Chernoco's Nest

Better later than never.

I’m interested in people believing in God, going to Orthodox churches, to other religious...uh...establishments — for Jews and for those who profess Juda...uh...this Hind...Hindusss...uh...I forget...Say what? No, no. And for...uh...others who, basically... Say what? Yes, for those who profess Hinduism and...uh...for those who profess...Buddhism.

— Leonid Chernovetsky, uh...Mayor of Kyiv

Anthrax House Gets Go Ahead

Construction of the condo complex at Shovkovychna Street in Kyiv, located at the site of a 19th-centruy anthrax cemetery, as some historical records indicate, will resume shortly, according to a clearance issued by local disease control authorities. The probe did not detect any health hazards.

Now look at this CYA "caveat emptor":

However, the presence of isolated burials cannot be completely ruled out, and due to the probability, albeit a low one, of anthrax pathogens being present in the soil of said site, construction works should follow a set of safety precautions.

So how about buying a home sweet home that gambles with nature? Perhaps the construction company should consider getting an endorsement from Freddy Krueger.

Well, since it’s already a Freddy Krueger market, lowering the price a little might actually work better.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This Day in History: Den Sobornosti, or Unity Day

On January 22, 1919, the two Ukrainian states, UNR (Ukrainian People’s Republic) and ZUNR (West Ukrainian People’s Republic), became one — but only on paper.

They soon went their separate ways, driven apart by the post-WW I reality and the Bolshevik expansion.
The UNR, with the capital in Lviv, would soon succumb to Polish rule. The UNR, with the capital in Kyiv, would be remodelled into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

It’s wasn’t until the early 90s that the light at the end of the tunnel for Ukraine’s independence began to appear. On Jan. 21, 1990, over 300,000 Ukrainians lined up the 300 mile highway from Kyiv to Lviv to commemorate the signing of the Act Zluky (Unification Act) of 1919.

In less than two years, the winds of change, propelled by glasnost and perestroika, would lay the Evil Empire to rest.

However, marinated in sovok and manipulated by stabilnist, the people of Ukraine still have to realize the true joys of living in a truly united and prosperous country. Naturally, no large-scale festivities have been reported.


Yushchenko, Yanukovych Celebrate Theophany

Ice swimming plays a central role in traditional Ukrainian Vodokhreshcha (Theophany) celebrations.

President Yushchenko: Godspeed!
Orthodox clergyman: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation…
Male voice: I’ve brought you some towels.

Opposition leader Yanukovych: I started in the morning — in the morning. So, I’ve never done it in public. At other times, I bathed in the sea. But since there’s no sea around, there’s a little reservoir, and with a calm conscience I do it there, and it’s no problem.

Why be so shy? We'd love to see ProFFessor Sub-Zero in action!

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Monday, January 21, 2008

A Macho Mayor at Lutsenko’s Police Academy

Much of Ukrainian politics can be construed as a one-way contact sport whereby a bunch of ballsy individuals bang the people silly in every conceivable way.

They turn power into money, and money into power. They turn votes into poverty, and poverty into votes. This perpetual bliss is called stabilnist, and it's the only thing that turns them on.

But when something — or someone — threatens to disrupt stabilnist and turn it into a two-way street, it’s nothing short of Apocalypse for them. The angels of stabilnist start crying blue murder. They can’t get enough of that sexy time!

Undoubtedly, the Lutsenko-Chernovetsky episode involved behavioral patterns that broke the rules of civil conduct. But there’s more to it.

By bringing the land issue out in the open, this episode also broke the not-so-secret behavioral code whereby political opponents often treat each other like friends, but treat their voters like shit. It’s the same code that helps certain individuals in the Kyiv City Council find common ground — or should we say, common land — and force Kyivites on the sidelines. At the end of the day, the people play by the rules while the politicians they vote for play with the rules.

Below is a fragment from Savik Shuster’s Svoboda talk show on Inter. The program aired Friday night, hours after the act. Lutsenko joins the studio on the phone, at approximately 04:00 minutes into this video.

Yuriy Lutsenko, Minister of the Interior: Good evening, dear Savik! Good evening everyone who’s watching and listening. Uh, I couldn’t miss this broadcast, despite having promised not to make statements for the media during the first 100 days of my office as Minister of the Interior. I will tell you briefly why today’s incident took place, and will outline it.

Today, a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council was held on the issue of land grabs in Ukraine. Uh, many different officials said feel-good things, and I was one of them. Without naming names, I cited cases of utter land lawlessness and land grabs of thousands of hectares worth of priceless Kyiv land — all of it without reference to the incumbent Mayor of Kyiv. I talked about similar things happening in Kyiv oblast and in the Crimean Autonomous Republic.

As the meeting drew to a close, I offered a hands-on solution. The Office of the Prosecutor-General should not just challenge the illegal activity of, say, the Kyiv City Council — which has already started pillaging hospitals, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the Kyiv Fortress and so on — but to file charges and attach these contested land plots so that they will not pass into the hands of con artists.

After all the attendees favored the initiative to form a joint task force of Prosecution, MoI, and SBU, and to set up special land courts — for this problem concerns all of Ukraine — I finished my speech. After this, there was a statement by Chernovetsky, who said the following: “Viktor Andriyovych [Mr. President], Lutsenko extorted me for land, allegedly for police purposes, and if I refused, he promised to arrest my son.”

I was shocked. I remember one occasion…I met with Chernovetsky twice in my life: once at a Kyiv City Council session, and once in my office. So once — before the [2006 parliamentary] elections, before he became head of the City Council — he called me and told me that the former Kyiv City prosecutor is putting the pressure on a law enforcement officer to arrest my son, Stepan Chernovetsky, before the elections, on suspicion of involvement in the housing fraud of the Elita Center, which stole hundreds of millions worth of people’s money invested in the construction of dwellings.

I said, “Mr. Chernovetsky, here’s my credo: ‘I don’t fight the kids. This is a no-go.’” So I gave an order to Kyiv police to interrogate Mr. Stepan Chernovetsky, son of the incumbent Mayor, after the elections, so that it would not be exploited in the political faceoff. And when today he brutally exploited this — and turned the issue on its head — I was shocked. I said it was a lie. After that, 20 minutes passed. The meeting of the National Security and Defense Council finished. The President thanked everyone for a job well done and, accompanied by other officials, left.

I called out to Chernovetsky and said he was a liar — that he was the bastard in this situation, for normal people don’t act this way. I made a human thing, keeping in mind that even the Sicilian mafia doesn’t fight the kids, least of all the Ukrainian government. [Comment: The Sicilian mafia in La Piovra behaves differently. And much of the Ukrainian government, in fact, does behave like mafia.] And for this I got backstabbed with an absolutely untruthful and sordid accusation.

After that, Mr. Chernovetsky — in a manner he’s been acting all his life — hit me cunningly in the knee that still hurts from the days of Maidan. I’ve just been to the hospital and have made all the arrangements to document this. I gave Chernovetsky a face slap — all the governors have seen it. With the palm of my hand, I gave a man’s, or manly, if you like, slap to a person who lies and schemes in his position as Mayor of Kyiv. I must disappoint Mr. Oles Dovhy [Deputy Mayor of Kyiv, 27]. I will not make apologies, for I believe that it was an absolutely mean act — heaping lies on me after all I had done.

Oles Dovhy, Deputy Mayor of Kyiv: It’s not Chernovetsky you should seek apologies from, but from the people, and that’s it.

Yuriy Lutsenko: It’s absolutely mean to hide behind the President’s back, and it’s absolutely mean to hit a man in the knee under the table, for I know who does it — it’s jailbirds who do this. Apparently this skill will come in handy for Mr. Chernovetsky. But someplace else. I’m not going to apologize, and I believe that I acted as a human, as a citizen, and finally, as Lutsenko. In this case, I can understand Mr. Chernovetsky: He will buy off everything, just as he bought off Kyiv. He will buy off the doctors, he will buy himself a medical certificate [as proof of battery], and let him do it. I will remain Lutsenko and am not going to apologize to scoundrels and thugs.

Savik Shuster, Host: Thank you. That’s it.
Oles Dovhy, Deputy Mayor: Lastly…

Savik Shuster: Subject closed.
Oles Dovhy: I would like to add some detail…

Savik Shuster: No, subject closed. We have to take a commercial break.
Oles Dovhy: I didn’t ask…

Savik Shuster: Please, Mr. Dovhy [roar of applause]… That’s it. We’re closing. That’s it. We’ve heard both sides.
Oles Dovhy: I didn’t ask Mr. Lutsenko to apologize to Leonid Mykhailovych [Chernovetsky]. I would like to ask him to apologize...

Savik Shuster: …to the nation....
Oles Dovhy: …to the people…

Savik Shuster: That’s it. Thank you. We’ll be right back after the commercial break.

Below is an audio fragment from ICTV’s Svoboda Slova talk show, the arch-rival of Inter’s Svoboda — which Savik Shuster cloned when he changed channels last year. Chernovetsky can be heard licking his wounds in a rather pathetic way.

Leonid Chernovetsky, Mayor of Kyiv: He stormed out of the crowd, and hit me twice…uh…in places that men usually take pride in — that’s point number one.

Andriy Kulykov, Host: You mean the head, right? [Comment: What kind of sick freak are you? Can’t you think of anything else? Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that some powerful men in this country take pride in “places” other than the head?]

Leonid Chernovetsky: And point number two, he hit me in the face with his fist, and instantly he was held back by several ministers and administration chiefs. Of course, I naturally pulled myself forward to fight him back, but to my greatest disappointment, I didn’t have the opportunity. Now, that was a nightmare! Just imagine, what should we do in a country where a minister, in the presence of the country’s key figures, punches someone in the face and crotch?

Damn, I thought that turning the other cheek — or whatever — was the Christian thing to do. Isn’t it what you stabilnist folks preach to us?

Joking aside, most Kyivites would agree that Lutsenko and Chernovetsky owe them an explanation. After all, analysts consider them the two major contenders for the job, should mayoral early elections be held as promised by the Orange camp.

In the spirit of clean fighting, the two should settle the score by taking independently monitored polygraph tests on the land issue and by reporting the test results to the public. Let the public see whose side of the story has more truth to it.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” as the CIA motto goes.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coal Mine Blast Kills 2

Two miners died in a Saturday night accident at the Shakhtarska-Hlyboka Mine in Donetsk oblast as a result of negligent handling of explosives, Channel 5 reports.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Deadly Déjà Vu: 18-Year Old DUI Kills 1, Wounds 2

On Jan. 12, an 18-year old Odesite crashed his Toyota Prado into a Daewoo Lanos moving on the opposite lane, killing one person and wounding two others in an accident that involved a total of eleven vehicles.

This brings to mind the case of Serhiy Kalynovsky, a high-profile 21-year old whose reckless driving killed last year his girlfriend and another driver, father of two young children.

Both stories share one thing: abusive language and disorderly conduct on the part of the perpetrator at the time the police arrived. A report in Segodnya states that it took the paramedics 40 minutes to “rush” to the scene. And by the time the firefighters came, an hour had already passed.

When the police arrived, the 18-year old showered them with profanity and demanded his cell phone, saying his dad would fix things quickly. On his way to the precinct, the bad boy was escorted by a trail of luxury cars.

According to Dmytro Fuchedzhy, deputy chief of Odesa oblast police, the subject was DUI.
Now hear this: The young man reportedly attends law school. He is also the son of a wealthy businessman who holds a seat in the local assembly under the wing of the Party of Pensioners. (Just how many Ukrainian pensioners enjoy this kind of lifestyle?)

The episode raised a firestorm of indignation at Ukrainian forums, with many netizens gloomily expecting the Odesa offender to get away with murder, Kalynovsky-style. (A few weeks after the accident, Serhiy Kalynovsky escaped from custody, which didn’t seem particularly tight, and left the country. He is now wanted by Interpol.)

So, the burning questions would be as follows: Are those NUNS-sponsored ambulances coming on schedule or not? Will the killer kids get jailed or will they remain untouchable? A single ambulance for Chernovetsky doesn’t get this country too far unless a holistic course of treatment will follow.

78,000 Ukrainians were injured in car accidents last year. Some 9,500 people died, up from the previous year's 7,600.



Friday, January 18, 2008

Lutsenko Assaults Chernovetsky After National Security Meeting

Sometimes, security fails when you expect some.

The Friday meeting of the National Security and Defense Council became a battlefield for Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky and Minister of the Interior Yuriy Lutsenko. No urine samples this time.

As the meeting drew to a close, the two had an argument, in which Chernovetsky publicly accused Lutsenko of extortion. According to Chernovetsky, Lutsenko offered not to bother his son, Stepan, in exchange for a handsome plot of land.

Upon hearing the allegation, Lutsenko couldn’t control himself, which resulted in a cascade of blows coming Chernovetsky’s way.

I am deeply disappointed by the news. And it’s not just the weight of the allegations levelled against Lutsenko and his grossly uncivil conduct that upsets me.
What upsets me most is Bohatyryova's inability as Secretary of National Security and Defense to stand for a man who wants to be a friend of the Party of Regions.

The incident generated considerable publicity in the evening news, and sparked a lively discussion on Savik Shuster’s Svoboda (Freedom) show.
Chernovetsky has promised to press charges against Lutsenko.



It was Lenin’s national policies that made it possible for Ukraine to become an independent state, and then, based on the free will of the Ukrainian people, to accede to the Soviet Union in 1922. Dzerzhinsky laid, so to speak, the foundation for Ukraine’s railroad, spurring its development. Isn’t this a good case in point?

— MP Petro Symonenko, leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine

Following Symonenko’s Leninite logic, Poland should worship Stalin for her post-WW II “independence” and for regaining Gdańsk.

And, of course, Pol Pot did his country proud. Who would have ever heard of a poor country like Cambodia had the Khmer Rouge not massacred 2 million Cambodians?

And by the way, isn’t it a little bourgeois for a Communist to wear a $10,000 watch in a country whose GDP per capita (PPP) hasn’t even approached that figure?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Surkis Makes Soccer of Ukrainian Politics

Hryhoriy Surkis, President of the Football Federation of Ukraine:

The President is the goalkeeper, who, as the Guarantor of the Constitution, today safeguards certain rights, including the rights of citizens to make their choice. Yanukovych was the midfielder —the midfielder who defended a certain bastion in connection with the Cabinet Bill, with the unwillingness to go for early elections, for it was deemed to be unconstitutional. But he did go. The brilliant striker was Tymoshenko, who called for early elections, made the early elections happen together with the President, and today that’s exactly why she occupies the Prime Minister’s seat.

That’s a nice role-playing game! And if Tymoshenko is the striker, I want her to deliver that Ukrainian Breakthrough rather than end up sandbagged with too much compromise. To be a good feminist in the man’s world of Ukrainian politics, she must resist the seductive and self-destructive power of Hillarization.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Yatsenyuk Move Closer to NATO

Ukraine’s President, Prime Minister, and Parliament Speaker have sent a joint letter to NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer applying for the Membership Action Plan, a stepping stone toward joining the organization.

We hope that the progress attained by Ukraine in the framework of the Intensified Dialogue on membership issues and related reform will, in the near term, be recognized by the Alliance. Today, Ukraine is interested in acceding to the NATO Membership Action Plan.

We expect that the readiness level of our country to assume new commitments will be the basis for an affirmative response at the next Ukraine-NATO Summit in Bucharest in April 2008.

The Party of Regions strongly opposes the move, which comes amid a visit by Richard Lugar, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.


That's the Way Dough Goes

Here’s another BYuTyful song:

Everybody’s curious about where the money came from, right? In just 10 days of the new Cabinet’s operation, we’ve succeeded in closing a substantial portion of the shadowy cash flows in the country, and we’ve substantially increased budget revenue by, basically, fighting corruption, tax evasion, and outright budget grabs. That’s where they money came from.

Do those guys get jailed or do they all become clean the moment they drop it?

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Ukraine a Borderline Case on 2008 Index of Economic Freedom

This year’s Index of Economic Freedom, compiled by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, features Ukraine as one step from the "Repressed" economies of Russia, Vietnam and Guyana.

The Index rates countries based on ten freedoms: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, freedom from government, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property freedom, freedom from corruption and labor freedom.

Ukraine ranks a dismal 133rd out of the 157 countries surveyed, and occupies the last slot in the "Mostly Unfree" category.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ukraine’s Richest Man Advocates Healthy Lifestyle, Recalls His Childhood

Rinat Akhmetov, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Zhovtneva Mine pool in Donetsk. (The pool reopened after renovation.)

Today, our youths and our kids will devote more time to sports and somehow will devote less time to alcohol and cigarettes. And that’s called a healthy lifestyle, a healthy generation, a healthy family.

I remember how one guy wanted to touch down the pool’s wall, and so he'd hit me in the face with all his might.

Quick facts:
SCM, a company owned by Akhmetov, controls Sarmat, one of the Big Four breweries in Ukraine. Lawyers for Mr. Akhmetov recently won a lawsuit against Obozrevatel, the Orange-leaning online news engine. The hearings, held in a London court, concerned a series of articles by Tetyana Chornovil, in which she portrayed Akhmetov’s youth based on several interviews.

An estimated 700,000 people are suffering from alcohol abuse in Ukraine. According to a WHO study, alcohol consumption among Ukrainian teenagers makes our country second to none.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kyiv in Colors 3
The Four Seasons of Political Campaigning

With the Oranges back in power, has Fukuyama’s end of history come? Not at all! And if I should borrow from Tymoshenko’s rhetoric, I’d say, “This is just the beginning.” In Kyiv, one can find harbingers of the presidential election 2009 here, there, and everywhere.

So here’s my Sunday promenade through Kyiv in pics and vids.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas! Your Dreams Will Come True!
(Not until we grab stabilnist by the balls. Not until we make every philanthrapist behave. Not until we make this country more livable.)

Merry Christmas! Love, Viktor Yushchenko.

Three in a Row, or Tomu Shcho Merry Christmas!

Don't Be Surprised to See Sights Like This in Kyiv
(If I were the President of Ukraine, I would seek re-election by investing in legislation on DUI, on emergency care, on animal rights, and on animal lovers' responsibilities. I would never litter the streets with expensive personality cult-like billboards that add no value to my people and annoy them.)

Both Sides of the Coin

Happy New Year! Leonid Chernovetsky. City Budget (UAH): 9 bn (2006), 17 bn (2007), 25 bn (2008)

If I were the Mayor of Kyiv, I'd be sure to spend some of that budget on street cleanup.

Billboard 1: Happy New Year! President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko.
Billboard 2: HIV/AIDS: Who's at Risk?

Rearranged: Danilych [Kuchma], Come Back!
(In the September parliamentary elections, the KUCHMA Bloc scored 0.1 percent of the vote. So, Danilych is not coming back anytime soon.)

Repressed: Danilych, the People Are with You!

Remixed: Daniylych, Save Ukraine!

McDonald's at Minska
(McDonald's customarily equips its local outlets with Ukrainian banners. This comes across as some sort of pledge of allegiance to the country in which they operate, now that America's image across the globe has seen better days.)

Anywhere You Go, I'll Follow You Down...

Double Impact

Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
Just the two of us, (Just the two of us)
Just the two of us, building castles in the sky
Just the two of us, you and I

Bohdan Khmelnytsky Monument at Sophiyivska Ploshcha (Square)
The red circle points to the recently built Hyatt Regency Kyiv. The Global Hyatt Corporation was founded by Abram Nicholas Pritzker, the
son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants.


Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

Underneath Maidan: Happy New Year and Merry Christmas! MP Vasyl Horbal.
(A member of the Party of Regions, Horbal allegedly controls Ukrgasbank and is the pillar of the local PRU chapter.)

More of Maidan

Qatar Cat, Check These Out!

The Passage at Khreshchatyk


Khreshchatyk Station

Kyiv City Hall, or Chernoco House

A Closer Look at Sardine-packed Construction
(The middle edifice being erected must be quite a bit of trouble for locals.)

The Central Department Store, aka ЦУМ, spelled tsoom (tsentralny univermag)

Sell an Apartment in This House, and You Can Buy a New One in Manhattan!

The Lonely Lady

Vote No. 4, Party of Regions
(September 2007)

Bourgeoisie of All Countries, Unite!
(You can also spend the night at Premier Palats, a 5-star hotel.)

Besarabsky Market

PEOPLEnet, Ukraine's First 3G Network

Stabilnist in the Exchange Rate
Unlike the rest of the world, the official Ukrainian exchange rate for the U.S. dollar has shown remarkable stability during the last eight years:
USD 100 = UAH 544.02 (2000), 537.21 (2001), 532.66 (2002), 533.27 (2003), 531.92 (2004), 512.47 (2005), 505.00 (2006), 505.00 (2007).

Who Cares About the Big Mac Index?