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Monday, March 31, 2008

Azarov Adds Apples to Oranges

MP Mykola Azarov, PRU, former Finance Minister: No questions, I just want to say that the State Treasury accounts contained 12 billion in foreign exchange and 12 billion in UAH, a total of 24 billion, Nikolai Ivanovich.

[addressing Mykola Syvulsky, chief of the Control and Inspection Directorate (Ukr acronym: KRU), the rough Ukrainian equivalent of the Government Accountability Office]

When an ordinary person misspeaks or miscalculates, you probably realize the same thing can happen to you. But when a former Finance Minister says something that strange, you start doing the math.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tymo to Head BYuT Ticket in Kyiv City Council Elections

PM Yulia Tymoshenko: Indeed, there will be a simultaneous election of the Kyiv Mayor and the Kyiv City Council, in which both the assembly and the mayor will be replaced. And I’ve made my final decision to certainly head the [BYuT] Kyiv City Council ticket. Why? It’s not an issue of me lacking a City Council member’s position. It’s merely a demonstration of responsibility before the city of Kyiv for the ticket’s quality, for every legislator, for the decisions that are made, for the policies that the Kyiv City Council will frame. This the capital of Ukraine, and I believe that it is exactly this demonstration of support for Kyivites and this demonstration of the highest level of my responsibility, and, by the way, I will also check whether Kyivites trust me personally — and that’s important, too — and that’s why I will go in order to demonstrate the responsibility and consistency of our policy.

Smart PR move! Speaking of support, however, the lofty rhetoric doesn’t do it much justice. The broken syntax does.

Indeed, there’s a gap between Kyivites’ support for BYuT in 2006 and the scant support Kyivites have received from BYuT in their struggle with the land-grabbers. Some of those land-grabbers came to the City Council under the BYuT brand.

So, if BYuT wants to talk about responsibility, they should start by taking responsibility for the "quality" of the 2006 ticket.

Will BYuT undo some of the damage done during the last two years and bring the guys who did it to justice? They’d better do!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kolesnikov on Kyiv Mayoral Race

MP Borys Kolesnikov, PRU: Well, we have, according law, 15 days, starting today. We will decide on our candidate, and our main effort will go into the Kyiv City Council, that is, the Party of Regions’ representation in the Kyiv City Council. I want to emphasize that the Party of Regions has always insisted on the independence of regions, including financial and administrative independence. That’s why I believe that Kyivites should support us, meaning, to the extent that we, so to speak, win their sympathy and trust.

In plain English, that means supporting Chernovetsky for Mayor while trying to increase the PRU presence in the Kyiv City Council, right?

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Friday, March 28, 2008

New NUNS on the Block/Run

Some spiders eat their mother when they hatch. It doesn’t take an arachnologist to detect this modus vivendi in Ukrainian politics.

Last year, Ukraine witnessed a para-democratic phenomenon called party shopping — the practice of MPs teleporting themselves from Party A to Party B after the election, not without certain materialistic inducements. Bottom line: dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada; a snap election.

This year, we're witnessing an innovative development that can be termed as post-election party building. Objective:

1. Creatively destroy the Orange Coalition;

2. Secure, through skillful ideological maneuvering and oligarch-poaching, the re-election of President Yushchenko.

At least, that’s what it looks like.

On Thursday, the six NUNS MPs who had left NUNS a few weeks ago, without relinquishing their parliamentary seats, formed the nucleus of a party called Yedyny Tsentr (United Center).

Initially branded as Hart (Ukr. quenching, hardening, tenacity, etc), the party has rebranded to a more clear-cut identity, presumably acting on communications advice.

Some analysts believe that the real leader, the mastermind who unites the six NUNS in their tenacity, is Viktor Baloha, chief of the Presidential Secretariat. (The formal party boss is MP Ihor Kril.)

One can view Yedyny Tsentr as a political escape pod in the utopian goal of rebranding Yushchenko as the nation’s leader, with the moral glue to bridge the rift between the east and the west. In the real word, if anyone could re-slice and splice the electoral pie, Yushchenko would be the wrong guy for the job.

Like an insect caught in a spider web, Yushchenko doesn’t even seem to flap his wings anymore, his Orangeness sucked out of him. To the vast majority of his 2004 voters, the man is a shadow of his former self. He drones stabilnist time and again. But that hardly makes him more appealing to easterners, who largely vote against him.

When one’s need for a genuine rebirth takes a back seat to one's re-election drive, strange things happen. Justice Stanik, whom President Yushchenko fired last May for “breach of oath,” amid accusations of bribery, has been reinstated. That about wraps it up for “one law for all.”

One should keep in mind that some female spiders devour their male mates once they’re done mating. But that’s another success story, that is, the story of another, more powerful female waiting to happen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chernovetsky Deputy: We’ll Win Anyway

As the mayoral campaign heats up, blowing hot air and exuding bravado becomes the trademark.

Deputy Kyiv Mayor Oles Dovhy: Indeed, Kyiv Day is the day when a rather large number of mass events will be held, and it’s all of those young people who will be active and present in the city of Kyiv. It’s accident that this [election] day coincides with Kyiv Day. And I have absolutely reliable information that this is one of one of our opponents’ technical tricks. But even having realized that even a high turnout will not help any of our opponents win, they are now obsessed with the idea of a two-round election. So let me warn you, gentlemen: Even with two rounds, three, four, or five — and no matter how you change the election law throughout the campaign process — we’ll win anyway.

As you can see from this poster, the confident Deputy Mayor has quite a few fans on the Web raving mad about him.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cow Dung Showered on Zaporizhzhya Mayor

Tuesday was a bad day for Zaporizhzhya Mayor Ihor Meshchan.

It breaks my heart to think of all the better candidates left behind. That’s not fair!


"Mayor of All Martians" Spoof Song

I love this song! It supplies a terrific theme to Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky’s two-year "star trek."

In my poetic translation, the refrain goes like this:

Leo the Martian, Leo the Martian
It’s not in booze that he seeks his passion
He’ll sell the land, he’ll bring happiness
On planet Earth he’s a huge success

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking a Few Shots at Imported Racism in Ukraine

Skinhead, speaking in Russian: Let’s take a straight look at whom we have in our country…uh…uh…at who comes to our country. This is not America, where they have Arabs coming, professors, scientists, medics and so on. What we have coming to us is the regular kind of trash. They come, and then we start thinking why we have so much AIDS and so on. That’s the guys who spread it: those Georgians, those Negroes. They create no value. That’s what we’re fighting against. There’s this phrase that we skinheads do what the police fails to do.

Minister of the Interior, Yuriy Lutsenko, speaking in Ukrainian: Often, these are regular street robberies and assaults. But I have to admit that today, in Ukraine, and in Kyiv specifically, there are large racist teenage groups. In our two months of work this year, we found more than 500 members of the skinhead movement in Kyiv alone.

Most of the blame for not doing enough to combat hate crime lies with law enforcement.

Yet much of the blame also lies with the media for lack of awareness-raising efforts. The Ukrainian media often under-investigate hate crime, viewing it strictly through a social prism, without properly examining its cultural undercurrents and organizational structure.

Russian Nationalism v Ukrainian Nationalism
In many cases, if not in most, perpetrators of hate crime draw inspiration from Russian-influenced nationalism and extremism. The rule of thumb is that Ukrainian nationalists define themselves by opposition to Russian neo-imperialism. Therefore, when portraying hate crime in Ukraine, care should be taken to distinguish Russian nationalism from Ukrainian nationalism.

However, using language as a cue may not always work when it comes to more sophisticated organizations — the new wave of imported racism. Once in Ukraine, these racist organizations mask themselves as “Ukrainian.”

Here’s how their “Ukrainization” works. First, they steep themselves in Ukrainian nationalist slogans. And then, the trick comes. Instead of taking on the Kremlin, they redirect the anger of their Ukrainian converts/partners at Africans, Asians, and former Soviet republic nationals.

This retargeting technique unleashes an array of lethal isms against them: white supremacism,
Moscowcentric pan-Slavism, neo-imperialism, monarchism and neo-Nazism. (All of this in a country that lost more lives to Nazism than any Western country.)

Until recent years, violence against non-Slav immigrants could be traced to a number of isolated incidents. It was with the arrival of imported ideology that hate crime climbed to a statistically significant level in Ukraine.

If you study these organizations’ frontline messages, you almost start feeling as if Stalin, Russification and Russian neo-imperialism never existed in the first place. (These issues traditionally — and legitimately — make the top of the list in the vocal but rarely violent Ukrainian nationalist community.)

Now, if you do a little thinking, you start realizing which way the wind is blowing.

What’s in a Name?
Vestiges of such infiltrative retargeting can be publicly observed. In their expansion strategies, some organizations prefer to Ukrainize without completely erasing their non-Ukrainian identity.

Take UDPNI (Ukrainskoye Dvizheniye Protiv Nelegalnoi Immigratsii), or the Ukrainian Movement Against Illegal Immigration. UDPNI makes no effort to conceal its striking brand-name similarity to DPNI (Dvizheniye Protiv Nelegalnoi Immigratsii), its putative Russian mother ship.

Below are some non-standard Cyrillic brand extensions of those acronyms:

NDPNI (Rus. Narodnoye Dvizheniye Protiv Nelegalonoi Immigratsii)

NRPNI (Ukr. Narodny Rukh Proty Nelegalnoyi Imigratsiyi)

Here's another one, the Ukrainian Eurasian Movement, a local affiliate of the Moscow-based Eurasian Youth Movement (ESM).

Patriot Ukrayiny, which positions itself as a "social nationalist" party, pretty much resembles Russian-based national socialist organizations. Alas, Patriot Ukrayiny almost has no quarrel with Russian neo-imperialism. Instead, the organization specializes in issues of race and illegal immigration.

In a country that will host Euro 2012, it is this kind of ideological “immigration” that must be made illegal. Ukrainian law enforcement must stop turning a blind eye to hate crime and must act vigorously, setting an example for our neighbors to follow.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Yushchenko: Hands Off Chernovetsky?

The Kyiv community — and you can trust me on that one — is capable of deciding who will be Mayor on its own, being guided solely by the law and election procedure. Therefore, when it comes to relieving one person or another of their duties, we should be guided solely by the law. Then we’ll have nothing left unspoken. Then we won’t have a feeling that legal concerns were dominated by political concerns, just because someone wanted to initiate this process…uh…to expedite it politically, only to end up having problems with the law of the land. When Parliament passes such resolutions, in my opinion, we should be guided by the law.
Mr. President, can you tell us what kind of "law" Mayor Chernovetsky has been guided by throughout his two years of office? Is that the "law" you support for the city that gave you so much support?

Do you believe that by following the law of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” you increase your chances of re-election?

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Still no sign of life from doomed ship off Hong Kong: official (Updated)

15 hours ago

HONG KONG (AFP) — The head of Hong Kong's marine department said on Monday there was still no sign of life from the Ukrainian ship which sank with 18 missing crew presumed trapped on board.

Nearly 48 hours after the boat went down on Saturday night, divers have been unable to get any response from inside the doomed vessel.


Eighteen Ukrainians missing in Hong Kong shipwreck

Sun Mar 23, 6:35 AM ET

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Eighteen Ukrainian sailors are missing after their tug boat sank off the Hong Kong coast following a collision with a cargo ship last night, local media reported on Sunday.

Seven people were rescued, including several that were taken to hospital, Hong Kong radio said.

The 18 crew members were believed to be trapped inside the engine room and the cabins of the boat, which was lying capsized at a depth of 35-metres on the seabed, RTHK radio quoted Wong Chung-shing, a Fire Services divisional commander, as saying.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ukraine’s Richest Man Launches His Third Stage of Charity

I very much like these words: “Charity speaks with a quiet voice.” That’s why I would quietly reach for my pocket and help those in need. That was my credo. That was my first stage of charity. But, unfortunately, in our country, we have systemic problems. And no one can solve them with a quiet voice. So today, right at this moment, there starts my third stage of charity — a stage of my own personal responsibility. Why did I come to this decision? It’s because I will practice charity at all times.

— Rinat Akhmetov, net worth: $14.6 billion, according to Fokus magazine, the Ukrainian equivalent of Forbes

As long as Ukraine remains one of Europe's poorest countries — while generating multi-billion profits annually — the ball is in Mr. Akhmetov’s court to match words with deeds. Let’s see the color of his money.

Let’s see whether his commitment will pull the rug from under unfavorable reports like this one (Ukr).

When it comes to social responsibility and its voice in the court of public opinion, impressive bottom-line results win more admirers than redressive legal action.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Another Monster to Dwarf Kyiv Landscape for $100 M Profit

Get a glimpse of yet another Godzilla with which local developers plan to decorate the picturesque hills overlooking the Dnipro, in place of a cathedral destroyed by the Bolsheviks. (See below.)

Adding to a similarly designed riverfront edifice built there a few years ago, the 18-storied upscale high-rise about to be erected will further degrade the architectural makeup of Kyiv. The project, which promises a profit of $100 million, has already kicked off, scrapping the local children’s playground.

The brainchild of the greedy developers will cast a permanent blight on nearby landmarks, including Askold’s Tomb, Kalynovy Hai (Holodomor Memorial Park), the Kruty Monument (the latter two founded by President Yushchenko), and the Orthodox shrine of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.

At a time when the city prepares to celebrate the 1020th anniversary of Christianity’s introduction into Kyivan Rus, the hills from which Christianity spread throughout the eastern Slavic region will be bowing down to the God of Money for all the world to see. (Good morning, Mr. President!)

Apparently some home builders are relying on their hard-earned stacks of money and urban planners to build themselves a stairway to heaven.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Peaceful Protesters Beaten by ‘Cops for Construction’

Construction of the “anthrax house” has become a showcase for how virulent the profit motive can be in the weak immune system of Ukraine’s public interest.

Even if the prospect of digging up anthrax spores does not violate the construction company’s conscience, building a high-rise on a tiny, hilly and erosion-prone piece of land — right outside the hospital’s windows — certainly violates basic construction regulations. The pictures speak for themselves.

In Kyiv, if you protest against such violations peacefully, the violators will use violence against you. In episode after episode, police have acted as a proxy for the “powers that be,” something they obviously did at this March 16 anti-construction rally.

Narrator: Several people blocked traffic at Shovkovychna Street. Law enforcement construed it as a violation of civil rights.
Your conduct is now in violation of the law. Please vacate the lane!

To hold today’s rally, residents and employees of the Oleksandrivska Hospital have received a permit from the City Hall. But this document is being ignored by the police.

Police commanding officer:
Have two officers grab everyone of them by the arm and pull them away!

Get in!

Protesters: Look what the police are doing! Look how the police are behaving!

But all of a sudden, Police General Hennadiy Moskal appears at the scene. He is reserved in his comments.

General Moskal:
I have no idea what happened here. I was just passing by. They’re doing silly things on Sunday instead of work. I’ll find out right away. I told them to go back to the precinct. Let them file reports to Lutsenko tomorrow, detailing what they did here.

Police watcher Tetyana Montyan, speaking ironically:
We here cracked down on a peaceful rally, and then we realized what we had done. Moskal arrived to turn the situation around, but it was too late because everyone had already participated in the clashes.

Can you rise or should we get a stretcher?

Brutalized protester:
Let me try.

Just try moving your body a little bit first, OK? Then I’ll get you to the ambulance and we’ll see.

Brutalized protester: Everything works.

It does?

Protester: Everything works, but it hurts.

That’s the way Chernoco works. Here’s a video of police violence from a previous Shovkovychna St. sit-in.

Lev Malolitniy, anesthesiologist: They’re taking away the land, depriving our residents of sunshine and light. Here, take a look. Imagine a 17-storied high rise here. Down there are the departments of urology and ophthalmology. What will our residents be seeing? How will they be living there? How will they be recovering?

Man in civvies: Get your car out of there. Did I come here to play games with you?

Are you feeling sick?

Sit-in protester: Very sick.
Female protester:
Yes, he is.

Come here.

Male protester:
The man’s sick. Where are you taking him?

Sit-in protester: Look, my heart hurts! What are you doing? My heart hurts! My heart hurts!
Man in civvies: Yeah, it hurts! It’s your [censored] that’s gonna hurt, son of a bitch!

Sit-in protester, screaming in pain:
Oh, my ha-a-a-a-a-a-nd, damn it!
Man in civies: Yeah, your hand. Your hand’s gonna hurt, son of a bitch!

Prof. Vadym Berezovsky, local:
The 3-meter wall has already been carved out. We’re afraid that the same thing will happen to our house as it happened over at Zhylyanska St, where a construction site next to a pre-Revolution house completely destroyed the latter.

Volodymyr Mikunov, construction company production director:
People? What about them? This is unhealthy egoism. Don’t you remember that there were some 50 signatories petitioning against the erection of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, including Dumas, Maurois, and other great writers. And today the Eiffel tower is the pride and hallmark of all France. Likewise, the house that will be built here will become the pride of all Kyiv.
What a healthy sense of egoism this guy projects!

According to the Ukrayinska Pravda report, Prof. Vadym Berezovsky, 76, displayed below, has spent a few weeks in the hospital after the clashes.

Meanwhile, the Oleksandrivska Hospital has threatened a strike in the event construction continues, leaving only one department, emergency, in opereation. Andriy Manchuk, a journalist who attended the anti-construction rally, is undergoing treatment for head injury there.

One last thing. Did the "healthy ego" guy refer to André Maurois and Alexandre Dumas as the people who had a problem with the Eiffel Tower? That's very interesting! André Maurois, the French writer, was born in 1885. Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, died in 1870. The Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889.

You do the math.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kolesnikov: “Banning the Party of Regions Is Like Banning the Sunrise”

MP Borys Kolesnikov, PRU: Banning the Party of Regions is like banning the sunrise. I’m telling this to my opponents upfront. I want to tell these pseudo-nat…pseudo-patriots that the Party of Regions — and the regions they represent — have made the biggest contribution to Ukraine’s independence. And they have secured the economic dependence [sic] of Ukraine…Ukraine. So here’s how it is: They’ve learned this anthem in the Ukrainian language, they put their hands on their hearts, or wallets, they sing this anthem and that makes them the patriots. And the fact that the south and the east are working around the clock and are securing eco…economic independence — the Donetsk oblast alone accounts for 25 percent of the country’s GDP. That’s inde…the contribution to the country’s independence.

The Party of Regions has a progressive record of thought-provoking slips of the tongue. In 2004, it was presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych who spiced up the debates with “We must secure for our citizenry a state of feeling insecure.”

It didn’t stop there. Soon, the foot-in-mouth trajectory of Yanukovych’s rhetoric put a whole new spin on some of the big names in local poetry and industry.

So how does the word independence figure into the Ukrainian economy? Most of the export-oriented industry of southeastern Ukraine operates independently of domestic consumption.

Short of that, it’s one sort of dependence or another. The metals they pump for sale to China depend on cheap labor, cheap natural resources, cheap pollution, and “cheap” energy.

Kolesnikov's 25 percent figure for Donetsk oblast’s contribution to Ukraine’s GDP constitutes a steep decline from the “80 percent” urban legend that energizes every election campaign in the east. (The fact that Donbas did not pose as the sole donor of Ukraine's industrialization gets scant notice.)

Meanwhile, no such decline can be witnessed in the net worth of the local oligarchy. The sun never sets on the dons of Donbas.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parliament Votes for New Mayoral Elections in Kyiv

It finally happened! In a long-awaited vote, the Verkhovna Rada Tuesday paved the way for new mayoral elections to be held in Kyiv within 70 days. That means the elections will be held in early June.

Kyiv Mayor Leonid "Kosmos" Chernovetsky: I’m in the middle of a political process. I’m not thinking about resignation. I have lots of things to do. But, in principle, my readiness — to do whatever needs to be done to make everyone better-off — it is there 100 percent. I’m a man of resolve, and…uh…it’s, like, not a problem for me.

Amen to that! Hopefully, today’s vote will mark the beginning of the end for the two years of Chernoco's rule. Let the countdown begin: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ignition!


Making Fun of Failure

PM Tymoshenko: We’ll do everything to have Yosyp Vinsky travel by handcar. After all, he’s the Minister of Transport, right? Let him travel. Would that be fine? Hahaha! All right. Still, I really don’t think we have a problem there. I think Yosyp Vinsky is a very modest person, and he will never indulge in any kind of misappropriation. You know, I’m proud of having such a team in our government today. I want to ask: When will the time come when officials will bear responsibility for having plundered Ukraine so bigtime? And Yosyp Vinsky will go on being a modest person, and will be further driving modestly.

What a modest punishment for breaking the self-extolled rules!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Chernovetsky: “I Can Have Any Minister Bend Over and Take It”

Kyiv Mayor Chernovetsky: To tell you the truth, with all the ambition I’ve got, there’s no position in Ukraine that I would crave, because I’m fully fulfilled. Today, I can easily have any Minister bend over and take it — that’s no problem — and a being a Minister is not much of a position to me. But if I get kicked out of the Church…

Congregation: Hahaha!

Chernovetsky: …that will be my biggest loss.

— Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, speaking at an Embassy of God church service

First of all, at least one Minister has already proven him wrong in his “Christian” confidence.

Second, for some reason, Chernovetsky has remained with the Church despite the avalanche of land scandals that would defrock any officeholder or church member in any Western country.

All of which suggests that the Embassy of God works in mysterious ways.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Raisa Bohatyryova: From Separatist to Stateswoman

I want to call on you to support me, and I want to address everyone who hears us and who will learn about our convention. The day it gets into someone’s head to have a rerun election, we won’t go with it. We will hold a referendum on the creation of a Southeastern State — and that’s the answer to all questions.

— MP Raisa Bohatyryova, PRU, speaking at the Severodonetsk Convention, November 2004

Today the positive thing is that Ukraine — without haste and in talks with the European Union, with the Russian Federation, with the United States of America, and with the Security Council of the United Nations, taking into consideration the interests of both disputants — is trying, in this way, to find and define a solution that would, first and foremost, promote the national interests of Ukraine and the European community.

— Raisa Bohatyryova, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, addressing the issue of recognizing Kosova, March 2008

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t it stabilnist we can believe in?

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P.S. Here’s an Ocean’s 11 spoof that aptly illustrates Bohatyroyova’s transmogrification.

Yushchen’s 11
The enemies want to take away everything from him: his approval ratings, his power, and even his second term. But he doesn’t give up and calls his friends. The guys who won’t let his victory be stolen are: Bohatyryova, Yekhanurov, Yatsenyuk, Semenyuk, Baloha and his six NUNS defectors.

Watch in Ukrainian the blockbuster Yushchen’s 11.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Crimean Commies Torch NATO Coffin as Merkel Says Nyet

Crimean Communists held an anti-NATO rally today in Simferopol. First, the public was regaled by young artists, who played President, Prime Minister and Speaker. Having talked over the issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the amateur actors signed the widely-publicized Letter of the Three, after which they were run out of the square in shame. Activists from the Communist Crimean movement swiftly and publicly burned the signed sheet. Tossed into the flames was a coffin with a NATO caption, evidently symbolizing the demise of the North Atlantic Alliance.

Serhiy Nikulin, Chairman of the Union of Soviet Officers of Crimea: Ukraine will never be in NATO. Now, Pan President — or what should we call you or refer to you — this is what we want to say: It will never happen — no matter what you sign and no matter what writings you sling to Brussels. Because we won’t let it happen. There’s only one reason: The Slavic world is united. Nobody has ever succeeded in splitting it, and we won’t let it happen, ever.

Hey, what about Poland and the Czech Republic? Aren’t they Slav countries?

Local NATO naysayers are having a field day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a statement discarding Ukraine as a candidate for NATO membership. Her statement echoes that of outgoing Russian President Putin, with whom she had met on March 8. Both share a past of living and working in the GDR. (Putin has reportedly offered to contribute Russian troops to NATO operations in Afghanistan in exchange for NATO’s rejection of Ukraine and Georgia.)

With 53 percent of Ukrainians opposed to NATO membership, Merkel chose to entrench herself in the Old Europe v New Europe chasm. She went out of her way to make Ukraine’s membership prospects appear even more remote.

In what closely resembles Schröder's policy of GasPutin-pleasing, she obviously targeted the agenda at the Bucharest Summit, slated for April 2-4. Her message: The Orange Coalitions’s MAP application letter will get a strong kaput from Germany. (Well, perhaps nyet would be more geopolitically correct.)

This message effectively puts to rest hope of a more Ukraine-friendly/less Kremlin-oriented Ostpolitik.

Even Washington, Ukraine’s most influential friend, will hardly compensate for lack of ground support in the Old European theater.

President Bush is expected to pay a cheerleading visit to Kyiv on March 31-April 1, on the eve of the Bucharest Summit. Still, in his capacity as a lame duck of deplorable global credentials, Bush stands little chance of helping Ukraine get her foot in the NATO door.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Identity Crisis: ‘Wayward Official’ or ‘Persona Non Grata?’

You’re gonna love this one! Here’s a man of kosmic candor and introspection:

We live in a country where a wayward official, so to speak, meaning one who refuses to meet special interests halfway — which is what I am — is certainly a persona non…well, I wouldn’t call it non grata, but at least one who does create problems…

I don’t know about bread, but we’ve got circus galore. That’s for sure!

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Kosmos: Approval Ratings Interfere With My Work

Here’s one hell of a kosmic confession from a guy who used to hide behind Yushchenko’s apron strings as he ducked from Tymoshenko’s thunderbolt.

He’s now playing cat and mouse with her, having taken a two-week sabbatical from his job, sanctioned by the President. The move, pending a probe into his activities, raises suspicions of a well-choreographed team play between the City Hall and the Secretariat of the President.

When one's power is being shaken…uh…one certainly should think about ratings. And this interferes with my work. I understand the rules of the game. I keep tabs on how strong I am to defeat any challenger. But this certainly creates interference in the city.

Isn’t there a deeper meaning to his words, one he may not be aware of? I mean, if his approval ratings “interfere” with his work, then what kind of “work” does he do? Could it be that his work interferes with the daily lives of Kyivites who rate him?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Socialist 500L

Ukrayinska Pravda grills the transportation habits of Yosyp Vinsky, a former member of the Socialist Party and current Minister of Transport.

As shown in the picture, Mr. Vinsky was recently sighted exiting a Mercedes S500L 4Matic. Further investigation revealed that the car belongs to SMAP, a state-owned company controlled by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), and carries a price tag of 1,167,000 hryvnias ($231,090).

That’s a tad too bourgeois, considering the manifesto with which the Tymoshenko Cabinet graced the airwaves a month and a half ago:

As long as there are poor people in Ukraine, Cabinet members will not be buying such expensive cars. If you look at the French government, they don’t ride in S-Class there. Even in America you won’t see such things. And here it’s as if we’re the richest country.

The promise boiled down to a price cap of $100,000 on cars purchased for Cabinet members. Technically, the car was not procured for the MoT. Still, it does give the impression that some Cabinet folks are too cool to observe the $100,000 rule.

When questioned about the story, Vinsky casually replied: “I don’t know what car I ride in. I just use what they gave me.”

That’s no accident. In Ukraine, $ocialists and civil $erpents spend tons of money without noticing it.

Take Vinsky’s former colleague and MoT predecessor Mykola Rudkovsky, whose embezzlement case is pending investigation. And don’t forget former Naftogaz chairman Oleksiy Ivchenko, another S500 Mercedes lover bankrolled by taxpayers’ money, whose love of luxury sparked a scandal that cost him his job.

It remains to be seen whether the stink will sink the king this time.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Do Ya Think I’m Stable? ‘Stabilnist Daddy’ Parcels Out Flowers on Women’s Day

The Party of Regions celebrates International Women’s Day in a special way. Witness a “go-for-it” approach to gender:

Opposition Leader Yanukovych: May you always be as beautiful as you are today…
MP Hanna Herman, PRU: Thank you, Viktor Fedorovych [in Ukraine, the formal address includes a patronymic.]
Yanukovych: …yes, with that smile you’ve got.

Yanukovych: Innochka… [diminutive for Inna]
MP Inna Bohoslovska, PRU: You are so beautiful! There’s so much warmth coming from you. Thank you so much! Thank you!

Yanukovych: Lenochka… You look so worried today. You’re worrying.
MP Olena Lukash, PRU: Hahaha!
Yanukovych: What agenda? Today’s a holiday!

Yanukovych, speaking in surzhyk: Can you…can you see what…what’s happening today? Again and again, we congratulate women, right from the very morning today. Let’s get to work. Yes, we’ll be working.

Yep, here’s a guy who plans his work and works his plan.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Totally Spaced Out: Kosmos Grabs Mike…Instead of Fountain Pen

Kyiv Mayor Leonid “Kosmos” Chernovetsky didn’t get his nickname for nothing.

During the signing of the Euro 2012 cooperation agreement between Kyiv and Krakow, Kyiv Mayor had his attention span in a shambles. Instead of using the fountain pen, he mistakenly groped his way around the microphone through which he had delivered his speech just a minute ago. Thankfully, the aides quickly noticed the attempt to destroy the microphone and averted an international faux pas. Breaking microphones during the signing of a bilateral agreement is kind of un-European.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Yanuk Lived, Yanuk Lives, Yanuk Will Live!

Regionalist’s Digest

As the Party of Regions slams the door on Constitution talks and mobilizes her supporters against NATO — Soviet style — it’s s-h-o-w-t-i-m-e!

Welcome to our latest edition of Regionalist’s Digest.

The orange fist, failing to hit lawlessness, strikes in the people’s faces

A statement by the Party of Regions’ Press Service

03.03.2008, 12:42

The Party of Regions demands to cease pursuits of its activists and adherers, which have recently acquired pattern of political revenge from the orange power again. Persecution, intimidation of ordinary citizens - teachers, doctors, culture workers, clericals, only because they express an opinion different from the orange in public, are obtaining mass nature especially in regions which are considered as those, where the orange team had received advantage at the elections.

Every day the Party of Regions receives letters from various cities and villages of Ukraine, in which citizens ask for protection from moral terror, which they undergo at work according to instructions from the top.

Calls from Lviv region are especially disturbing, where, for example, pursuits of faithful to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who are not allowed to build churches, publicly offended and humiliated, have become more cruel.

Illegal dismissals from work of middle-level workers become a standard of daily practice which is executed by the authorities throughout Ukraine. People have despaired in searching for justice. And intimidation and direct pursuit for political convictions have turned to disgraceful sign of our time.

II All-Ukrainian Congress of deputies of all levels (Severodonetsk, March 1, 2008): photo report

Viktor Yanukovych congratulated Dmitriy Medvedev with a convincing victory at the presidential elections

03.03.2008, 10:22

Viktor Yanukovych congratulated Dmitriy Medvedev with a convincing victory at the presidential elections and wished success in a further development of the state.

Delegates of the congress in Severodonetsk have adopted a resolution

01.03.2008, 16:46

The II All-Ukrainian congress of deputies of all-level councils in Severodonetsk completed its work with adoption of a resolution, which was proclaimed by People’s Deputy, the Party of Regions parliamentary faction member Anatoliy Tolstoukhov, ‘Glavred’ informs.

It states that ‘a so-called coalition of democratic powers, backed by the Head of the State, professes philosophy of the past, ideology of revenge, practice of social populism, technologies of informational manipulation and moral of political irresponsibility’.

Delegates of the congress claim that ‘political actions of the power seem to be undisguised invasion on country’s history, its humanitarian sphere, moral values system in increasing frequency’.

Having examined issues on the congress’ agenda, its delegates considered as necessary, particularly, to upgrade a chapter of the Constitution of Ukraine about local self-government through strengthening financial support and powers of local councils;

- to approve the Declaration on rights of Russian culture and cultures of other people, elaborate and introduce to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine drafts on retaining Russian and regional languages in the sphere of cinematography, television, education, judicial system, public service;

Viktor Yanukovych: The Security Service of Ukraine conducts preventive work with delegates of Severodonetsk congress

29.02.2008, 15:02

During today's press-conference the Party of Regions Leader Viktor Yanukovych informed journalists that all delegates of II All-Ukrainian congress of deputies of all levels, which is to take place on March 1 in Severodonetsk, are subject to administrative pressure.

To confirm the above mentioned Viktor Yanukovych showed the press a document where such actions were listed. “For example, all delegates from Sevastopol were asked to visit the SSU, where they underwent ‘preventive work’,” - the Party of Regions Leader said.

Anatoliy Kinakh: Ukraine together with the EU will elaborate measures to surmount negative balance in foreign trade

28.02.2008, 18:25

Ukraine plans together with the European Union to elaborate a number of measures to surmount negative balance in bilateral trade. As People’s Deputy, the Party of Regions parliamentary faction member Anatoliy Kinakh informed, it was an issue at the Committee on Parliamentary Collaboration between Ukraine and the EU meeting in Brussels.

According to Anatoliy Kinakh, in 2007 Ukraine showed high growth of trade with the European Union, at the 27% level. Trade volume from the EU reached 41 billion dollars last year. The European Union’s share in the total trade of Ukraine amounted 34%.

‘While politicians are conducting discussions about forms and rates of integration, one should admit that Ukraine’s economic activity within the European Union is obvious, therefore integration has already occurred’, – Anatoliy Kinakh marked.

The Party of Regions claims to introduce temporary moratorium on privatization

28.02.2008, 11:53

Performance of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Government is ever exposing to threat Ukraine’s economic security and welfare of 30 million citizens.

On February 22 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved a list of enterprises for privatization in 2008. There are 400 joint-stock companies and holding companies. However, on January 16 the Government listed units, privatization of which was to exceed indices stipulated in the 2008 budget.

Besides, Tymoshenko’s Government wants to sell off shares of profitable joint-stock companies - Ukrtelecom, Odessa Port Plant, Turboatom and also several regional energy distribution companies (oblenergos).

This Government undertook a doubtful record striving to sell off assets on a sum larger than for all previous years of privatization.

Viktor Yanukovych and Javier Solana discussed ways and challenges of Ukraine’s European integration

27.02.2008, 19:19

During a meeting in Brussels Party of Regions Leader Viktor Yanukovych and Secretary-General of the EU Council of Ministers, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana paid much attention to the questions of Ukraine’s European integration and signing a new EU-Ukraine extended treaty.

Viktor Yanukovych positively estimated progress attained in negotiations on a new extended treaty between Ukraine and the EU during 2007.

In negotiating process we have passed almost half of the way, – Viktor Yanukovych stated. – It becomes increasingly more difficult as it requires more compromise from the parties.

Vasiliy Gorbal: I have always insisted on conducting inventory of all deposits with ‘Savings Bank’ at first, and only then make payments

27.02.2008, 17:49

Party of Regions Deputy, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Finance and Banking member Vasiliy Gorbal commented on President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko’s letter to Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in which the Head of the state demands from the Government to resume registration of depositors of depreciated savings immediately.

According to V.Gorbal, he has always insisted on conducting of inventory of all deposits with ‘Savings Bank’ at first, and only then make payments. He marked that the Government pursued another way with a purpose of receiving the most rapid social result, namely, disbursing at once. ‘Naturally, it entailed all those problems which ‘Savings Bank’ faced later during payments’, - the Member of Parliament said, ‘ForUm’ informs.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

When Tears Don’t Lie (And Should Be Taken Seriously)

Here’s food for thought from last Friday’s Savik Shuster’s Svoboda talk show:

Volodymyr Lytvyn: If we have resourceful teachers, if we have resourceful parents, we won’t have untalented kids. One last thing: I am confident that in families where the parents take interest in everything, the kids won’t need to be taught how to read.

Savik Shuster: Thank you. Can you tell us why you’re crying? Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Girl: A killer. [roar of laughter from the audience]

Savik Shuster: A killer?
Girl: Dear politicians…

Savik Shuster: But killers don’t cry.
Girl: Dear politicians, there you are, accusing each other of all kinds of thieves…thievery, but you all know — and, you know, Mr. Prosecutor [camera catches Piskun], too, will probably corroborate — that wrongdoers and criminals will always come back to the crime scene. Why do you always come back to power? Why don’t you let me live? Why don’t you let me voice my opinion?

Savik Shuster: Could you tell us your name?
Girl: Sofia.

Savik Shuster: Where are you from?
Girl: I’m from the city of Lviv.

Savik Shuster: And how old are you?
Girl: I’m 15.

Savik Shuster: And where do you study?
Girl: Um…at school. [squeezes out a laugh]

Savik Shuster: I understand that.
Girl: I’ve also been an active member of the Children’s Academy of Sciences for three years.

Savik Shuster: Wonderful! Do you promise us not to cry again?
Girl: No, I’m not a politician to promise anything.

A gripping video, isn’t it? This girl isn’t kidding, is she? The emotional yet mature grasp of Ukrainian politics she demonstrates should make the “powers that be” think — before it’s too late.

When she says “I’m not a politician to promise anything,” she makes it sound like “that’s not the shape of my heart.”

Now look at her hairstyle. What do you see?

So how long before payback time begins? How long before we have folks like Mathilda and Léon the Professional scouring this country, screwing back the proFFessors who screwed them?

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