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Monday, June 09, 2008

Yatsenyuk on Oligarch Disunity

Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk: You know what the good thing in Ukraine is right now? The good thing is, we don’t have an authoritarian government. There’s no one tsar. That’s our only salvation.

Vitaliy Portnykov, journalist: Well, that’s because the oligarchs haven’t agreed. That’s why we have no tsar.

Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk: And they won’t agree, make no mistake! They won’t agree. They can agree on an ad hoc basis once in a blue moon. And the fact that they won’t agree is our key salvation. We can’t make tsarism in this state. We can’t make absolutism in this state. And it’s a hard road. Some say we need an iron hand. We need no iron hand. Let them read history books about the iron hand — about how all those stories end.

Mr. Yatsenyuk makes a good point as long as he doesn’t mean that clans of competing oligarchs can be a substitute for democracy.

A checks and balances system that relies on oligarchs instead of citizens would only continue depopulating Ukraine.

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Anonymous said...

Well, Yatseniuk found a silver lining in a big cloud, and he does have a point, sort of. And Taras, you said it exactly right - democracy is not about a few oligarchs having constant pie fights with each other to the tune of billions of dollars, while the rest of the population sucks eggs.

Yanukovych's son, no doubt due to his expertise in billiards, is a member of the Rada. But it seems he really hasn't had to do anything to help Ukraine with all his expertise because the Rada has been continually blocked - by his father's Party of Regions.

They should change there name to the Party of Blockers, or the Party of Do-nothings.

In the meantime, it could be worse - Ukraine could have a Slick Willie ex-president running around hugging Kuchma.

Here's a long hairy article in Vanity Fair magazine about Slick Hilly Billy Klinton. Note the excerpt pasted in below. It's amazing how corruption and money find each other, and noone knows how to fight it or what to do about it.

But it is also beyond dispute that Clinton has blended the altruistic efforts of his philanthropy with the private business interests of some of his biggest donors in ways that are surpassingly sloppy, if not unseemly, for any former president. A case in point is Clinton’s relationship with Ukraine’s Victor Pinchuk, a billionaire and philanthropist who has donated millions to the ex-president’s foundation. According to Newsweek, in 2007, at a Pinchuk-sponsored international conference in Yalta, Clinton wowed the crowd with a presentation on Ukraine but also sparked controversy when he was embraced by Pinchuk’s father-in-law, the country’s former president Leonid Kuchma. Kuchma’s repressive regime has been linked by a government investigation to the 2000 murder of a dissident Ukrainian journalist. The man was found decapitated—one of scores of journalists who have been killed or have disappeared in Ukraine since the country achieved independence, in 1991.

Even more troubling is Clinton’s relationship with the Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra. This winter, a lengthy investigative report in The New York Times disclosed that, in 2005, Clinton flew to the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan on Giustra’s MD-87 jet for what was billed as a philanthropic three-country tour. The two men had dinner with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has held the country in a vise-like grip for nearly two decades. At their meeting, Clinton expressed support for Nazarbayev’s bid to head the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors elections and promotes democracy. That position was sharply at odds with official American foreign policy and came in the face of stinging criticism of Kazakhstan’s record on human rights from many sources, including the junior senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Within two days, Giustra’s company signed preliminary agreements allowing it to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency. And months after that the Clinton Foundation received a $31.3 million donation from Giustra that remained secret until a Giustra representative acknowledged it late last year. (Giustra has separately pledged another $100 million to the foundation.)

Taras said...

Yatsenyuk shouldn’t try to make a virtue out of Ukraine’s viral oligarchy.

We have few, if any, parties in Ukraine. What we have is a bunch of barefaced money-making machines, the Party of Rigeons being the biggest one.

Thank you for the Clinton article! Bill’s got to pay the bill for his “philanthropic” connections.

Here’s the article I read this morning.

Blair Sheridan said...

I read the Vanity Fair article and paid special attention to the excerpt that Elmer provided.

My only question is "What scores of Ukrainian journalists have been "killed or disappeared?" Is the author confusing Ukraine with Russia, or have I missed rather a lot of news?

Taras said...

Hi Blair! It’s good to see you again!

No, the author is definitely not confusing Ukraine with Russia. Ukraine Is Not Russia, as the title of one of Kuchma’s books says.

Btw, Kuchma yesterday presented another one: The Steps to Building a National Economy. After retiring a few years ago, the man has written book after book. (I even wonder if he reads them.)

Kuchma’s literary genius sharply contrasts with the fate of journalists who wrote about him and the state of affairs in the country he ruled.

Some of them didn’t live to digest his masterpieces.

The big names are Heorhiy Gongadze, Borys Derevyanko, and Ihor Aleksandrov. These people were murdered during the Kuchma era, Pinchuk being Kuchma’s son-in-law. You can find more names here.

There is no accounting for the beatings, threats of violence, and self-censorship that occurred during the Kuchma era, which saw Pinchuk’s fortunes rise — from millionaire to billionaire.

Yushchenko, who promised that his government would solve the Gongadze murder case, never lived up to his promise. No wonder his approval ratings match Kuchma’s

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, Blair, but unfortunately in Ukraine, non-journalists were also at peril, through threats and contract killings and "suicides."

Vyacheslav Chornovil was one such notable opposition figure - mysterious car accident, I believe.

Under Kuchma, the media had so-called "temnyky", or theme lists - things that were permitted in the media. The only things.

Ukrainain Pravda, an Internet-based newspaper founded by Gongadze and Oksana Prytula, suffered mysterious power outages, and many, many "tax inspections," and worse.

People used to take a copy of Ukrainian Pravda to a local cafe, and it would get very, very wrinkled as it was passed around, because everyone wanted to read it, since it was not adhering to the "theme lists."

I'm sorry I don't have the video link handy, Blair, but if you ever get a chance, you should look at the video of Gongadze asking questions of Kuchma on TV. Gongadze keeps asking "non-theme" questions.

Kuchma, who is not used to inconvenient questions, suddenly fixes this look on Gongadze, and asks him "what is your name"?

That was Gongadze's death sentence.

There were, of course, the Melnychenko tapes, where purportedly Kuchma is talking about stringing various people up, and cutting their gonads off, and other non-presidential things.

The sovoks created some very, very brutal people, Blair. It was very accurately said by Ronald Reagan that the sovok empire was an evil empire.

And the things that happened in Ukraine happened also in virtually all of the post-sovok republics and satellites.

The difference today is that Roosha continues to kill journalists.

In Ukraine, journalists are not so much in physical peril today.

But people like Akhmetov try to continue the repression. Akhmetov just used a US based law firm to get a $100,000 default judgment - in England - against Obozrevatel, because they wrote something about him that he did not like.

The tactic is commonly employed - burden the journalists with attorney fees and other costs and expenses so that they go out of business.

Akhmetov, of course, has been recently listed as being worth $31 billion dollars. He got himself on the Party of Regions party list, and got elected to the Ukrainain parliament, where he has TOTAL IMMUNITY from any and all crimes.

He also claims to be in his "third phase" of charity work.