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Friday, September 05, 2008

Cheney Visits Ukraine

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday arrived to Kyiv on a cheerleading tour that has already taken him to Georgia and Azerbaijan and will end in Italy.

A staunch supporter of NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, Cheney enjoyed a warm reception from like-minded Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. Security and energy dominated the meeting agenda.

Cheney also held talks with PM Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of BYuT, whose parliamentary coalition with Yushchenko’s NUNS appears to have collapsed after he accused her of pro-Russian conspiracy and she crossed coalition lines to pass legislation trimming his powers.

Undoubtedly, the outgoing Bush administration wants to send a welcome message to Kyiv.

But given the lame-duck status of both Cheney and Yushchenko, Ukraine’s accession into NATO hinges on the outcome of the presidential election in America no less than it does on Ukraine’s own presidential election in 2010.

Besides, the collapse of the ruling Orange coalition, unless reversed, will probably lead to snap parliamentary elections within weeks.

Video embedded from:


Anonymous said...

On September 5, 2008, Victor Yanukovych was in the studios of 5 Kanal (Channel 5) for an interview on the "Time" (Chas) program.

To me, this is absolutely STUNNING for 2 reasons.

First, it was the first time in 5 years that he showed up at that TV station, using the occasion to wish Channel 5 well on its 5th anniversary. The interviewer even asked him whether he still viewed Channel 5 as a pro-Orange outlet, to which he replied that he viewed it as a responsible, democratic medium.

Second, what he was saying is incredibly different, and, it seems to me, diametrically different from what he had been saying in prior years.

- he stated that the goal of each politician or government official should NOT be the fight for government posts, but improving life in Ukraine;

- underlying this, according to him, should be "one law for all"; he specifically mentioned the courts, for example, although he did not go so far as to suggest canceling carte blanche parliamentary immunity;

- he stated that government should depend on the people, and Ukraine's interests, and that government should answer to the interests of the people;

- he correctly pointed out that the political fights occuring since 2004 have been non-productive, rendering government ineffective, and that he himself had undergone this "test" of political bickering, and it rendered government, whether headed by Orange or PoR, ineffective;

- he did not have as a personal goal seeking any particular government office, but improving life for Ukrainians, and noted the overwhelming public distrust of government, which prevents building a fundamentally sound and strong country and government

- with respect to Georgia, he fell down a little bit, taking the pro-Russian line that "Georgia started it," but noting that perhaps Russia overstepped its bounds as peacekeeper, and that Ukraine should not get involved in a war in Georgia, and that Ukraine should live in peace (based on a neutral stance with regard to the conflict); they did not talk about Bohatyrova being expelled from the Party of Regions for supporting Georgia;

- he affirmed that, although the parties in parliament are discussing constitutional changes, the presidential-parliamentary system should remain, and the president's duties and powers should be more clearly specified, including the power to dissolve parliament.

- he also talked about unifying the country in order to respond to the needs of the people.

This sounds like a totally different Yanukovych.

I am truly amazed and shocked, and pleasantly surprised.

It is an interview worth watching. He chose his words very carefully.

Taras said...

I watched Yanukovych’s “charming” interview on Friday night. He came to congratulate Channel 5 on its 5th anniversary.

His sweet talk didn’t surprise me at all. He’s done that before, with the help of his American spin doctors, who peddled him as a born-again freedom-loving comeback kid.

Before letting him grace the airwaves, Channel 5 should have pumped him with a truth serum.

Anonymous said...

It's true that he chose his words very, very carefully, and spoke very, very haltingly and slowly in order to do so.

But one of the things that was remarkable to me was his frank recognition of the HUGE public mistrust of government. I don't think anyone has said that before in Ukraine - of the "political elite," I mean.

BYuT has talked about serving the people, and certainly Yushchenko has. I really don't recall PoR putting forth the idea that all government comes from the people. The did put forth their slogan "we're going to improve your life today" - which noone believed, of course.

There was also the recognition that political feuding and bickering has incapacitated government, no matter who was in the majority. Now, that may be just an excuse, and an admission, that if PoR kept on stealing, everyone kept on stealing, but, while he mentioned "stability," it was not, to me, the same old PoR sense of "stability" (totalitarian government).

It is absolutely painful to watch what is going on amongst the Ukrainian "political elite."

Yushchenko and his henchmen have gone off the deep end, although Yushchenko is absolutely right on Georgia and the EU.

Tymoshenko keeps firing back, and although she is somewhat more logical, pointing out, for example, that it was not BYuT who left the Orange Coalition, and that Yushchenko had previously sought a shyrka, well, she's also engaging in a good old Ukrainian "svarka" in which the issues get swept aside and one just keeps on shouting and screaming.

I say again - this is absolutely painful to watch. On top of all that has been stolen by the "political elite" through government, now we have a Jerry Springer crowd spitting at each other, cussing each other out, literally fighting in the parliament - it's one big shark frenzy by accomplished sharks.

Can't they all just focus?

Eliminate parliamentary immunity

Eliminate the "party list" system of elections.

Get together and figure out a division of powers, spelled out, and a system of checks and balances so that these food fight don't occur.

Switch to regional and local elections for oblast officials, instead of the Prez and Parliament fighting over who gets to appoint them.

Even Yanuk now admits that there is HUGE public mistrust of government. The current brawl does nothing to dispel that, and it hurts Ukraine's security.

They have institutionalized political insanity. If they can't handle it, get a different set of people in Parliament and in the President's office.

And hope it's not the rooshan military.

Taras said...

So what’s new? Come elections — and they may come pretty soon — Yanuk and other Ukrainian politicos will tell their voters any s**t they want to hear. It’s their job.

Plus, Yanuk may be interested in reclaiming some of the votes he lost last fall.

With the Orange pie in a nauseating mess, a snap parliamentary election will result in a low turnout of Orange voters.

Which is just what Yanuk needs.

Anonymous said...

Taras, I am truly bewildered.

The people of Ukraine know that the politicians are lying, and don't trust the government.

The "political elite" know that the people of Ukraine know, and now all parties have publicly acknowledged the HUGE public mistrust of government.

Yet, since 2004, Ukrainian politics has consisted of the same old "political elite" - like a kaleidescope, the patterns may change slightly, but it's the same old players and they continue their chess games, and they continue to rob the country blind.

How do the people of Ukraine bust the kaleidescope? How do they get outside the box?

I can tell you one way NOT to do it - sell your votes, your souls, your future to Kosmonaut Chernovetsky, the "mayor or Ukraine."

So how does one break this cycle of insanity, Taras?

How do the people of Ukraine escape this 8th circle of hell?

Taras said...

That’s a tough one, Elmer! To answer that question, I think we need to team up with Vitaliy of The 8th Circle.

Anonymous said...

To borrow a phrase from lenin, what is to be done has already been laid out by Yushchenko and others, for example, among a large list:

- separate business and government

- eliminate political immunity

Each "political force" has NOT taken a run at what needs to be done. They are much too super-glued into the government trough.

So it's not a matter of what, it's a matter of how.

There are certain politicians that seem to be somewhat trustworthy and honorable: Yatseniuk, Lutsenko, Tarasiuk, and others come to mine.

So, for starters, here's a suggestion ---- in whatever election occurs next, why not put forth NON-OLIGARCHS?

Aren't there any people in Ukraine who can and are willing to step forward to do it right, to put the government right?

Every one of the "major political forces" is composed of, and joined at the hip, with oligarchs. And that's precisely the reason why the atrocity that is called Ukrainian government continues, complete with personal food fights back and forth, especially between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.

We already have the recipe.

It's just a matter of finding non-oligarchs who are willing to implement it.

Taras said...

Easier said than done.

“Separating business from government,” “lifting parliamentary immunity,” “one law for all”…

Once a staple of stump speeches by Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, all these promises have turned into jokes. Ditto Yanukovych’s “better living today” and “stability and prosperity.”

I don’t know about Tarasyuk, but Yatsenyuk and Lutsenko seem to have powerful connections. Yatsenyuk reportedly “owes one” to Pinchuk while Lutsenko allegedly “knows” Babakov, vice speaker of the Russian State Duma.

When you look at this tightly-knit world of old boy networks and interlocking directorates, your quest for heroes often ends before it begins.

Anonymous said...

Taras, I don't think it's a matter of looking for heroes. It's a matter of looking for people who will get the job done, uncowed by and not bowing to oligarchs.

It's very clear that the oligarchs themselves won't do it. And Yushchenko's hope of an outside force (EU and NATO) to make them do it is simply not going to happen.

Yushchenko is absolutely right on every point:

- corruption is killing the country

- Ukraine needs to support Georgia

- there needs to be separation of business from government

- eliminate parliamentary immunity

- eliminate the party list system

- reform the campaign laws, put limits on contributions

and so forth.

As I said before, Yushchenko could have done all this before, because he had something that almost never happens in a democracy - he had a majority of the people in the palm of his hands, and the people were looking to him for results.

I believe they would have done anything for him if he had just stuck to the program.

It's very clear, Taras, very, very clear, that noone trust ANY of the "political forces." And with Yanukovych's open admission, the "political forces" know it too.

Now even Yulia is falling down on Georgia and the Black Sea Fleet - for the sake of what?

Looking for heroes? President Truman owned a small store before he got into politics. Abraham Lincoln was a country lawyer. Barack Obama was a community organizer. They weren't "oligarchs." You can look to other countries for examples of non-oligarchs stepping forward.

If I were running a campaign, the candidates I would seek would be non-oligarchs who have no ties, and are not beholden to oligarchs.

And it's easy enough to get the them of such a campaign: NONE of the "political elite" have kept there promises. And even they know that the people don't trust them. It's time to get them out of there. It's time for some real action, and real results.

Yes, Yushchenko ran his campaign on "belief." It is an abomination that he blew it all, by failing to do what he was elected to do.

So are there any such people in Ukraine, Taras, who can step forward?

Or are people in Ukraine going to simply continue to sell their votes, of even worse, stay away and bury their heads in the sand.

Smart men learn from their own mistakes.

Wise men learn from the mistakes of others.

And fools never learn.

Which ones are Ukrainians, Taras?

Taras said...

Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

That's not an answer, in my opinion, Taras.

To be brutally blunt and honest - Ukraine is a sewer.

Yushchenko says corruption is killing the country - and then does nothing about it.

Chernovetsky openly states that he will ignore the ruling of a court to compensate Elita fraud victims.

It's a sewer. With a "political elite" that looks more like piles of scum to me than people.

As Obama recently said, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.

The "political elite" tries to put lipstick on itself - but they're still scum and mafia thugs, in suits.

It is one big mafia protection racket. And the people who are supposed to be protecting you are the mafia, demanding protection money at every turn.

Even enlisting members of kickboxing clubs to beat people up.

As long as Ukrainians simply sit back, nothing will change.

Here's what I'm talking about. But it's not limited to foreign investors.

Last one to leave Ukraine, turn out the lights.

Taras said...

What did you expect? An acceptance speech?

I’m not running for president anytime soon. Nor am I leaving Ukraine. As of today, I have no such plans. I have my modest set of multitasks, and I’m not sitting idle.

The article on foreign investors’ hurdles speaks volumes about Ukraine’s economic freedom. Here’s my suggestion: Make your employees into allies, not mules.

Because if you don’t — if you pay hefty bribes but crappy wages — then who cares about your business?

Many foreign investors exploit the labor cost differential at the expense of failing to build employee commitment. In a country with weak institutions, this commitment could make a difference, allying investors and employees against government corruption.

So if by saying “Ukraine is a sewer” you meant political Ukraine and its lack of grassroots support, then I agree.

Anonymous said...

Here's a guy who got it exactly right.

The frontman for the group "Okean Elzy" is resigning from the Ukrainian Parliament, asserting that it failed in its mission to create a modern European government, instead sowing public distrust. He confirmed that political/governmental life consists only of struggling for power, at the sacrifice of the national interests of Ukraine.

Bravecat said...

Many foreign investors exploit the labor cost differential at the expense of failing to build employee commitment. In a country with weak institutions, this commitment could make a difference, allying investors and employees against government corruption.

Whoah, that goes for UAE too. And that is what I have to deal with, day after day after day.

Taras said...

I’ve read about that, Brave Cat! The UAE employs more than 2 million migrant Asian workers who earn slave wages and live in Dickensian conditions.

Elmer, Vakarchuk made a very rare move. I’m sure he won’t have any followers.