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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yanukovych Struggles With Words, Events

The wages of being President Yanukovych come in all sorts of gaffes and glitches.

President Yanukovych: I do understand that today we’re falling behind on [Euro 2012] preparations, and today we should take extraordinal...[pauses for a spell check]...measures...[adds emphasis to blunt his awkward pause] kick-start...[nods]...this construction of these stadiums, roads and infrastructure.

Acts of sabotage followed President Yanukovych to an SBU gala event. No sooner had he started singing Ukraine’s anthem than the recording malfunctioned (“Ще не вме...”).

A few minutes later, he ended up awarding the wrong guy.

“Normalnaya vlast” (Rus. normal government), as one SBU officer put it, obviously means Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, the Ken-faced billionaire who now runs the SBU.
Among other things, Khoroshkovsky owns 3.5 Disneylands worth of land, 32,171 sq m worth of real estate and millions worth of Ukraine’s #1 TV channel. (He got his first job at the SBU as a RosUkrEnergo-friendly deputy director appointed by Yushchenko.)

Witness Tina Karol perform at a Yanukovych gala. Yes, that's the same Tina who toured Ukraine with a bunch of other
celebs who endorsed Tymoshenko.


Russian singer Valery Meladze’s did “Вопреки,” a soundtrack song from Адмиралъ, a Russian biopic on Aleksandr Kolchak. (In the Russian Civil War, both the Whites and the Reds fought against Ukraine’s independence.)

Director Khoroshkovsky did not respond to questions about the cost of the event. Asked about who pays, an unnamed SBU officer said the SBU does, but he wasn’t sure.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Walid Harfouch Dismisses Bio Questions as ‘Racist’

According to Wikipedia, Walid and his brother, Omar, were born in Tripoli, Lebanon (not to be confused with Tripoli, Libya).

A successful, well-connected and controversial entrepreneur, Walid became a citizen of Ukraine in 2005. He speaks fluent Russian but not Ukrainian.

In late 2004, he led Robert Ménard of Reporters Without Borders on a Ukrainian tour meant to legitimize freedom of the press à la Yanukovych. (A few months earlier, an article in Libration had linked Ménard to Omar Harfouch and Muammar al-Gaddafi.)

After the Orange Revolution, Walid chased Yushchenko’s son-about-town in his Paparazzi magazine and suffered a burned Bentley. In the last presidential campaign, he coached Hanna Herman, Yanukovych’s right-hand woman.

For this longstanding service, they appointed him vice chairman of the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTCU). Just imagine a vice president of France Télévisions or RFI who doesn't speak French.

Asked about his vision for the company considering his “непроста біографія” (“tricky/checkered biography”), he dismissed the whole question as “racist.”

Attempts to reason with Walid failed. He called host Roman Skrypin “racist” and refused to answer the question. Roman called it a day.

Why overreact to a legitimate question aimed at filling in the gaps?

Should a public employee use his membership in an anti-racist organization as a defense against bona fide inquiries into his qualifications?

Speaking of qualifications, NTCU (read: taxpayer) has already been fined for missing the deadline on submitting Ukraine’s Eurovision entry, marred by a plagiarism scandal.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Yanukovych Greets Women

If you’re looking for a crash course in comparing Mother’s Day to International Women’s Day, look here.

In the West, it’s about people honoring their mothers and discussing women’s rights.

In Ukraine, it’s a about flowers, champagne, sexism and sweet nothings. Welcome to the traditional gender stereotypefest 2010! Let the Macho-in-Chief speak.

President Yanukovych: Dear women, our lovely, responsive, cherished, and always wonderful ones! It’s the holiday of spring again and we greet the better half of Ukraine: our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters, the keepers of our household fireplace. We love you. We’re enchanted by you, dear women! We honor you for your patience, wisdom, faithfulness, and for the love in your hearts. There’s nothing holier in this world than a woman who gave life to children and taught them their first steps. It is by no accident that treatment of women, they say, defines a society’s level of culture. We are all indebted to you, dear women. The state owes you, but we will rectify the situation. May you have love, wisdom, health, joy and may all your dreams come true. Be happy, dear women! Greetings to you!

Naturally, his lineup of gender roles for women didn’t include rivals, such as this sotto voce lady.

Ukraine’s new cabinet holds the record for being the continent’s only “no women” cabinet.

PM Azarov’s “It’s not women’s business to pass reforms in Ukraine” quote has irked Viola von Cramon-Taubadel of the Bundestag Greens. Naturally, Azarov claims being misquoted.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tihipko Says West OK’d His Questionable Coalition

Money talks.

Vice PM Serhiy Tihipko: First off, you saw my position when...uh...they started talking about creating a majority in Parliament on a person-by-person basis. I expressed it very clearly, I expressed it very harshly. I was one of a few to hit the media circuit and...uh...more than that, I can say today that I organized resistance to this decision. I met with ambassadors. I met with Western politicians and so on. I met with Yanukovych twice on this issue. I met with his entourage, his inner circle, who could have influenced him, but...uh...all the time I heard one and, practically, the same — same from everyone — point: Today, you stand on the verge of a colossal crisis. We should I put it...uhhh...basically, are tired of Ukraine. need, today, to achieve results. And as for you saying that these actions are uncon...un...unconstitutional, it’s up to the Constitutional Court to decide. I tapped the Constitutional Court. I can say that today I have plenty of...uh...these...uh...well, I can say, plenty of chances that the Constitutional Court will support this decision. I don’t want to decide for them — they will support it. And I had to deal with this question: What should I do? Should I go make Opposition Government 4 (or 3, or 4), spend two and a half years in the opposition or should I try to influence the situation, having the support of 13% of the people and really knowing what to do. I know what to do and I can organize this work just fine. Uh...I’ll have a shot at joining the opposition. But get the job done is what I'll try to do.

Yeah, why waste time in the opposition if the government offers a higher ROI?

Obviously, on some insider basis, the Constitutional Court offers previews of its verdicts to soldiers of fortune like you, right?

Can you name the Western governments that blessed this Ostern (starring you and Yanukovych v. our Constitution)?

I want to send them my Ordre national de la Légion du déshonneur.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Herman Prescribes Mopeds for Gov’t (‘Ugh,’ Not for Hers)

Talk is cheap.

Deputy Chief of Staff Hanna Herman: And the government in Ukraine — in a poor country like this — has to use mopeds. And that will be right.
Host: And what will Azarov use?

Herman: Ughhhhh...iiiiit's...I think that the premierrrrr caaaaan walk on foot if he lives nearby. He can use a bike, for example. I once was witness to the defense minister of Poland, uh, coming to work on a bicycle, uh, and, you know, he had this peg on...on his pants so he wouldn’t touch the chain. I think the government in a poor country, uh, has to behave modestly, aaaaand I think that we all understand this and we all will be thinking about it, thinking at least.

Let’s think about it.




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Friday, March 19, 2010

Anti-Tabachnyk (Tobaccoman) Campaign Kicks Off

Q: A Ukrainophobe runs the ministry of education of what country?
A: Ukraine.

Q: One minister calls another “cheap clown” and “embezzler” in what country?

A: Ukraine.

A lot of Ukrainians want to smoke Dmytro Tabachnyk out of a job. In Ukrainian, tabachnyk means tobacco man.

In 1994-1997, he served as Kuchma's chief of staff. After joining the Party of Regions, he made his mark as a pro-Kremlin publicist who bashed all things Ukrainian and clashed with the Akhmetov-Kolesnikov group. MP Borys Kolesnikov (now Vice PM) once called him “cheap clown” and “embezzler.”

On Wednesday, the АнтиТабачна кампанія (AntyTabachna kampaniya) kicked off in Kyiv and Lviv.

The rally in Lviv gathered a few thousand people, some of whom collected Soviet history books and works of Marxism-Leninism for burning, as initially reported. According to later reports, the books will be pulped, not burned. (We should leave the burning business to those Crimean Russians who burn Ukrainian history textbooks and IDs while chanting “Fascism shall not pass!”)

The rally in Kyiv gathered a few hundred Tabachynyk opponents and a few dozen supporters outside the Ministry of Education. It opened with a brawl but proceeded peacefully after police intervened.

P.S. Tabachnyk has promised to keep views to himself and to go by the Constitution.

If he wants to go by the Constitution, he better hurry because his boss is beating him to it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yanukovych Loyalist Defends Law of Jungle

Reform #1: The Sun (law) revolves around the Earth (Yanukovych).

In 2008, the Constitutional Court ruled that coalitions can only be formed by parliamentary factions, not by party-shopping MPs. In 2010, Yanukovych ruled the opposite way around.

His henchmen amended rules of order in breach of the Constitution and his oath of office.

MP Serhiy Holovaty (PRU), a former justice minister, ranks among veteran party-shoppers and is currently serving his sixth parliamentary term.

Elected to his first term in March 1990, he left the CPSU and won his second term as an independent in March 1994. He then party-shopped his way from Vpered Ukrayina in 1998 to BYuT in 2002 to NUNS in 2006 to the Party of Regions in 2007.

Without further ado, let him explain the legal situation.

MP Serhiy Holovaty: When starting to research the subject of the rule of law, I posed this question: Could one presume that the Constitution, too, has to be subject to the principles of the rule of law? And having conducted this research based on...uh...sources from Western doctrines of law, based on sources from Western enforcement of law and judicial practice and the European Court, including the Human Rights one, I cert...came to the conclusion, and made a case in my study, that the Constitution itself is no apotheosis. [makes gestures] It is subject to the principle of the rule of law.

And the rule of law answers to the rule of the jungle, right?

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Tihipko Vows to ‘Never. Never.’ Join Gov’t (Mar. 4)

Read his lips.

Vitaliy Portnikov, host: Will you join the government?
Serhiy Tihipko, now Vice PM: depends on what agenda and what government there will be.

Portnikov: Well, as you can see, changes to legislation are being prepared that will allow not just factions to form a coalition, but ones [changes] that will allow individual MPs to join such a coalition, and then there will be absolutely positively a majority...

Tihipko: It wi...
Portnikov: the Verkhovna Rada.

Tihipko: In my opinion, it will be a colossal mistake of both Yanukovych (if he signs such a bill into law) and of the majority, and of the Party of Regions (if they opt for this) because it’s a direct violation of the Constitution that clearly says that the majority is formed by factions, period. honest person will support such a government. It means that...uh...again no real changes will be made possible.

Portnikov: So this...this government that will be formed by this coalition is one you’ll definitely not join?
Tihipko: Never. Never.

“Never say never,” as the saying goes.

If you’re one of those 13% who fell for this veteran Kuchmista and his $11M reform rhetoric, here’s your reform song:

Fella, fella, eh, eh, eh
Under Yanuk’s umbrella
Fella, fella, eh, eh, eh
Under Yanuk’s umbrella

I hope his boss treats him right.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coalition of Carcasses: List of Cabinet Members/Advisers

He did it! 14 words and only 1 word misspelled!

First Vice Premier: Andriy Klyuyev

Vice Premier, humanitarian affairs: Volodymyr Semynozhenko
Vice Premier, Euro 2010: Borys Kolesnikov
Vice Premier, law enforcement: Volodymr Sivkovych
Vice Premier, agriculture: Viktor Slauta
Vice Premier, economy (?): Serhiy Tihipko
Vice Premier, regional affairs: Viktor Tykhonov

Minister of Environment: Viktor Boiko
Minister of Fuel and Energy: Yuriy Boiko
Minister of Transport: Kostyantyn Yefymenko
Minister of Industrial Policy: Dmytro Kolesnikov
Minister of Health Care: Zinoviy Mytnyk
Minister of Internal Affairs: Anatoliy Mohyliov
Minister of Labor and Social Policy: Vasyl Nadraha
Minister of Housing and Utilities: Oleksandr Popov
Minister of Agricultural Policy: Mykola Prysyazhnyuk
Minister of Youth and Family Affairs: Ravil Safulin
Minister of Education and Science: Dmytro Tabachnyk
Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers: Anatoliy Tolstoukhov
Minister of Economy: Vasyl Tsushko
Minister of Finance: Fedir Yaroshenko
Minister of Regional Development: Yuriy Yashchenko
Minister of Emergency Management: Nestor Shufrych
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Kostantyn Hryshchenko
Minister of Defense: Mykhailo Yezhel
SBU Director: Valeriy Khoroshkovsky

Oleksandr Kuzmuk
Serhiy Tulub
Mykhailo Papiyev
Anatoliy Kinakh
Mykhailo Chechetov
Yaroslav Sukhy
Vasyl Khara
Leonid Kozhara
_____ Dem... [unintelligible]
Mykola Dzhyha
Kateryna Samoylyk


Coalition of Carcasses Confirms Azarov as PM

The Coalition of Stabilnist and Reform (aka the Coalition of Carcasses) Thursday confirmed Mykola Azarov, a Party of Regions stalwart, as PM.

The Coalition totals 235 MPs and owes its unofficial name to recently amended rules of order that base coalitions on MPs, not factions.

Coalition breakdown:

Party of Regions
Communist Party
Lytvyn Bloc

BYuT: Vitaliy Barvinenko, Volodymyr Kapliyenko, Hennadiy Zadyrko, Hryhoriy Omelchenko, Yuriy Poluneyev, Ihor savchenko, Oleh Cherpitsky

NUNS: Yuriy But, Stanislav Dovhy, Oleksandr Omelchenko, Ihor Palytsya, Ivan Plyushch, Volodymyr Polyachenko

Non-aligned (renegades/castaways): Taras Chornovil, Inna Bohoslovska, Ihor Rybakov, Vasyl Kiselyov

Azarov gathered 242 votes, including 8 from BYuT and 11 from NUNS.

BYuT: Vitaliy Barvinenko, Andriy Verevsky, Volodymyr Kapliyenko, Hennadiy Zadyrko, Hryhoriy Omelchenko, Yuriy Polyneyev, Ihor Savchenko, Oleh Chepitsky

NUNS: Yuriy But, Stanislav Dovhy, Davyd Zhvaniya, Ivan Plyushch, Volodymyr Polyachenko, Viktor Shemchuk, Serhiy Vasylenko, Oleksandr Klymenko, Oleksandr Omelchenko, Ihor Palytsya, Oleksandr Slobodyan

Non-aligned (renegades/castaways): Taras Chornovil, Inna Bohoslovska, Ihor Rybakov, Vasyl Kiselyov

Not only does this creative arrangement violate a 2008 ruling by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, but it also violates President Yanukovych’s oath of office.

Back-to-opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has promised to take her case to the Constitutional Court.

As of 12:33 Kyiv time, Cabinet members are being confirmed.


Forbes Lists 5 Billionaires from Ukraine, Up from 4 in ‘09

As Ukraine is getting poorer (economy: -15%, hryvnia: -60%), the oligarchs are getting richer.

In 2010, The World’s Billionaires features five slots from Ukraine:

148. Rinat Akhmetov: $5.2
307. Viktor Pinchuk: $3.1B
488. Ihor Kolomoysky: $2.0B
582. Hennadiy Boholyubov: $1.7B
828. Kostyantyn Zhevago: $1.2B

MP Akhmetov regains his leading position, lost to Pinchuk last year. MP Zhevago (a businessman, not an oligarch, as Tymoshenko would argue) reenters the ranking.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Medvedev, Yanukovych Pissed in Translation

Misspell one letter and you have signing that sound like peeing.

It happened at the Medvedev-Yanukovych press conference, dubbed in Russian and Ukrainian. Instead of saying підписують (pidpysuyut: Ukr. are signing), the announcer uttered підпісують (pidpisuyut: broken Ukr. are peeing on something).

Russian version: The President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, from the Russian side, and the President of Ukraine, Viktor Fiodorovich Yanukovich, from the Ukrainian side, are signing a joint statement.

Ukrainian version: The President of the Russian Federation, Dmytro Anatoliyovych Medvedev, from the Russian side, and the President of Ukraine, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych, from the Ukrainian side, are peeing on a joint statement.

It remains the norm for the media and governments of the two countries to translate rather than transliterate Ukrainian (Ukraine-based) and Russian (Russia-based) names. Thus, Dmitry (Rus) translates into Dmytro (Ukr) and Volodymyr (Ukr) into Vladimir (Rus).

The spelling czars in the Western media often rely on Russian-to-English transliterations of Ukrainian (Ukraine-based) personal and geographic names:

Yanukovich instead of Yanukovych
Gritsenko instead of Hrytsenko
Tyagnibok instead of Tyahnybok
Kiev instead of Kyiv

Spelling idiosyncrasies abound in political Ukraine as well.

Tymoshenko, who learned Ukrainian in her ‘30s, finds it hard to spell the и in Янукович and Литвин: it’s always Yanukoveech and Leetveen to her.

Yushchenko speaks a little bit of surzhyk here and there, punctuated with his trademark colloquial verb endings and arrogant second person informal pronouns.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Yanukovych plays down his March 1 visit to Brussels:

I was invited to [visit] Brussels on March 1 and I was invited to visit Russia on March 5. It couldn't have been done otherwise. The first days of the president's work are always difficult in terms of where to go, and I'm gaining experience. But as they used to say, All pathways lead to Moscow.

“You better send us salo,” Putin retorts, replying to Yanukovych’s suggestion that Ukraine send some cranky politicos to Russia as examples of instability.

The good news: In his attempt to renegotiate the whorrible Tymoshenko-Putin gas agreement, Yanukovych hasn’t sold out the pipeline yet.

The brotherly news: Yanukovych promised to make Russian a regional language in exchange for “one or two” Ukrainian-language channels being allowed to air in Russia.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Yanukovych to Fight ‘Changes in the Life of Our Country’

From the owner of Mezhyhirya and other taxpayer-paid luxury property...

President Yanukovych: I have just signed a decree aimed at fighting poverty. I had promised people that I would do everything to establish justice in this very difficult time for the country and to raise wages and pensions. Today, I did it. It was this decree I signed first. The second decree that I signed today initiates the process of immediate structural economic reform in the country, one that will make it possible to create a strong economy in Ukraine. Thus, we will create new jobs, provide people with decent pay and decent work. The third decree I signed is a decree on forming a system of eradicating corruption in Ukraine. Thus, we have made the first three steps toward the core restructuring of the entire government mechanism that will serve man. I want to emphasize that every day of my high office, which the Ukrainian people have entrusted me with, will be committed to fighting poverty and changes in the life of our country. We set these goals for ourselves. And we will achieve them.

I can’t help but trust you on that one, Mr. President!

Your speechwriters deserve a raise for a great sense of honesty and humor!

I’m sure Reagan would agree.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How Tymoshenko Got Fired

Ukrayinska Pravda recaps Tymoshenko’s ouster, with video from the Rada Channel.

Would-be PM Azarov rips outgoing PM Tymoshenko

PM Tymoshenko strikes back

Speaker Lytvyn puts her to a vote
PRU, 172
BYuT, 7
NUNS, 15
CPU, 27
LyB, 19


Tymoshenko Praises Herself Before Rada Fires Her

When your economy contracts 15% in one year, who do you praise? Tymoshenko praises herself. She did her best.

She stuck to her oligarchs, laughed at Putin’s jokes and paved the way for a Yanukovych win. She borrowed, lied and lost. And she’s not sorry.

PM Tymoshenko: And I can tell you that if today a vote is passed to fire the government, our government will vacate its offices right that moment. Right that moment our political force will go into opposition and, in the opposition, will be clearly forming a united democratic team, will be doing everything so that such actions — which I have just talked about and cited examples of — so that they will be impossible in our state. I now want every person that hears me to know that we will protect Ukraine from this new misfortune that has arrived — we will protect it for sure. And if Yanukovych thinks that a week from now he’ll be safely playing gold and tennis and his entourage will be bagging the state’s strategic property on the quiet, then I can say that today his golf and tennis are coming to an end, and every day he will be reporting to the country, to the opposition. Every day, we will keep our hand on the pulse.


Because our team has lived by, lives by and will live by only one value: Ukraine above all.


In other words:

She’s good — he’s evil;
She’s pro-Ukrainian — he’s anti-Ukrainian;
She mothers entrepreneurs — he fathers oligarchs;
She’s clean — he’s corrupt.

Joan of Arc meets the Virgin Mary.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Yanukovych Toasts His Glassless Guests

Event planning offers infinite opportunities for discovery: from bad doors to solo toasts.

Here’s to the government of proFFessionals!

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