28.03.11. Ex-President of Ukraine Is Implicated in 2000 Killing

21.03.11. Sevastopol: Russian fleet stirs passions in Ukraine

21.03.11. US pro-democracy groups to sound alarm about election law

04.03.11. Creating a system with one decision-making point

04.03.11. The Economist: Viktor Yanukovich turns eastward

25.02.11. De seneste privatiseringer i Ukraine (eng.)

25.02.11. Ukraine being downgraded from “free” to “partly free”

05.02.11. Hryshchenko: Europas fremtid afgøres i Ukraine

01.02.11. Parlamentsvalget udsat til 2012

31.01.11. Opinion on the constitutional situation in Ukraine

31.01.11. Former Interior Minister: I am a political prisoner

31.01.11. Let’s not betray our age-old hopes

06.01.11. The underbelly of Ukrainian gas Dealings

06.01.11. Gas deal disputed in Ukraine

22.12.10. Ukraine to open Chernobyl nuclear plant to tourists

17.12.10. Ukrainske gæstearbejdere sender årligt 5-8 mia. dollars hjem

07.12.10. 4,89 million total losses concludes Holodomor demography research team

07.12.10. Documenting a tragedy

07.12.10. Ukraine leader pushes triangular partnership

07.12.10. Ukraine to chair the OSCE in 2013

07.12.10. Russia and Ukraine settle dispute over gas

07.12.10. Ukraine police break up tax protest camp

23.11.10. New book: Secret documents on OUN-UPA and Ukrainian armed resistance

23.11.10. Covetous Putin calls the sovereign nation 'Little Russia'

23.11.10. Janukovytj afviser energiindrømmelser til Rusland (eng.)

13.11.10. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s support for two Ukrainian NGOs

13.11.10. Ukrainian FEMENists against Putin

13.11.10. Ukrainian Populist Movement in the late 19th and early 20th century

07.11.10. Det nye styre og Holodomor (eng.)

07.11.10. Joint statement by Ukraine’s opposition on elections

01.11.10. Survey shows every fifth Ukrainian ready to sell vote

26.10.10. Constitutionalism and the rule of law in Ukraine

26.10.10. Ukraine’s foreign and security policy and Russia

11.10.10. The Kharkiv accords and Russia's sphere of influence

11.10.10. Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?

11.10.10. Ukrainian Education Minister Tabachnyk and nationalism

11.10.10. The American Ukrainian diaspora and the new rule

30.09.10. Ukrainske oligarker og det nye styre (eng.)

25.09.10. Ukraine to host UN-backed forum marking Chernobyl anniversary

23.09.10. Strasbourg-dom til fordel for ukrainsk avis

13.09.10. The IV Kyiv Security Forum

13.09.10. TVi and 5 Kanal stripped of their licences

13.09.10. Splittet ukrainsk opposition (eng.)

13.09.10. Splittet ukrainsk opposition (eng.)

September 7, 2010

Zenon Zawada
Kyiv Bureau Editor
The Ukrainian Weekly

The latest opposition protest at the Verkhovna Rada, on September 7, resembled a three-ring circus that revealed the increasing radicalization and tension in Ukrainian politics, which appears to be poised for a nasty eruption as predicted by numerous observers.

About 10,000 demonstrators (I estimate about 2,500 pro-government and 7,500 opposition) arrived from throughout Ukraine, despite extensive efforts by the police to prevent the arrival of demonstrators. Any bus companies found to be transporting opposition protestors automatically have their transportation license confiscated. All the dozen or so protestors I spoke with today either arrived by train or their own cars. They all said bus companies declined to transport them.

Only three parties were represented at the protest: Batkivschyna (led by Yulia Tymoshenko), the Svoboda nationalists (led by Oleh Tiahnybok) and the People’s Rukh of Ukraine (Narodnyi Rukh) led by Borys Tarasyuk. Viktor Yushchenko has vanished from the Ukrainian political scene and Our Ukraine is extinct, as well as the orange color, which Ukrainians now associate with the Donetsk Shakhtar soccer team more than anything else.

Previous protests were marred by Svoboda nationalists shouting down more moderate voices, who yelled “Tiah-ny-bok!” even as prominent leaders such as Tymoshenko spoke. It was no different this time around. The protest meeting was marred by hundreds of radicalized Svoboda youths in their 20s attempting to shout down most other speakers, including Borys Tarasyuk and former police chief Yurii Lutsenko.

Lutsenko is not a popular figure in Ukrainian politics, having been among those who most betrayed the Orange ideals. Yet the fact he was shouted down demonstrates the aggressiveness of Svoboda supporters, who didn’t seem to be interested in joining the unification of opposition forces, but causing enmity.

When demonstrators attempted to take away their megaphones, in order to stop them from shouting down other speakers, the Svoboda boys shoved and even punched back, continuing to repeat over and over, “Tiah-ny-bok!” Soon enough, their zombie-like fanaticism for Tiahnybok led other demonstrators to accuse them of either being at the protest for money, as paid provocateurs, or intentionally causing division among the opposition forces at the behest of the Party of Regions.

Indeed many Ukrainian patriots suspect that the Svoboda party engages in ethnically and politically motivated provocations and aggressive behavior in order to benefit the Party of Regions. Today’s behavior of the young male supporters, many in their 20s, only contributed to that view.

After the rally, Tiahnybok insisted to those gathered around him (including me) that he didn’t spur his supporters into shouting his name or disrupting the rally. He said they were upset because the demonstration’s organizers, the Committee to Defend Ukraine, denied him an opportunity to speak. However another party leader, Iryna Farion, was allowed to address the crowd, so the behavior of the Svoboda crowd seemed unreasonable.

Additionally, the Svoboda nationalists appeared as if they came to the rally prepared to attack Tymoshenko (and anyone besides their own leaders, for that matter), having arrived with printed placards with slogans that taunted her, such as “Who made (natural) gas serfs out of Ukrainians?”

In her speech, Tymoshenko hammered on the government’s unpopular decisions to increase natural gas prices, increase utility bills by 30 percent, increase the pension age, and increase the Kyiv subway fare (from 22 cents to 25 cents). She also referred to the government as Ukrainophobes, citing its Russification policies.

Farion is among the most radical politicians in Ukraine, so it can as no surprise that she called for “Ukraine for Ukrainians” and ridding the nation of the “animals in government.” She used very loaded language, calling upon the protesters “to shoot them up with their voting ballots” at the October 31 elections and speaking of a “final catharsis” that will soon arrive.

Similar language was used by the Committee to Defend Ukraine chairman Dmytro Pavlychko, who said openly that Ukraine “is headed for an explosion.” That does seem to be the direction of events as such protests draw more supporters. And the Yanukovych administration does seem to be provoking the opposition into a violent confrontation, with its radically pro-Russian cultural policies that denigrate the dignity of ethnically conscious Ukrainians.

It’s apparent the government is even laying the groundwork for such a violent confrontation, which it can use as a pretext to impose a full-scale authoritarianism as evidenced in Belarus and even some form of martial law. If the opposition enters into an “explosion,” as Mr. Pavlychko suggested, then it better plan the right strategy to ensure that it emerges as the winner, not the defeated.

The techniques used by the government to deal with the opposition are getting fiercer. While earlier allowing protestors to line up along Hrushevskoho Street on the side opposite of the parliament building, this time they weren’t allowed to walk along the street at all. Once again, the government surrounded the parliament building with thousands of Party of Regions supporters, who were comfortably shielded by metal barricades and hundreds of police. Their fanaticism and bizarre behavior is accelerating as fast as the radicalization of the opposition, which was forced to hold its meeting at the Mariyinskiy Palace, adjacent to the parliament building.

It came as no surprise to see more than a thousand Russian Orthodox radicals marching in columns around the parliament building, holding icons and wooden crosses and singing Church Slavonic hymns. This has been a common sight at the barricades that have surrounded the parliament at protests since Yanukovych came to power.

I should note that never was religion integrated into political activity to such an extent as the Yanukovych administration is currently exploiting it. The Orange forces never invoked religion during their reign in the government or their role in the opposition. This leads to the conclusion that the Party of Regions is truly fearful of the opposition and has resorted to extreme measures to extend their grip on power, such as manipulating the Orthodox devoted into defending their authoritarian rule.

It shocked me to see hundreds of Party of Regions supporters participating in a Divine Liturgy ceremony led by Orthodox priests within their barricaded fortress, directly in front of the parliament building just as the opposition was meeting. I had never seen such a direct infusion of religion in politics, which has very dangerous potential because it introduces a new irrational element to the conflict. Politics is supposed to offer rational, compromised solutions to disputes. Religion is irrational and therefore can lead people to do highly irrational things.

The scene inside the parliament was just as bizarre as abut a dozen deputies of the Tymoshenko Bloc led a blockade of the podium. Yet the pro-Russian coalition was voting on and approving legislation during this “blockade,” rendering it wholly ineffective and largely a ploy for television cameras.

The most hopeful sign is that the opposition forces are swelling and gaining support among the population. Today’s anti-government protest was the largest since the Yanukovych administration took power.

Yet it was very disheartening to see the opposition forces so divided. (What else is new?) It seems as though Ukrainians are incapable of uniting, no matter how compelling the conditions might be. While I once reserved sympathy and admiration for the Svoboda nationalists and their fierce devotion to the Ukrainian cause, I lost much sympathy and respect for them after today’s protest. They demonstrated such unconstructive narrow-mindedness and hostility towards the other opposition parties that I’m starting to believe they’re more of a hindrance than a benefit to the Ukrainian cause. Their radical positions on many issues aren’t capable of unifying the country, and play into the hands of the Party of Regions in reinforcing the Soviet stereotype of western Ukrainians as “fascist,” hostile, intolerant and dangerous.

The consensus is that Yanukovych and the Party of Regions are seeking the same authority in Ukraine that Putin enjoys in Russia and Lukashenko in Belarus. They will tighten the screws of their authoritarian rule following the October 31 elections, which will no doubt be falsified and rigged in many cities. The amended election law approved on August 30 only enhances the government’s ability to falsify the vote, as detailed in The Ukrainian Weekly last week.

The latest episode in the Yanukovych nightmare is the September 7 announcement by Yevhen Bystrytskyi, the executive director of the Renaissance Foundation in Ukraine, that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is reviewing its work in Kyiv. While George Soros is no angel and no one to be admired, the Renaissance Foundation offers much support to many of Ukraine’s democracy-building institutions. As we recall, Vladimir Putin supported legislation in the Russian Duma in 2006 limiting the ability of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in Russia. No doubt, Yanukovych would also like to restrict the presence western NGOs which offer financial support to organizations committed to democracy-building and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. The Renaissance projects targeted by the SBU so far are not political, yet it’s clearly the strategy of the current government to slowly and gradually eliminate the Western presence. If the Renaissance Fund is strangled, so go many Ukrainian NGOs. 

13.09.10. TVi and 5 Kanal stripped of their licences

September 8, 2010

Luke Harding in Kharkiv

For journalists, Klymentyev is a chilling symbol of how press freedoms are being curtailed in Ukraine seven months after the election of Viktor Yanukovych, the country's new pro-Russian president. Yanukovych, his critics say, has set about reversing the gains of the 2004-10 Orange Revolution, in which newspapers and TV flourished. Reporters talk of a new era of fear and censorship.

Last week Kiev's district court stripped two independent opposition television stations, TVi and 5 Kanal, of their licences. TVi has fallen off the main airwaves, while 5 Kanal – which came to prominence with its coverage of the 2004 pro-democracy demonstrations – has had its audience severely reduced. The winner is Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, owner of the pro-Yanukovych Inter Media television empire – and head of Ukraine's SBU security service.

In a report last week the watchdog Reporters Without Borders said broadcast media pluralism in Ukraine was being "seriously eroded", warning of a "disturbing level of hostility towards journalists on the part of the authorities", including "physical attacks".

Ukraine's apparent lurch towards authoritarianism has alarmed EU leaders and MPs. Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, expressed her concerns during a visit to Kiev last week. ...

Shortly before his disappearance, Klymentyev had been preparing a story about the mansions of four top officials, one from Ukraine's security service.


In the meantime, Klymentyev's friends and colleagues say they have no confidence in the official investigation into his disappearance. The journalist was a savage critic of local prosecutors who have now been given the task of finding his killers.

"Klymentyev was extremely persistent," Matvienko said. "I'm sure he's dead. There is no desire to have a real investigation. We are returning to the same dark era as Gongadze."

Complete article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/08/ukraine-press-freedom

13.09.10. The IV Kyiv Security Forum

What contribution can Ukraine make to global and European security?, – the issue addressed by experts in analytical materials prepared for the IV Kyiv Security Forum

Experts-participants of the round table entitled “Whose Security Concerns?” held on 11 June 2010, prepared an analytical background paper which will be the basis for discussions during IV Kyiv Security Forum (KSF). This year the Forum will be held on 11-12 November 2010 entitled “Changing the Security Paradigm in a Fragmented World. European Dimension.”

The document is prepared by Andrew Wilson, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Affairs; by Irina Kobrinskaya, Senior Research Associate at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Analysts of Open Ukraine Foundation.

The experts believe that Ukraine will remain open to all forms of cooperation with the rest of the world, even though it was officially declared as “not-bloc” country under Viktor Yanukovych. Kostiantyn Hryshchenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stresses “new Ukrainian pragmatism” in foreign policy.

The authors appeal: “Ukraine must find its own place not just in a multi-polar world, but in a multi-polar Europe.” They think that Russia and Turkey no longer seek to join the West as junior partners, but see themselves as regional powers with a global voice.  

China meanwhile is quietly emerging not just as another economic player in Eastern Europe, but one that eschews the conditional engagement that is the EU’s traditional modus operandi”: warn experts. They consider the European presence in the Black Sea Region as one of the weakest and it is obvious for them that the U.S. is losing its interest in the region as well. 

They raise important question: “Where does Ukraine fit in this security debate? What specific contribution can it make to thinking outside the box of the old paradigms of the 1990s?”

To consult the full text of analytical paper, please visit the website: 




The KSF is organized annually to serve as a platform for debates about major security challenges in Europe and wider Black Sea Region. Traditionally, the Forum is held at the beginning of November and brings together distinguished Ukrainian and international politicians, experts, business representatives, civil society leaders, and journalists.

To consult the draft agenda of KSF, please visit the website: 

http://ksf.openukraine.org/media/KSF_4_AGENDA_UA.doc        (Ukrainian)

http://ksf.openukraine.org/media/KSF_4_AGENDA_EN.doc        (English)

The KSF is organized Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation in partnership with Chatham House (UK). Key financial support is provided by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Analysis is prepared with the support of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, Project of the German Marshall Fund (United States). 


23.09.10. Strasbourg-dom til fordel for ukrainsk avis


At forvalte pressefriheden som et nyt demokrati har forvoldt en del stater problemer. Det ukrainske dagblad Gazeta Ukraina-Tsentr  kom i klemme, da det i juni 2002 refererede nogle krasse udfald fra en lokal journalist i Kirovgrad, der på en pressekonference beskyldte en kandidat til et kommunalvalg, blot her identificeret som ’Y’, for at have beordret drab på selv samme journalist for 5000 dollars. Samme beskyldning blev rundkastet på en tv-kanal ved navn STB TV.

  Kandidaten Y rejste dag sag ved distriktsdomstolen i Kirovgrad mod såvel avisen som journalisten, identificeret som ’M’. Sagen blev yderligere speget ved at Y er formand for Kirovgrads regionale råd af dommere. Journalisten fik afslag på en anmodning om at sagen blev overført til en anden domstol. Distriktsdomstolen fandt journalistens beskyldning ærekrænkende og dømte avisen til at betale Y 100.000 hryvnia, journalisten skulle 10.000 hryvnia (nogenlunde de samme beløb i danske kroner).

  Gazeta Ukraina-Tsentr’s protest mod afgørelsen med henvisning til at dommeren ikke var fuldstændig upartisk på grund af afhængighed af Y blev ikke taget til følge, ej heller i Ukraines Højesteret. Avisen indbragte da sagen for Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedsdomstol i Strasbourg, idet den ikke fandt sagen behandlet ved en upartisk domstol tillige med krænkelse af ytringsfriheden.

 Strasbourg-domstolen fastslog, at Y’s stilling som formand for det regionale dommerråd udgjorde en risiko for, at sagen blev påvirket heraf, nemlig ved at den dommer, som afgjorde den, kunne komme ud for disciplinære foranstaltninger. Selv en mistanke om sådan afhængighed må ikke forefindes i et demokratisk samfund, hed det: Det svækker offentlighedens tillid til domsmagten. Følgelig statueredes krænkelse af den europæiske menneskerettighedsdomstols art 6, stk 1, som sikrer afgørelse af sager ved en upartisk og uafhængig domstol.

 Domstolen erkendte, at journalisten M’s påstand om lejemord var meget alvorlig, særlig op til det vigtige kommunalvalg i Kirovgrad, men også på grund af den udsatte position journalister i dagens Ukraine befinder sig i: Siden 1991 er 18 journalister blevet myrdet i dette land. Imidlertid havde de ukrainske domstole ikke skelnet mellem journalisten og den avis, der objektivt havde viderebragt hans påstand. Begge blev dømt for ærekrænkelse. Dette var ifølge Strasbourg-domstolen ude af proportion og udtryk for indgreb i avisens pressefrihed, hvorfor der også var tale om brud på art.10 i menneskerettighedskonventionen - den om ytringsfrihed.


25.09.10. Ukraine to host UN-backed forum marking Chernobyl anniversary

Ukraine will host a high-level United Nations-backed conference next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident and assess the progress towards restoring and normalizing life in the region affected by the disaster.

The country’s President Viktor Yanukovych told the opening day of the General Assembly’s annual General Debate today that the forum will be held in Kyiv, the capital, next April, and will also discuss nuclear safety issues.

“That tragedy is still an open wound for us,” said Mr. Yanukovych, referring to the 26 April 1986 accident at the Chernobyl power plant in the then Soviet Union. An estimated 8 million people in what is now Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were exposed to radiation, and thousands contracted thyroid cancer and other diseases.

“Overcoming its consequences remains a serious challenge for the international community as the scale of the problems requires a coordinated effort involving all of our international partners,” he added.

The General Assembly has declared 2006-2016 the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions, urging assistance for Chernobyl-affected communities to return to a normal life. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has prepared a so-called UN Chernobyl Action Plan to boost life in affected areas.

In his address to the General Assembly today Mr. Yanukovych also stressed the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

He noted that his country announced in April that it was eradicating its stocks of highly enriched uranium, and he also welcomed the signing of a new disarmament treaty between the United States and Russia.

“The experience of the recent decades shows that nuclear weapons do not always increase security. Moreover, the countries that try to acquire nuclear weapons may be exposed to the impact of new risks and become more vulnerable.”

The President called for a legally binding international instrument to provide security countries for all countries that have disposed of their nuclear arsenals or that do not belong to any military alliance.

“This is the best way to ward off regional nuclear ambitions,” he said.




30.09.10. Ukrainske oligarker og det nye styre (eng.)

September 22, 2010

Taras Kuzio

The image of the Viktor Yanukovych administration continues to deteriorate in the eyes of Ukrainians and Europe, as seen in opinion polls and a September 13 statement by the Political Assembly of the center-right European Peoples Party, the most influential political group in the European Parliament. The EPP asserted it is “deeply disturbed by the ongoing situation with Ukraine’s democratic development” (http://epp.eu/press.asp?artid=1447&fullview=1). Two days later the EU called upon Yanukovych to not destroy Ukraine’s democracy (www.pravda.com.ua/news/2010/09/17/5393165/).

A central figure contributing to ending Yanukovych’s honeymoon with the West is the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Chairman, Valery Khoroshkovsky. It is, therefore, surprising that his protégé, oligarch and Leonid Kuchma’s son-in-law, Viktor Pinchuk, a trailblazer in seeking to lobby a new and improved international image for himself, has remained silent. Khoroshkovsky was propelled into Ukrainian politics in 2002 as a leader of the KOP (Winter Crop Generation) political party that Pinchuk funded as a rival to Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine.

The seventh annual summit of Pinchuk’s Yalta European Strategy (YES), an event which senior European and American elites regularly attend, had nothing to say about threats to Ukraine’s democracy (http://yes-ukraine.org/en/yes7agenda.html). Such threats derail Ukraine’s hopes for European integration, as seen in the EPP and EU statements, and thereby make the work of the YES NGO ineffectual. Former European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary General of the Council of the EU, Javier Solana, joined the board of YES. YES Chairman and former Polish President, Aleksandr Kwasniewski, said, “With his outstanding record as the EU’s chief diplomat he is uniquely suited to further strengthen the impact of YES as the leading platform to promote Ukraine’s European integration.” “Ukraine has a special place in my heart,” Solana said, adding “therefore, I am happy to be able to support its work towards European integration as a board member of YES. I will work with the YES board to provide concrete advice and help foster a constructive dialog on how to tackle common global challenges and pave the way to Ukraine’s EU integration” (http://yes-ukraine.org/en/events.html?_m=publications&_c=view&_t=rec&id=993). Such statements appear to be mere rhetoric in the face of the assault on Ukraine’s democracy.

In addition to Pinchuk, Khoroshkovsky is also tied to Dmytro Firtash through media interests in Inter, Ukraine’s most popular television channel, and seven regional channels. Inter, which is the dominant channel in Russophone Eastern-Southern Ukraine, played a vital role in mobilising votes for Yanukovych in this year’s presidential elections. Firtash, unlike Pinchuk, has no political ambitions beyond aligning with Ukrainian politicians who do not intervene in his business interests, particularly gas. Firtash has never run for parliament, unlike Pinchuk who did so in 1998 and 2002. 


Pinchuk, Firtash and other Ukrainian oligarchs would not wish to see a Russian-style authoritarian regime introduced into Ukraine as it would be unpredictable in its relations with big business and would undermine European integration. Ukraine’s oligarchs see as more important Kyiv signing a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) with the EU over the amorphous CIS Single Economic Space. Nevertheless, Ukrainian oligarchs have not followed some of their Russian counterparts (Mikhail Khoroshkovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, and the more controversial Boris Berezovsky) in opposing authoritarianism, after Vladimir Putin was first elected in 2000. Some Ukrainian oligarchs, such as Khoroshkovsky and Igor Kolomoysky, owner of 1+1 channel, have been accused by journalists of assisting in dismantling democratic gains by introducing censorship (www.telekritika.ua/cenzura/). The declining situation in the media has mostly contributed to tarnishing the Yanukovych administration’s image in Europe (Reporters Without Frontiers, September 1, en.rsf.org/ukraine-temptation-to-control-report-of-01-09-2010,38249.html).
Khoroshkovsky has embarrassed the Yanukovych administration and thereby harmed Ukraine’s European credentials in his two positions as media magnate and SBU Chairman. Channels 5 and TVI have been stripped of frequencies they won in competitions. Academics and historians working in archives have been detained, threatened or visited by the SBU, leading to an outcry throughout Europe and an open protest letter signed by over 100 Western academics on September 15 (http://eng.maidanua.org/node/1147 and SBU reply at www.pravda.com.ua/news/2010/09/15/5384815/).
The SBU’s July detention of Nico Lange, head of the Ukraine office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, was embarrassing for the Ukrainian authorities coming only a month before Yanukovych’s visit to Germany. Lange was released only after the intervention of Chancellor, Angela Merkel. A subsequent investigation of the Revival Fund, financed by George Soros, was closed after a direct intervention by the presidential administration head, Serhiy Levochkin (www.pravda.com.ua/news/2010/09/8/5365637/).
Anatoliy Grytsenko, head of the parliamentary committee on national security and defence, believes –like many– that the SBU is deliberately derailing Ukraine’s European integration and thereby pushing Ukraine into a single vector pro-Russian foreign policy (http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2010/09/19/5395398/). Such views about Khoroshkovsky are widespread in the foreign ministry, a senior Ukrainian diplomat confided to Jamestown, and among former SBU officers who see the SBU transforming itself into a new KGB (http://www.dt.ua/1000/1550/70437/). The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union warned that SBU officers actions “are more reminiscent of those of the KGB in the Soviet era” (http://eng.maidanua.org/node/1144).
The detention of former Yulia Tymoshenko government ministers is not perceived, as Yanukovych claimed during his August 30 visit to Germany, as a serious battle against corruption because the arrests are selective against only one political force, the Tymoshenko bloc (BYuT). Tymoshenko’s right-hand man, Oleksandr Turchynov, was interrogated by the SBU and has since gone into hiding, together with former Economy Minister, Bohdan  Danylyshyn, who is wanted for questioning.


The Fatherland Party, which Tymoshenko leads, is a member of the EPP where she spoke during the EPP congress on September 15. The EPP includes leaders and governments from 15 EU members as well as EU Commission President, Manuel Barroso, and therefore will influence whether the West declares the October 31 Ukrainian local elections as “free” (http://epp.eu/index.asp).


Some of Ukraine’s oligarchs have sought to change their international image, all have second homes in France, Monaco and Britain and support Ukraine signing a free trade zone agreement with the EU. Why are they silent about the erosion of Ukraine’s democracy, particularly steps undertaken by the SBU, which undermine Ukraine’s future prospects of EU membership? Indeed, their silence is even more contradictory as they have more to lose than Russian oligarchs who opposed authoritarianism during Putin’s first term. Russia – unlike Ukraine – has never sought NATO or EU membership. 

11.10.10. The American Ukrainian diaspora and the new rule

Wolodymyr (Walter) Derzko

The question of how should the western Ukrainian Diaspora deal with Ukraine’s pro-Russian and anti-democracy stance has arisen several times since the election of the new Yanukovych government in February 2010.

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) chose to ignore and bypass a meeting with the Ukrainian president, instead holding a protest rally in the streets of New York during the UN General Assembly meetings. “We understood that there is no sense to meet with Viktor Yanukovych. The president has not yet answered the list of grievances that the World Congress of Ukrainians presented to him at the meeting in June of this year despite his promise.” said Tamara Olexy, the head of Ukrainian Congress Committee of America in an Kyiv Post interview

This leads to the bigger question: Strategically, what other options are available to Ukrainian community leaders when be dealing with the current Ukrainian government? It’s not as simple as a yes or no decision and has not been well explored and discussed behind closed doors. Traditionally the Western Diaspora has exclusively used only two negotiation tactics in conflict situations with Ukraine, isolation and/or confrontation. Ask any MBA student, who has taken a basic course in conflict resolution and they will tell you that there are three more approaches, which the Diaspora is ignoring and is not utilizing in its negotiation tool kit.

I’m constantly amazed at this frequent lack of transfer from professional life to volunteer life. Skills and techniques that managers, executives, consultants and professionals regularly use that were taught and studied in business school and are applied in everyday business affairs are ignored in the evening when we sit down as volunteers in our Ukrainian organizations.

While the snubbing of Ukrainian president Yanukovych by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) in New York, could be considered by many as a short term public relations victory, in my mind, it was a tactical and strategic error. A much bigger and more important opportunity window was ignored and missed by the western Ukrainian Diaspora leaders.

Most people don’t realize that the Yanukovych government desperately needs the support of the leadership institutions in the Ukrainian Diaspora in both Canada and the USA.

Why? And why now?

One signal that was misinterpreted by the Diaspora, just before the Yanukowych visit to New York, was the token attempt at a last minute reproachment with the Ukrainian Diaspora, which included the sudden reappearance of an edited and watered down Holodomor web page on the Ukrainian presidential web site, a reply to the five month old letter of demands from the UCCA, an offer to open the KGB archives on World War Two and to set up a public TV broadcast station in Ukraine.

It has long been rumored in policy and strategy circles and blogs that I hang out in, that the Yanukovych government will be seeking a prestigious and influential two year seat at the UN Security Council table. That eventually requires convincing two thirds of the 192 member countries of the UN to vote for Ukraine. Currently Germany, Canada and Portugal are ferociously bidding for two vacant seats on the UN Security Council, which will be decided in a vote on October 12, 2010. The key influential player here are the USA and Canada. Without their overt support, any bids for a seat on the UN Security Council are doomed to failure.

On September 24, 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych officially confirmed Ukraine's intention to get membership in the UN Security Council. "On this occasion, I have the honor to confirm Ukraine's intention to acquire a membership of the UN Security Council for a period of 2016-2017," Yanukovych said at the debate at the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. The president stressed that the changes in the UN are impossible without the renewal of its core - the Security Council. "Ukraine is ready to discuss all the promising concepts of reform of the Security Council. We are convinced that the key to success is recognizing the interests of all regional groups, which are under-represented in this body, in particular the Eastern European one", the president said .(Interfax, September 24, 2010)

In addition to a Ukrainian seat, Ukraine is pushing for the increased influence of Eastern Europe. “Ukraine is continuing to insist that the Eastern European countries be given an extra seat on the United Nations Security Council, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oleksandr Motsyk has said. "We have our own position, which foresees that the interests of the Eastern European group should be definitely taken into account during the reorganization of the Security Council. The Eastern European group should be given an extra seat," he told Ukrainian journalists in New York on Thursday. The ambassador noted that the negotiation process had started many years ago and that the issue was very complex, as it affects the interests of many member states of the United Nations."No consensus has currently been reached on this issue," he said (Interfax Sept 23, 2010).

With this pronouncement the Ukrainian Diaspora now suddenly finds itself in an elevated position, holding two strategically important trump cards in Ukraine’s bid for nomination to the Security Council. Sadly this issue is not even on the Diaspora radar. Ukrainian Diaspora does not even recognize that it’s a new “influencer” if not a new player at the table and that it already holds two key winning trump cards, in future negotiations with Ukraine.

The Yanukovych government needs to court the UCCA and the CUC and the UWC to convince both the American and Canadian governments and other strategic member countries to support Ukraine’s future bid. The Diaspora holds an important “Supporter trump card” where it can lobby both US and Canada to support Ukraine’s bid as well as a “detractor” trump card that can be used equally well to derail Ukraine’s bid.

According to Kyiv Post: “Olexander Motryk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, called Askold Lozynskyj several days before Yanukovych’s visit and asked what the president could do to avoid the street protest. Lozynskyj answered: fire Soldatenko [head of the Institute of National Memory], Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk and recognize the Holodomor as genocide.”

With these two trump cards, the Diaspora can add many more demands to the negotiation table.

Wolodymyr (Walter) Derzko is a Senior Fellow at the Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab), and a lecturer in the MA program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU) in Toronto.


11.10.10. Ukrainian Education Minister Tabachnyk and nationalism

Taras Kuzio

Education Minister, Dmytro Tabachnyk, in Ukrainian Prime Minister, Nikolai Azarov’s, government has always been a controversial figure because of his antagonistic views towards Western Ukrainians, Ukrainian nationalism and his pro-Russian view of history. Valery Khoroshkovsky continues to remain in his position as the Chairman of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) despite continually embarrassing President Viktor Yanukovych (EDM, September 23).

The appointments of Tabachnyk and Khoroshkovsky both negatively impacted on President Yanukovych’s international and domestic image. The fact that they remain in place is evidence that Russia was able to implement its demand to influence cabinet appointments in the Siloviki and humanities fields in exchange for support for Yanukovych in the 2010 elections. These demands were outlined in President, Dmitry Medvedev’s, August 2009 open letter to the then President Viktor Yushchenko (http://korrespondent.net, August 9, 2009).

Tabachnyk’s latest attacks on Ukrainian nationalism (http://2000.net.ua/2000/aspekty/amplituda/68928) was too much for Petro Pysarchuk, the Party of Regions candidate for Lviv Mayor in the October 31 local elections, who had drafted a parliamentary resolution for the ministers dismissal. “Tabachnyk has no authorization from the congress or the political council of the Party of Regions to be its ideologue,” Pysarchuk stated (Ukrayinska Pravda, September 22). Tabachnyk’s latest attack on Galicians would be a private affair, Pysarchuk says, if not for the fact that he is a sitting cabinet official. Pysarchuk points out that not all Galicians are “nationalists”. However, they are united in their loathing of Tabachnyk, adding that “it is without sense that Dmytro Volodymyrovych is seeking to collect arguments to denigrate Lviv as its Ukrainian spirit could not be destroyed over the centuries by many powerful colonizers.”

During the Viktor Yushchenko presidency (2005-2010) Tabachnyk regularly attacked Ukrainian nationalism, which he associated with the “Orange” leaders, Viktor Yushchenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Galicians. Tabachnyk perceives himself in the role of a Soviet era ideological secretary, for example, in his visceral denunciations of Ukrainian nationalists in the 1940’s, which positions him close to the Communist Party and neo-Soviet wing of the Party of Regions. Tabachnyk has banned the use of “World War II” from textbooks in favor of the “Great Patriotic War” (ignoring the 1939-1941 Nazi-Soviet collaboration) (Ukrayinska Pravda, April 12).

In his “what kind of textbooks should we use?” argument, Tabachnyk asserted that “Stepan Bandera and Yuriy Shukhevych will remain in history as nationalists and organizers of mass murder and will forever be stained by the brush of collaborationism” (www.partyofregions.org.ua, June 4). Tabachnyk used traditional Soviet discourse to describe the Orange camp as “national-radicals” and “nationalists” rather than “democrats” and “patriots.” Tabachnyk rejected the term “national democrat” as a contradiction in terms, “a euphemism, like ‘national socialism,’ which masks the ‘core-nationalistic’ substance of this trend” (Rossiiske Vesti, October 28, 2006).

Tabachnyk has pursued two commonly held Russian nationalist positions. First, Galicians are not really “Ukrainians” and that they are different from Ukrainians living in central and eastern Ukraine. “Galicians have virtually nothing to do with the people of Great Ukraine mentally, confessionally, linguistically or politically. We have different enemies and different allies. Furthermore, our allies, and even brothers are their enemies, and their ‘heroes’ (Stepan Bandera, Yuriy Shukhevych) are for us murderers, traitors and accomplices of Hitler's executioners,” Tabachnyk asserts. Moreover, Tabachnyk claims it is misplaced for the US and Europe to see the Orange Revolutionaries as “democrats; in reality, they are ‘Ukrainian nationalists.” Tabachnyk, like the Russian leadership and the Yanukovych administration, believes democratic revolutions were CIA conspiracies and the 2005-2010 Yushchenko administration received its orders from the US embassy (D.Tabachnyk, “Utynyi sup” po-Ukrainski. Kharkiv: Folio, 2008).

US conspiracy theories have proved popular among post-Soviet leaders and led to steps in Ukraine and Russia (where were successful) to introduce legislation limiting Western funding for NGO’s. Tabachnyk, like many in the Yanukovych administration, sees Western criticism of democratic regression, such as censorship, as the work of Ukrainian NGO’s funded by Western grants to slander the Ukrainian authorities. “Freedom of speech in their understanding (‘independent media’ and ‘Stop cenzura!’) is the freedom of the opposition to lie about everything about the authorities,” Tabachnyk suggested (http://2000.net.ua/2000/aspekty/amplituda/68928).

Former President, Leonid Kuchma, and Parliamentary Chairman, Volodymyr Lytvyn, both continue to point to the Georgi Gongadze murder scandal in the fall of 2000 as a US conspiracy (Ukrayinska Pravda, September 15). This prompted a strong rebuke from US Ambassador John Teft (Kyiv Post, September 22). Tabachnyk’s latest diatribe “Spiritual Capitulation of Ukrainian Nationalists” (http://2000.net.ua/2000/aspekty/amplituda/68928) was published in his favorite newspaper, 2000, established by “former” KGB officer, Sergei Kychygyn, who as Communist Party commissar at the Vechirnyi Kyiv newspaper, specialized in vitriolic attacks on dissidents and NGO’s. The newspaper has specialized in Soviet-style denunciations of the opposition as American hirelings and of “Ukrainian nationalism.” Political expert Mykola Riabchuk described 2000 to Jamestown as “an openly [Russian Federal Security Service] FSB product in Ukraine.” Their main agenda seeks to belittle support for Ukrainian nationalism. Tymoshenko’s main mistake was that after her defeat she began to rely on nationalistic rhetoric. “Nationalist forces” do not have any serious support among Ukrainians and cannot return to power because they discredited themselves during Yushchenko’s presidency.

Therefore, “nationalists” seek to retain power over a small part of Ukraine by separating Western Ukraine or expelling the Donbass and Crimea. This is a reference to Ukrainian writer Yuriy Andrukovych who in an interview in UNIAN (July 22) and Rzechzpospolita (August 1) triggered a major debate when he suggested that if “Orange” forces returned to power, and Donetsk or Crimea again raised the question of separating (as they did at the Severdonetsk congress on November 27, 2004 in response to the Orange Revolution) they should be allowed to leave (Ukrayinska Pravda, August 4, 5, 10, 30, UNIAN, July 29).

Tabachnyk alleges that “nationalists” now represent a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. “Individuals from Ivano-Frankivsk seek to separate these regions where their ‘real’ nation lives and to build a state using apartheid and ethnic cleansing techniques” (http://2000.net.ua/2000/aspekty/amplituda/68928).

Tabachnyk’s latest denunciation of Ukrainian nationalism represents a set of inter-connected ideas, bad analogies and groundless accusations. Such an article would be intellectually ridiculed if written by an education minister within a Western democracy. Yanukovych's support for his education minister is evident in his September 30 decree establishing a Committee on Questions of Educational Quality, which Tabachnyk will head (www.www.president.gov.ua).The fact that Tabachnyk and Khoroshkovsky remain in influential positions, despite embarrassing the president, is evidence that Moscow retains large influence over the Yanukovych administration.

11.10.10. Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?

Mass killing is still the way a lot of governments do business.

The past few decades have seen terrifying examples in Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur, Bosnia.

Murder on a national scale, yes – but is it genocide? "The word carries a powerful punch," said Stanford history Professor Norman Naimark. "In international courts, it's considered the crime of crimes."

Nations have tugs of war over the official definition of the word "genocide" itself -- which mentions only national, ethnic, racial and religious groups. The definition can determine, after all, international relations, foreign aid and national morale. Look at the annual international tussle over whether the 1915 Turkish massacre and deportation of the Armenians "counts" as genocide.

Naimark, author of the controversial new book Stalin's Genocides, argues that we need a much broader definition of genocide, one that includes nations killing social classes and political groups. His case in point: Stalin.

The book's title is plural for a reason: He argues that the Soviet elimination of a social class, the kulaks (who were higher-income farmers), and the subsequent killer famine among all Ukrainian peasants – as well as the notorious 1937 order No. 00447 that called for the mass execution and exile of "socially harmful elements" as "enemies of the people" – were, in fact, genocide.

A dispossessed kulak and his family in front of their home in Udachne village in Donets'ka oblast', 1930s.


The term "genocide" was defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention's work was shaped by the Holocaust – "that was considered the genocide," said Naimark.

"A catastrophe had just happened, and everyone was still thinking about the war that had just ended. This always occurs with international law – they outlaw what happened in the immediate past, not what's going to happen in the future."

In his book, he concludes that there was more similarity between Hitler and Stalin than usually acknowledged: "Both chewed up the lives of human beings in the name of a transformative vision of Utopia. Both destroyed their countries and societies, as well as vast numbers of people inside and outside their own states. Both, in the end, were genocidaires."

Shipment of grain from the Chervonyi Step collective farm to a procurement center, Kyivs'ka oblast', 1932. The sign reads 'Socialists' bread instead of kulak's bread.'

All early drafts of the U.N. genocide convention included social and political groups in its definition. But one hand that wasn't in the room guided the pen. The Soviet delegation vetoed any definition of genocide that might include the actions of its leader, Joseph Stalin. The Allies, exhausted by war, were loyal to their Soviet allies – to the detriment of subsequent generations.

Naimark argues that that the narrow definition of genocide is the dictator's unacknowledged legacy to us today.

Accounts "gloss over the genocidal character of the Soviet regime in the 1930s, which killed systematically rather than episodically," said Naimark. In the process of collectivization, for example, 30,000 kulaks were killed directly, mostly shot on the spot. About 2 million were forcibly deported to the Far North and Siberia.

They were called "enemies of the people," as well as swine, dogs, cockroaches, scum, vermin, filth, garbage, half animals, apes. Activists promoted murderous slogans: "We will exile the kulak by the thousand when necessary – shoot the kulak breed." "We will make soap of kulaks." "Our class enemies must be wiped off the face of the earth."

One Soviet report noted that gangs "drove the dekulakized naked in the streets, beat them, organized drinking bouts in their houses, shot over their heads, forced them to dig their own graves, undressed women and searched them, stole valuables, money, etc."

The destruction of the kulak class triggered the Ukrainian famine, during which 3 million to 5 million peasants died of starvation.

"There is a great deal of evidence of government connivance in the circumstances that brought on the shortage of grain and bad harvests in the first place and made it impossible for Ukrainians to find food for their survival," Naimark writes.


"How much can you move on? Can you put it in your past? How is a national identity formed when a central part of it is a crime?" Naimark asked. "The Germans have gone about it the right way," he said, pointing out that the Germany has pioneered research about the Holocaust and the crimes of the Nazi regime. "Through denial and obfuscation, the Turks have gone about it the wrong way."

Without a full examination of the past, Naimark observed, it's too easy for it to happen again.

Toward the end of his life, Stalin may have had another genocide in his crosshairs. We'll never know whether the concocted conspiracy of Jewish Kremlin doctors in 1952 would have resulted in the internal exile of the entire Jewish population. Whatever plans existed ended abruptly with Stalin's death in March 1953, as rumors of Jewish deportations were swirling.

One of Stalin's colleagues recalled the dictator reviewing an arrest list (really, a death list) and muttering to himself: "Who's going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years' time? No one. … Who remembers the names now of the boyars Ivan the Terrible got rid of? No one. … The people had to know he was getting rid of all his enemies. In the end, they all got what they deserved."

Complete article:

11.10.10. The Kharkiv accord and Russia's sphere of influence

September 24, 2010

Richard Palmer

Throughout Yushenko’s presidency, Russia did all it could to discredit Ukraine’s new pro-Western direction. Russia appears to have had an easy job—with all their petty squabbling and infighting, the leaders of the Orange Revolution seemed to do a good job of discrediting themselves.

Moscow’s chance to formally take back Ukraine came on February 14, with the election of Ukraine’s new president. Russia’s puppet, Yanukovich, won, albeit by a very slim margin of only 3.48 percent.


Russia’s puppet was firmly in charge of Ukraine, and so Russia’s agenda began to roll out.

On April 21, Yanukovich and Medvedev signed the Khariv accords, which allowed Russia to station its Black Sea fleet in the Crimea, and in return Ukraine was given a substantial discount on gas imported from Russia. The agreement, however, is heavily in Russia’s favor and ensures Ukraine’s dependency on Russia for decades to come. After the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko wanted to kick the fleet out of the Crimea in 2017. The Kharkiv accords guarantee that it can stay at least until 2042.

“The Kharkiv accords … have significant geopolitical implications,” writes James Sherr, head of the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, an independent think tank based in the UK. “Not only do they signify a reversal of the policies adopted since 2005 by former President Viktor Yushchenko, they amount to a fundamental revision of the course that Ukraine has pursued since acquiring independence in 1991.”

The accords put Ukraine firmly within Russia’s sphere of influence. The accords “could preclude any further integration into the Euro-Atlantic security system for many years,” writes Sherr.

This change of direction for Ukraine will be very hard to reverse. If a future government decides it wants to kick the Russian fleet out of the Crimea, it will have to repay all of the gas discounts Ukraine has received.


On April 2, Ukraine tore down the six departments that coordinate Ukraine’s integration with nato. Even before the Orange Revolution, Ukraine worked with nato. But now Ukraine is burning the bridges that connect it to the alliance.

Instead it has invited the alliance set up by Moscow—the Collective Security Treaty Organization (csto)—to set up offices in Kyiv. The government has established a commission to investigate the potential for Ukraine to join the organization.

Russia is also undertaking an economic assault against Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly urged a merger between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz—a merger that would give Russia control over Ukraine’s gas industry and nuclear power generation. Sherr writes that “Steel, chemical, shipbuilding, aviation and nuclear enterprises are now under pressure from Russian buyers, ostensibly private, but backed by state lines of credit.”

As all this has happened, Ukraine’s government has expanded its power to the point that Ukraine is looking more and more like the Soviet state it once was. Ukraine’s government have been carefully eroding the country’s democracy. Sherr writes:

Outright violation of the law by the state evokes outrage, but its selective and bias application might not. Punishment creates heroines and martyrs, but bribery and kompromat [putting pressure on a person using compromising information] create accomplices. Censorship provokes defiance, but the reallocation of broadcasting frequencies provokes technical arguments. The suborning of judges arouses condemnation, but not so emphatically when one’s predecessor has done the same, even if less brutally and with an arguably superior purpose.


After Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 1998, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote that Ukraine “is the breadbasket of Russia, and surely it [Russia] is willing to wage war over that as well.”

He was right. Russia has waged war over the area—the kind of quiet, total war that Russia excels in. It involves security services and big business; political maneuverings and blockbuster movies. The Russian state has marshaled everything it can to take part in the assault.

Ukraine appears to be a major success for it. “For their part, Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, without international opprobrium or loss of life, have secured greater geopolitical dividends than were realized as a result of victory in the Georgian war,” writes Sherr.

Another country quietly falls to Russia, though this time without the world watching the 24/7 news coverage of the takeover—though you can be sure Europe is paying attention. For more information on Russia’s goals in Eastern Europe, see our article “Russia’s Attack Signals Dangerous New Era.”

26.10.10. Ukraine’s foreign and security policy and Russia

Taras Kuzio

President Viktor Yanukovych’s foreign and security policy is controlled by Russia and coordinated with Moscow. The same conclusion is already appearing among European elites after seeing first-hand how Ukrainian foreign policy personnel work closely with Russia.

Russian influence in Ukraine’s foreign policy is evident in two areas. The first is coordination between the Ukrainian delegation headed by the Romanian and Party of Regions deputy, Ivan Popecku, and the Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that sought to moderate criticism of the October 5 resolution (http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/Doc/ATListingDetails_E.asp?ATID=11237). A detailed analysis of backroom negotiations described the Russian delegation as “the Big Brother of the Party of Regions” (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 6).

Russian support for the Ukrainian authorities on the PACE monitoring committee only served to increase the determination of the Estonian PACE co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Ukraine, Mailis Reps, to include tough criticism of the Ukrainian authorities. Russian and Ukrainian delegations repeatedly blamed the “Orange” authorities for alleged democratic infringements and repression of Russian speakers. “Yushchenko was a pseudo-democrat!” Russian Duma deputy Dmitriy Viatkin said, a comment followed by similar remarks by Russian Communist leader Gennadiy Zyuganov and the Russian political technologist, Sergei Markov (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 6).

Additional evidence of Russian influence on Ukrainian foreign and security policy emerged in the annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) summit headed by oligarch, Viktor Pinchuk (http://yes-ukraine.org/). This year’s summit on September 30-October 3 was the first occasion where Russia sent a high powered delegation from its political and business elites, including Deputy Prime Minister, Alexei Kudrin. The delegation included the ideologue of “Russian modernization,” Viktor Vekselberg, a strategy that is appealing to Yanukovych’s administration. (www.mg.co.za/article/2006-11-10-who-is-viktor-vekselberg). In previous YES summits, the Russian delegation included only “a few experts and marginalized politicians,” one Ukrainian expert wrote in the Ukrayinska Pravda blog (October 4).

One EU politician attending the summit said “Now maybe Russians will be taking care of Ukraine’s European integration.” Although said in jest, the diplomat was actually pointing to a new reality: Moscow’s determination to influence and keep the pulse of Ukraine’s European integration outside the CIS. Yanukovych acceded to Russia’s demand to end Ukraine’s aim of joining NATO and Moscow is now seeking to halt or slow down Ukraine’s integration into the EU. As one Russian participant confided: “They can still play a little with their European integration but sooner or later they will return to the (CIS) Customs Union” (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 4).

Yanukovych did not displease his Russian guests, as during his speech he never once mentioned Ukraine’s desire to join the EU. Instead, he said that Ukraine “will choose the speed, form and methods of integration that conform to its national interests” (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 4). Yanukovych is the first of four Ukrainian presidents to avoid supporting efforts to join NATO or to publicly endorse joining the EU. Yanukovych has repeatedly ignored requests by the G7 Ambassadors for a meeting in Kyiv (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 11).

These developments, coupled with the rollback of democracy in Ukraine (EDM, October 13), are being seen by Kyiv’s lack of interest in joining the EU, according to Elmar Brok, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (Kyiv Post, October 4). On the eve of Yanukovych’s visit to France, French experts reached similar conclusions (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 6, Politychna Dumka, October 8). Russian influence on Ukraine’s security policy is evident in three areas. The first, and most obvious, is through the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Chairman, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, who over the course of only eight months has undermined Ukraine’s international image as well as domestic and international trust in Yanukovych’s commitment to democracy. The PACE resolution condemned the use of the SBU for political ends, a criticism which was not included for “technical reasons” on the report broadcast on Inter, Ukraine’s most popular television channel (owned by Khoroshkovsky).

During a September visit to Kyiv, the author asked a wide variety of Ukrainian political experts and parliamentary deputies to explain why Khoroshkovsky remains in place while he embarrasses the president, such as in July when Nico Lange, director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, was detained at Kyiv Airport a month before Yanukovych’s visit to Germany. The answers were that he is directly working for Russia to undermine Ukraine’s European integration. Moreover, he has presidential plans and wishes to receive Moscow’s support as a future “Ukrainian Putin.”

In addition, Viacheslav Zanevskyi, the head of Yanukovych’s presidential guard, is a Russian citizen, a scandal that was dismissed by presidential administration head, Serhiy Levochkin, as irrelevant (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 6, 9). Zanevskyi was hired in the summer of 2008 because the then opposition leader Yanukovych did not trust the SBU or the Directorate on State Protection [UDO], the former ninth directorate of the Soviet KGB. This is an outcome of Yanukovych’s pathological fear of being assassinated (EDM, June 28).

Zanevskyi’s unofficial title is “Head of the personal guard of the President,” but his official title is “non-resident presidential adviser.” It remains secret who is paying Zanevskyi’s salary and expenses as these cannot come from the state budget (Jamestown Foundation blog, October 13).

Zanvskyi “is the eyes and ear who sees everything and hears everything” (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 6). Zanvskyi has access to Yanukovych’s itinerary, his personal life, state secrets and telephone conversations, and he is able to install monitoring devices wherever Yanukovych is located. It would be naïve to believe that this intelligence is not being transferred to Russia.

In July, Dmitriy Salamatin, was appointed as head of the state-owned Ukrspetsexport, Ukraine’s arms exporting agency which has an annual turnover of $1 billion (www.ukrspecexport.com). Salamatin was born in Kazakhstan and worked in Russia from 1991 to 1997. Salamatin is the son-in-law of the former First Deputy Russian Prime Minister, Oleg Soskovets (Segodnya, July 14). Salamatin moved to Ukraine in 1999 and was elected to parliament in 2006 and 2007 in the Party of Regions. In the April 27 riot in parliament over the Sevastopol Black Sea Fleet base extension, Salamatin was seen fighting members of the opposition. During an August 11 altercation in Ukrspetsexport’s Kyiv offices he hit his opponent with a chair (Hazeta po-Ukrainski, August 15).

These examples confirm that Moscow’s demand, as outlined in President Dmitry Medvedev’s August 2009 open letter to the then President, Viktor Yushchenko, to influence Yanukovych’s appointments of the siloviki has been over-fulfilled. These steps will increasingly prevent Ukraine from undertaking a sovereign foreign and security policy.

26.10.10. Constitutionalism and the rule of law in Ukraine

October 13, 2010

Taras Kuzio

Three recent episodes reflect the degree to which the rule of law in Ukraine is under pressure from its already weak position after five years of instability under former President Viktor Yushchenko. This growing pressure on the rule of law comes after President Viktor Yanukovych has been in office for only nine months. On September 14, the Prosecutor-General’s Office concluded that the only person who ordered the murder of journalist Georgi Gongadze in September 2000 was the Interior Minister, Yuriy Kravchenko. Gongadze’s decapitated body was re-buried in such a way for it to be found, as it was in November 2000, leading to what became known as the Kuchmagate crisis.

Kravchenko committed “suicide” in March 2005 on the day he was set to give evidence to the Prosecutor-General’s Office. Kravchenko’s “suicide” has been in doubt ever since as he died from two gunshots to the head. The verdict has been ridiculed by Kravchenko’s friends and foes alike as a whitewash orchestrated by its organizers. Volodymyr Melnykov, General Oleksiy Pukach’s superior in the interior ministry, did not believe that Kravchenko gave the order to Pukach. Pukach admitted murdering Gongadze and was captured last year, after five years in hiding (Komersant-Ukraina, September 27).

Gongadze’s mother and widow both rejected the prosecutor’s findings. Meanwhile, the head of the Presidential Administration, Serhiy Levochkin, supports Kuchma’s innocence, contradicting the stance adopted by the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Hanna Herman (Hazeta po-ukrainski, September 17, Ukrayinska Pravda, September 20).

Kuchma repeated the canard that the Gongadze scandal was a CIA operation to unseat him. CIA agents participated in protests after the disappearance, as Kuchma claimed: “It is an international scandal designed to compromise Ukraine.” US Ambassador, John F.Tefft, rejected the accusations, as did Ambassador Carlos Pasqual when these claims were first made in 2001 (Kyiv Post, September 23).

An additional legal regression was the de facto closure of the investigation of the poisoning of the then opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, in September 2004. The head of the prosecutor’s special team investigating the poisoning, Halyna Klymovych, resigned in March 2010 and gave her first long interview to Ukrayinska Pravda (September 27, 28). Klymovych re-affirmed the conclusion reached by the Prosecutor-General, Oleksandr Medvedko, that Yushchenko had been poisoned –the only occasion when Russia has intervened in a democratic revolution to assassinate an opposition leader. Klymovych resigned from the prosecutor’s office because the “current authorities will do everything to conceal the fact of the poisoning and this objective will be for them a priority” (Ukrayinska Pravda, September 27).

The third –and most important– legal setback was the constitutional court’s decision on October 1, to declare the 2004 constitutional reforms (which transformed Ukraine into a parliamentary system and came into effect following the March 2006 parliamentary elections) as “unconstitutional.” As a consequence of the annulment, Ukraine has returned to the 1996 presidential constitution.

The court’s ruling has thrown Ukraine into constitutional and legal chaos. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) issued a strongly worded statement: “The functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine’ five days later that was voted through by 102 out of 109 members, the highest majority vote ever recorded by PACE” (http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/workingdocs/doc10/edoc12357.htm).

Constitutional-legal chaos arises from four questions following five years of Ukraine being under an “unconstitutional” constitution:

  1. Legislation will need to be amended.
  2. Three elections (2006, 2007, 2010) were held under an “unconstitutional” constitution.
  3. Yanukovych was elected under the 2006 “constitution” for five years but the presidential term was four years under the 1996 constitution.
  4. Parliament was elected in 2007 for five years, but the 1996 constitution provides for a four year parliamentary term.

The court’s ruling and the threat of presidential authoritarianism has for the first time raised the genuine possibility of unity among opposition forces. Yanukovych, the Party of Regions he led in 2003-2010, and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko have supported Ukraine’s return to a presidential system using the same rationale used in the 1990’s: a concentration of power is needed to undertake reforms. They failed to take into account that a presidential system has been synonymous with democratic regression, authoritarianism and weak reforms throughout the CIS. All Central-Eastern European and Baltic post-communist states, that conducted the greatest number of reforms and advanced towards democratic systems and market economies, adopted parliamentary systems. Mikhail Pogrebynsky, Director of the Kyiv Center for Political and Conflict Studies, and an opponent of the Orange political camp, concluded that “Ukraine’s system is moving closer to the Russian system of power” (Christian Science Monitor, October 1). Russian-style presidential power will move Ukraine away from European integration.

Indeed, speaking at the seventh Yalta European Strategy on June 18, Yanukovych did not state that his aim was to seek EU membership, a factor in conveying the wrong signal to European and American elites who were present (Ukrayinska Pravda blog, October 4). A resolution for Ukraine to officially apply for EU membership received only 61 votes (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 6). Ukrainian media sympathetic to the opposition were unanimous in their pessimism about the deterioration in Ukraine-EU relations (Hazeta po-Ukrainski, September 14, Komentari, March 12, May 28, June 18, September 17).

The court’s decision deepens already skeptical views in Brussels and Strasbourg that Yanukovych is disinterested in EU membership. Speaking at Harvard University, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton said: “Ukraine does not see itself in the EU, but sees itself as part of Europe’s identity” (Ukrayinska Pravda, September 28). European Peoples Party (EPP) MP, Michael Haller Gahler, described Ukraine as retreating backwards, “returning to Sovietization” (Ukrayinska Pravda, September 23). In September, the EPP and EU issued critical statements of democratic regression in Ukraine (http://www.epp.eu/press.asp?artid=1447&fullview=1, Ukrayinska Pravda, September 17).

The prosecutor’s ruling on the Gongadze murder enables the Yanukovych administration to control Kuchma, and thereby his son-in-law oligarch, Viktor Pinchyuk, and Lytvyn, who received the position of Parliamentary Chairman and the eponymous bloc, defected to the ruling coalition. Three senior members of the administration have no interest in the truth on the poisoning case emerging: Yanukovych, who in 2004 was Prime Minister, and the former presidential candidate, Sergey Tigipko, who then headed his election campaign, and First Deputy Prime Minister, Andriy Kluyev, who led the authorities “dirty tricks” campaign. Finally, the desire for revenge by Yanukovych for his humiliation in 2004 is an important driving force in the constitutional court reversing the 2004 constitution. 

01.11.10. Survey shows every fifth Ukrainian ready to sell vote

October 22, 2010

KYIV -- A fresh survey suggests that around one in five Ukrainians is willing to sell his or her vote in the upcoming local elections, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The findings emerged from a survey of 2,000 people conducted earlier this month by two Ukrainian nongovernmental organizations, the Democratic Initiatives Fund and OPORA.

Less than one in 10 (8.5 percent) of those surveyed said they think the local elections to be held on October 31 will be fair.

The vast majority of respondents said they expect there to be violations in the elections, but they are divided over whether the irregularities will significantly alter the results of the vote.

Many said they are ready to take part in falsifications themselves -- more than one out of every five respondents said they would be willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder.

"A number of voters are ready to sell their vote for a certain sum," said OPORA civic network head Olha Ajvazovska. "Unfortunately, this category [of people] is large -- it is more than 21 percent. Thus, this number of voters is sufficient for a candidate, using bribing schemes, to create certain advantages for himself and even to actually win an election."

The majority of those who are ready to sell their vote said an acceptable price is some 500 hryvnyas ($60). The main reasons for selling their votes were given as difficult financial circumstances and an indifference to all candidates.

The average monthly salary in Ukraine is less than $300.

Despite the skepticism of the respondents about the elections, a majority said they are likely to vote in the upcoming elections: 47 percent said they will definitely go to the polls and 29 percent said they are "highly likely" to.

The most popular Ukrainian political forces are the ruling Party of Regions, the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party headed by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Communist Party, and Strong Ukraine.

07.11.10. Joint statement by Ukraine’s opposition on elections

November 3,2010


The new government began the erosion of democracy with the elimination of elections and then attacked a major component of the democratic process by curtailing the freedom of speech in all its manifestations. As a result, the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders downgraded Ukraine by 42 places in its 2010 annual index of media freedom. There is no need to add anything. All opposition forces were discriminated in their right to be present in the national and many regional media. The main reason behind the situation is that total control of the mass media by the clan groups in the President’s circle. The people’s understanding of the real situation in the country, in all spheres of life, is deliberately and significantly distorted because of the manipulation of the media.

The violations that give us grounds to conclude that the elections were biased and undemocratic arose before the election campaign with the unlawful postponement of the elections, which, according to the Constitution, should have been held in May. Today it is obvious that the postponement of the voting date was driven by the desire to finalize the formation of administrative resources, to take control over law-enforcement structures, subordinate the judicial system and to rewrite the legislation to satisfy the needs of the Party of Regions and its allies.

The adoption of the Law on Elections of Deputies of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Local Councils and Villages, Town and City Heads was the next stage in the process for systemic vote-rigging. It was designed in the interests of the Party of Regions that acted under the principle of “playing with rules” rather than “playing by the rules.” The Law facilitated the flagrant disproportional representation of the composition of the territorial and district election commissions. In practice, it permitted the President to grab control of the territorial election commissions and their heads, and form exclusive district election commissions that became a major element in facilitating vote-rigging. The completely subordinated law-enforcement agencies provided a mechanism for protecting vote-rigging facilitated by the commissions at different levels.


In the night before polling day, the illegality of the bogus Batkivshchyna party organizations was proved in courts, but it changed nothing. As a result, the largest opposition party Batkivshchyna and other opposition forces were effectively barred from running in Kyiv, Lviv, Kirovograd, Ternopil and some other regions. Thus, millions of citizens were deprived of their right to choose.

Furthermore, for the first time in the history of Ukraine’s independence, the mass printing of false ballot-papers was organized throughout the country.


The campaign itself was marked by strong pressure applied to the opposition parties, their candidates and representatives in election commissions. The most wide-spread trick against undesirable candidates was intimidation of election participants by the law-enforcement agencies, and threats to those opposition candidates working in the state sector (doctors, teachers, functionaries) to deprive them of their jobs. In some towns, there were cases of the authorized detention of mayoral candidates who had a good chance to defeat the Party of Regions’ candidates. In many cases, opposition candidates were pulled out of the electoral race as a result of decisions made by commissions that had an overall majority of government representatives. In general, over two thousand of candidates for deputies, candidates to village, town and city heads were barred from participating in the elections because of repressions by the law-enforcement agencies, or as a result of ordered court decisions, or illegal actions by the subordinated territorial election commissions. Some regional political parties were barred from participation in the elections in the same way, only because they had a good chance to be elected to local councils as a counter to the ruling party. We have the detailed lists of all candidates and parties illegally deprived of their right to participate in the elections, as well as the illegal court decisions that formalized this lawlessness. We are going to publish them.

The abuse of home voting, without proper cause, was also wide-spread. It is an instrument of vote-rigging in Ukraine that first emerged before 2004, and which has now been restored by the government. In some regions, the number of people voting at home sharply increased even in comparison to the second round of the presidential elections 2004.

One could only describe the local elections as “fair and democratic” if unduly biased or in an information vacuum.

The organization of voting on Election Day and after deserves separate assessment. By 10 a.m. on November 2, there is no official information published on the turnout. This is again indicative of the vote-rigging taking place at full pelt all over the country at the level of uncontrolled district and territorial election commissions. In all previous elections there were no such violations.


The current government has put an end to the tradition of fair elections established after the Orange Revolution. It is rolling back democracy in Ukraine and, in the process, is consciously dismantling the mechanism of free and fair elections which it will replace with regular farces offering a foregone result.

We consider these elections to be unfair, and held with mass and systemic vote-rigging which violates the fundamental rights of Ukraine’s citizens for free choice. 59 percent of citizens agree with us, according to an IFES survey, they consider the elections rigged and that is why they did not vote.

According to the same survey, only 8.5 percent of citizens think that the elections are fair. Ukrainian society has passed its verdict.

These local elections are training for, and the trial of systemic vote-rigging to be used during the next parliamentary and presidential elections. If we, Ukrainian and international forces, do not take action now at this early stage, the government will take it as carte-blanche for further attacks against democracy, human rights and freedoms; and for the establishment of authoritarian rule in Ukraine. A rule that is alien both to Ukraine’s people and the whole of Europe.
Complete article:

07.11.10. Yanukovych and the Holodomor

November 2, 2010

Askold S. Lozynskyj

On October 4, 2010, President Yanukovych issued a decree regarding Ukraine’s Taras Shevchenko National Award, which is recognized as the most prestigious award for creative work in the area of cultural development. The decree was largely unnoticed except perhaps by those who continue to expect the worst from Viktor Yanukovych. New presidents in Ukraine routinely redact the procedural issues regarding the award upon coming to office. Viktor Yushchenko made amendments to the award process in force during President Kuchma’s administration. Since additions/deletions are generally of a procedural nature, there was no alert when Viktor Yanukovych issued his revisions.

 Except with this one difference: Yanukovych went beyond procedure. In December 2007 President Yushchenko expanded the subjects for Shevchenko Award consideration by inserting the following language, “works which serve to enlighten the topic of the Holodomor 1932-33…” Apparently this was a major problem for his successor. Viktor Yanukovych decreed to strike the Holodomor reference. He did not address any other substantive issues in the award criteria.

Certainly Yushchenko’s initiative can only be perceived as part of an agenda to enhance the study of the Holodomor. Likewise, Yanukovych’s reaction three years later can only be interpreted as an attempt to undermine that initiative.

Yanukovych’s personal war against the Holodomor has become legendary in Ukraine and beyond its borders. A week ago he bizarrely and rudely did not accompany Canadian Prime Minister Harper to the Holodomor Memorial in Kyiv. Is all this simply sycophantic pandering to Moscow?

Yanukovych’s opening salvo against the Holodomor was delivered on the very day of his inauguration. Reference to the Holodomor was deleted from the presidential website. On April 27, 2010, in Strasbourg, Yanukovych stated to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, “We consider it incorrect and unjust to consider the Holodomor a fact of genocide of a certain people.” He then proceeded to replace highly respected Ihor Yukhnovsky as chair of the National Memorial Institute with communist Valeriy Soldatenko, who not only dates his communist membership well into the period of Leonid Brezhnev and Volodymyr Scherbytsky, but also flaunts the fact that he has not renounced his communist membership to this day. Soldatenko has not only denounced the Holodomor as not being a genocide of the Ukrainian people, but has on more than one occasion mentioned that draft legislation is ready to be introduced in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to repeal Ukraine’s law from November 2006, which declared the Holodomor to have been Genocide.

Yanukovych’s denouncement of the Holodomor has been tendentious and gratuitous. Were he simply passively intellectually opposed to characterizing the Holodomor as genocide, he would not have acted as expeditiously in deleting the website reference; he would not have made a special effort to address PACE only to denounce the Holodomor; and, certainly, he would have replaced Yukhnovsky with a moderate. In all instances he went out of his way to manifest that he was waging and unconditional war on the Holodomor.

Over the past few years Ukraine, together with the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC), has been organizing Holodomor commemorative events at the United Nations in New York. This year the UWC received no signal of any interest in this topic from Ukraine as it had in the past. The UWC on its own then attempted to reserve a conference room at UN headquarters in New York for such an event. Going back and forth over several weeks, the UN Economic and Social Council, with which the UWC has consultative status, declined the UWC’s request ostensibly based upon its opinion that commemorating the Holodomor does not fall within its purview and suggested that the UWC seek the sponsorship of a UN member-state. It should be noted that the head of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs NGO office is a Russian.

The UWC turned to Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the UN. Ambassador Sergeev responded: “The Permanent Mission together with individual activists from Ukrainian organizations in the United States for several months now have been preparing a commemorative assembly at the UN to honor the memory of the victims of the Holodomor, as had been done in prior years. Representatives of the UWC, the UCC, WFUW, Ukrainian National Association, New Wave will be invited for this event.”

The Personal Representative did not include the UWC, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations or the Ukrainian National Association in the planning, leaving us to presume that it, i.e., the Ukrainian government of Yanukovych, will handle all of the arrangements. We’ll see what happens. Hope springs eternal!

13.11.10. Ukrainian Populist Movement in the late 19th and early 20th century

Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian populist movement that emerged in the second half of the 19th century, first in Russian-ruled Ukraine and soon afterwards in Western Ukraine, played a cucial role in the evolution of Ukrainian national life and the formation of modern Ukrainian national identity.

The populists, who included primarily members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, idealized the people (narod), which, practically speaking, meant the peasantry. The main tenets of Ukrainian populism were federalism, the emancipation of the peasantry, and the recognition of the cultural distinctiveness of the Ukrainian people. While some populists became involved in revolutionary activities, the dominant trend was for peaceful change and the majority of populists focused on the "organic work" among the peasants. Initially, this work focused on educational and cultural endeavors, such as Ukrainian Sunday schools for adults and children, village reading rooms, and various publishing activities of such organizations as the Prosvita (Enlightenment) society. Later, in their attempt to help Ukrainians improve their lives through their own resources, populist organizations became involved in economic activities, most notably in the co-operative movement. Populists also played an inportant role in various aspects of social work (including sports, physical-education, and scouting organizations) and health care (such as the temperance movement whose efforts to battle the wide-spread problem of alcoholism among the peasants were particularly effective in Western Ukraine)...

Learn more about the Ukrainian populist movement in the late 19th and early 20th century by visiting: http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/featuredentry.asp or by visiting: http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com and searching for such entries as:

ABOUT IEU: Once completed, the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine will be the most comprehensive source of information in English on Ukraine, its history, people, geography, society, economy, and cultural heritage. With over 20,000 detailed encyclopedic entries supplemented with thousands of maps, photographs, illustrations, tables, and other graphic and/or audio materials, this immense repository of knowledge is designed to present Ukraine and Ukrainians to the world.

At present, only 20% of the entire planned IEU database is available on the IEU site. New entries are being edited, updated, and added daily. However, the successful completion of this ambitious and costly project will be possible only with the financial aid of the IEU supporters. Become the IEU supporter (http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/donor.asp) and help the CIUS in creating the world's most authoritative electronic information resource about Ukraine and Ukrainians!

13.11.10. Ukrainian FEMENists against Putin


Alexander J. Motyl

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, came to Kyiv that day to pursue negotiations with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mykola Azarov, over energy. While policymakers and pundits debated the pros and cons of closer Russo-Ukrainian energy cooperation, FEMEN — a Ukrainian feminist group — staged a symbolically fascinating anti-Putin demonstration in downtown Kyiv (see the video clip here).

Six young women, bare-chested, clad in stylish, tight-fitting jeans, and wearing beribboned wreaths typical of traditional Ukrainian folk costumes, held placards and shouted slogans in front of the capital city’s most famous statue of Lenin, at the foot of Shevchenko Boulevard. The site is witness to periodic tussles between anti-Communists, who detest Lenin and want to deface his image, and Communists, who worship the Father of Communism and want to preserve it.

This time, the Communists were nowhere to be seen. After all, why worry about a few half-naked girls? Little did Ukraine’s Stalinists suspect that FEMEN’s topless protest could be far more destructive than anything the anti-Communists could do. One can always fix or clean a statue. Nudity, on the other hand, is freedom from social constraints par excellence; as such, it stands in diametrical opposition to the dictatorship of the prudish proletariat and Lenin’s baleful totalitarian legacy.


Whether FEMEN actually reflects the views of all of Ukraine is debatable. Public opinion surveys show that significant parts of the population in the southeast of the country might be quite happy with giving Putin “parts of Ukraine.” And FEMEN itself, established in 2008 by a group of Kyiv university students, has hardly become a mass movement. On the other hand, FEMEN probably does reflect the views of significant portions of Ukrainian students and its ability to attract media attention with well publicized happenings has transformed it into an important part of Ukraine’s ongoing symbolic wars.

Significantly, FEMEN has managed to combine several seemingly disparate ideological trends. The group is unquestionably feminist and hopes to shock Ukraine’s straightlaced society and sexist establishment. But it is also openly modern and nationalist, aspiring to a contemporary, independent, and liberal homeland. It has also adopted a progressively broader and more overtly political agenda — beginning in 2009 with actions against sexual harassment at universities, the Miss Universe competition, and sex tourism, then moving to protests against electoral fraud, the absence of women in the Yanukovich-appointed cabinet, and, now, Vladimir Putin.

Committed to “the principles of social awareness and activism, intellectual and cultural development” and “the European values of freedom, equality and comprehensive development of a person irrespective of the gender,” the FEMENists are clearly the intellectual and cultural offspring of the Orange Revolution.

Yanukovich’s Stalinist supporters will consider FEMEN to be one more reason to damn everything Orange. Ukraine’s young people, on the other hand, may take heart. The “Sixties” could finally be coming to Ukraine.

Update. After the protest, the Kyiv city militia has attempted to crack down on FEMEN for “hooliganism.” Since the Kyiv City administration is now in the hands of President Yanukovich's allies, the harassment is obviously an attempt by Yanukovich to kowtow to the Kremlin. The group remains unrepentant, and its leader, Anna Hutsol, stated: “We assert that FEMEN's topless form of protest is an act of civil disobedience and not a form of hooliganism. The FEMEN women's movement has all the legal grounds for conducting protests in any form not forbidden by law and against anyone, whether it's the president of Ukraine or the premier of Russia!” — AJM, Nov 09

Complete article : ehttp://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/new/blogs/motyl

13.11.10. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s support for two Ukrainian NGOs under question

November 4, 2010

Taras Kuzio

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has given grants to two Ukrainian election-monitoring organizations: the well known Committee of Voters of Ukraine (KVU) and the lesser known Opora. KVU obtained $200,000 in 2007 and $140,000 in 2010, while Opora received $100,000 in 2007 and again in 2009. Unfortunately, only funding given to Opora has been money well-spent.

KVU and Opora also received funding from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), but in the case of KVU, a decade-long relationship ended in the first two years following Viktor Yushchenko’s election. The reason was KVU’s financial shenanigans.

Opora grew out of the “black” wing (based on its symbols) of the Pora (It’s Time) youth NGO that modeled itself on Serbia’s Otpor and Georgia’s Kmara. The “yellow” wing of Pora, headed by Vladyslav Kaskiv, was a parody of the Serbian and Georgian youth NGOs, acting more as a vehicle for his political ambitions. Yellow Pora became a political party, but failed to enter parliament in 2006. It succeeded, however, in 2007 as one of nine parties in the Our Ukraine-Self Defense bloc.

After Yanukovych’s election, Pora leader Kaskiv defected to the new administration and joined the Nikolai Azarov government. It seems as though the KVU has also been bought.

The reputation of the KVU, which was stellar during its decade-long cooperation with NDI, deteriorated, ironically, during the Yushchenko presidency, when Ukraine held three free elections. Suspicions of corruption first surfaced during the pre-term March 2009 Ternopil oblast council election, which was endorsed by the KVU as “free” despite numerous, significant infringements. The KVU worked with Presidential Administration head Viktor Baloga, who used the Ternopil elections to ensure that the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc received poor results (and in the same breath permitting the nationalist Svoboda party to win).

The link between KVU and Baloga was confirmed when KVU leader Ihor Popov was appointed deputy head of the Presidential Secretariat immediately after the Ternopil elections. The final proof of this relationship was evident this year when Popov was elected leader of the United Center party that Baloga established in 2008 to compete with Our Ukraine to become the president’s party of power.

Popov’s replacement as head of KVU, Oleksandr Chernenko, gave the October 31 local elections a similar clean bill of health four hours before the polls closed, claiming they were held in a “free atmosphere.” He was already insisting to the mass media that the elections could not be declared illegitimate (also before the polls closed).

This statement points to Chernenko’s biased work on behalf of the authorities, Ukrainian experts and journalists believe. Opora, other Ukrainian and foreign NGOs, the Ukrainian opposition, the U.S. Embassy and the Council of Europe, as well European Parliamentarians from all the major political groups (including the Socialists, with whom the Party of Regions signed a memorandum of cooperation last month), were highly critical of the October 31 elections and believed they were a step back from the free presidential elections held in January-February.

Even the Odesa branch of KVU stated that the local elections in their city had a greater number of violations than the infamous fraud in the 2004 elections that sparked the Orange Revolution. The Odesa election commission committed egregious violations that led to a “scandalous situation” in the city, Odesa’s KVU stated.

The Charles Stewart Mott foundation should investigate this blaring contradiction between the corrupted KVU and objective and unbiased Opora. The KVU’s reporting of the October 31 local elections shows that only Opora has proven that it is worthy of U.S. assistance.

23.11.10. Janukovytj afviser energiindrømmelser til Rusland (eng.)

That’s what a biting satire of the Ukrainian president on Russia’s state-controlled Channel One, the country’s most watched television station, suggests. Aired on Sunday, October 31, on the “Big Difference” comedy program, the skit — titled “Viktor Almighty” — depicts Yanukovich as an outright buffoon. Channel One’s Viktor speaks Russian with a comically broad Ukrainian accent, takes great pride in nailing a portrait of himself to the wall, orders a bowl of borscht, a bottle of vodka, a cigar, and a top hat as his first acts in office, and, after decreeing that all requests from citizens be made in writing, finds himself inundated with Post-its.

Were Channel One not state-controlled, the show would be little more than a harmless satire reminiscent of Saturday Night Live’s depictions of George W. Bush. But the Kremlin either ordered the production or determined the timing or both. Moreover, the satire comes on the heels of a July documentary on Russia’s NTV station criticizing the Kremlin’s erstwhile buddy, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, for being a dictator: not coincidentally, after he had developed a backbone in his relations with Russia.

The Yanukovich satire — which may have been sparked by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s unconcealed pique at failing to persuade the Ukrainians to agree to another round of energy concessions during his October 27 visit to Kyiv — is actually far more damning. It’s one thing for dictators (in this case, the Putin-Medvedev duo) to call a dictator a dictator. It’s quite another for them to make fun of an aspiring dictator. Clearly, the Kremlin is displeased with Yanukovich, and it attacked him where he’s most vulnerable: his image.

Yanukovich has been plagued by his real and perceived cloddishness at least since the run-up to the fraudulent presidential elections that sparked the 2004 Orange Revolution. When a protestor threw an egg at him, the burly Yanukovich collapsed like a diva on stage (see the video here). He then spoke darkly of an assassination attempt, while most Ukrainians laughed. To add insult to injury, both eggs and chickens became anti-Yanukovich symbols during the Orange upheaval.

While in opposition, Yanukovich’s missteps were confined to serial malapropisms on the order of confusing the famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova with his billionaire backer Rinat Akhmetov. Although the 2010 presidential elections went by without any major blunders, the next big misstep occurred at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kyiv on May 17. As he and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev paid their respects, a gust of wind blew a wreath onto Yanukovich’s head at just the moment he was bowing before it. The incident became the stuff of ridicule on the Internet and, unsurprisingly, found its way into the Channel One satire.

Yanukovich’s ever-cool spokeswoman, Hanna Herman, dismissed the show as a bagatelle: “One must view all this very simply and with a smile. I wouldn’t make anything special out of this.” In contrast, the deputy head of the pro-Yanukovich Party of Regions’ parliamentary fraction lost his cool while making a telling slip of the tongue: “No one will succeed in getting the presidents of two fraternal peoples to quarrel: Puti- … no, I mean Medvedev and Yanukovich. No one will succeed in driving a wedge. It won’t work! It won’t work!”

Perhaps, but Yanukovich has got to be worried.

First, his mentors and protectors, Putin and Medvedev, are obviously unhappy with him, even though he’s done everything possible to appease them. Although the good news is that Ukraine’s president may finally be learning to be Ukraine’s president, the bad news — for Yanukovich — is that, after placing all his eggs in the Kremlin’s basket, he’s now got egg on his face.

Second, the fact that the skit was produced by Russian television undermines Yanukovich’s legitimacy with his electoral base, which gets most of its opinions from the Russian media. Since the satire was aired during Ukraine’s local elections on October 31, the Kremlin was obviously telling Yanukovich that he better watch out.

Third, some of his fair-weather pals in the Party of Regions may have begun sharpening their knives. Parliamentary deputy Vladyslav Lukyanov effectively defended the satire, calling it a “sign of tolerance” that proves Russia is a democracy, while Vadym Kolesnichenko, a rabidly pro-Moscow Regionnaire, claimed that “no one was laughing at our president.” With friends like these, the real Viktor must be thinking, who needs enemies?

Yanukovich may now be caught between a rock and a hard place. If the satire portends a genuine worsening of relations with Russia, Ukraine’s president will have to rethink his entire foreign and domestic policy. And that won’t be easy. His supporters venerate the Kremlin and will not take kindly to possible overtures to the West or to Ukraine’s national democrats. By the same token, after enduring eight months of Yanukovich’s relentlessly anti-Ukrainian policies, the national democrats are in no mood for compromise: they will either want to see him squirm or insist on a very high price in exchange for their support.

Either way, Yanukovich will be weakened. Having accumulated vast powers, he will be less capable of ruling effectively — which means that factional fights within his own camp will increase, the oligarchs who fund him may start thinking twice about his viability, the opposition should find it easier to join forces, and Ukraine’s politics will become even more dysfunctional. Ironically, it’s the Europeans who, now as in the past, could help stabilize the Kyiv government by offering Ukraine realistic prospects for EU membership — but, of course, won’t.


23.11.10. Covetous Putin calls the sovereign nation 'Little Russia'

November 18, 2010

Jeffrey T. Kuhner

Moscow is on the march. Vladimir Putin's Russia is the most destabilizing - and reckless - great power on the world stage. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia could have become a stable democracy at peace with its neighbors.

Instead, Mr. Putin is erecting a Great Russian empire. He has imposed a brutal police state at home. Journalists routinely are killed. Critics and dissidents are jailed. Media freedoms and opposition parties are under assault. A gangster elite runs the Kremlin, plundering the country's vast wealth.

Russia has become a rogue state. Mr. Putin's aim is to make Moscow the center of an anti-American, anti-Western axis. Russia has waged a genocidal war in Chechnya. It has de facto annexed the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It has reduced Belarus to an economic vassal. It menaces the Baltic States. Moscow asserts a sphere of influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus. It has sold vital missile and nuclear technology to Iran's mullahs. It has close ties with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

Yet the Russian bear seeks an even bigger prize: Ukraine. This nation of 46 million, whose size is that of Germany and Britain combined, is of vital geopolitical importance - to both Russia and the West. Ukraine literally means borderland. Throughout the centuries, hostile neighbors - Russia, Poland, Lithuania - have sought to control Ukraine's rich resources and minerals. Because of its geographic location, Ukraine's fate has been to serve as a bridge between Asia and Europe; it straddles the civilizational fault line separating West and East. This is Ukraine's curse and blessing.

Mr. Putin understands that his imperial ambitions ultimately can be achieved only if Ukraine is subjugated. Russia with Ukraine resembles America - a vast continental superpower. Without it, Russia is more like Canada - a large country mostly covered in snow.

Moreover, a democratic and prosperous Ukraine is a dagger aimed at the heart of the Putin regime. It will serve as a model for its northern Slavic cousins to imitate - a viable, attractive alternative to Mr. Putin's barbarism. Hence, for Moscow, Ukraine must be smashed; its experiment in independence must be subverted.

Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, is a political battleground pitting pro-Russian forces against pro-Western nationalists. President Viktor Yanukovych is trying to roll back the clock to pre-Orange Revolution days. In 2004, backed by the Kremlin, he tried to steal the election, sparking street protests that culminated in the Orange Revolution. Earlier this year, he won elections - this time, fairly - on a platform of economic renewal and national reconciliation.

Mr. Yanukovych, however, has again proved the adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. He is a Russophile thug who is slowly forging an authoritarian state. His government has centralized power, repealing amendments to the constitution - without public debate or any kind of vote - that substantially weaken parliament. Media censorship is on the rise. Journalists critical of the regime have disappeared mysteriously. In recent regional elections, opposition parties were harassed. Ballot tampering and voter fraud were rampant.

Mr. Yanukovych's base is in the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine - the Sovietized industrial east. His Party of Regions seeks to make Russian an official language; in fact, its website refuses to use Ukrainian. He has put joining NATO and the European Union on the back burner - bowing to Moscow's demands. Slowly, but surely, he is splitting Kyiv from the West. In short, he is Mr. Putin's poodle.

The result is that Ukraine is a sovereign country in name only. Moscow funds Mr. Yanukovych's Party of Regions and numerous Ukrainian think tanks and media outlets. The Kremlin has issued thousands of Russian passports in the Crimea, thereby creating Russian "citizens" who in the future may need "protection" from imaginary threats in Kyiv - repeating the pattern established in Georgia. Also, the lease for Russia's Black Sea Fleet, based in Sevastopol - set to expire in 2017 - was extended until 2042. Ukraine is being transformed into a Russian protectorate.

Mr. Putin despises Ukrainian nationalism. At a 2008 NATO meeting, the Russian strongman told then-President George W. Bush, "Ukraine is not a real country." Rather, Mr. Putin said, it was a "gift" from Moscow, whose major territories formed part of czarist Russia. He publicly refers to Ukraine as "Little Russia." His comments are not only insulting and disrespectful, but belligerent.

It is high time Washington takes notice. President Obama's efforts to press the "reset button" in relations with the Kremlin have failed, emboldening Mr. Putin's fascist regime. Ukraine's descent into Putinism would be a tragedy of historical proportions. Contrary to Moscow's propaganda, Ukraine is not a regional outpost of Russian civilization; rather, it is part of the European main - a long-suffering nation with a distinct cultural identity rooted in Western values, a separate language and unique Slavic heritage.

Ukraine is the eastern ramparts of the West. It is a strategic bulwark against Russian expansionism. It is not "Little Russia" but a nation in its own right. America cannot turn a blind eye. We must slap the bear down and tell Mr. Putin unequivocally to keep his greedy paws off Ukraine.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is president of the Edmund Burke Institute. He recently spoke in Ottawa at the annual conference

 23.11.10. New book: Soviet Secret documents on OUN-UPA and Ukrainian armed resistance


The "Personal Files" of Stalin and Molotov on the National-Liberation Struggle in Western Ukraine (1944-1948)

"Особые папки" Сталіна і Молотова про національно-визвольну боротьбу в Західній Україні у 1944-1948

Authors: Iaroslav Dashkevych and Vasyl Kuk

594 pp./ $54.95 (hardcover)

Order at: http://tinyurl.com/ciuspress-papky-stalina

Published by the NANU Institute of Ukrainian Archeography and Source Studies in Lviv, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, and the Lviv Institute of National Memory, the book "Personal Files of Stalin and Molotov…" is a collection of 131 Soviet documents preserved in the State Archives of the Russian Federation in Moscow and dealing with various aspects of the Ukrainian national-liberation struggle in Western Ukraine in the years 1944-1948. These formerly unpublished secret documents, collected and prepared personally for Joseph Stalin by the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs Lavrentii Beria, were meant to provide the Soviet dictator with a systematic source of information concerning the struggle of the Ukrainian anti-Soviet armed resistance, in particular the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and the repressive measures of the Soviet government, army, and secret police (NKVD) against the Ukrainian insurgents and population.

In its essence, this collection of documents represents and "extract" summary of the major events of the understudied and, in fact, practically unknown war between the Soviet forces and anti-Soviet insurgents, that took place on the Ukrainian territory in the last stages and after the conclusion of World War II. These documents also contain an extensive statistical data that reveals the staggering proportions and scope of this war. They illuminate both the major operations and tactics used by the insurgents in their military, terrorist, and sabotage activities as well as the scope and methods of the Soviet campaign of terror against the fighters of the OUN-UPA and the Ukrainian civilian population. As such, the book represents an invaluable resource for historians and readers interested in World War II and the Ukrainian national-liberation movement.

The documents in the book are published in their original Russian-language versions. The introduction and commentaries are in Ukrainian.

07.12.10. Ukraine police break up tax protest camp

December 3 2010

Roman Olearchyk in Kiev [Kyiv]

Experts say reform is vital to bring the nation’s economy of the shadows. But protesters said the government’s tax reform proposal would push them further into the black market. They say it unfairly increased the tax burden on them – albeit from a very low base – while cutting taxes for large companies, including those controlled by Mr Yanukovich’s oligarch backers.

Ukraine police on Friday cleared protesters from Kiev’s main square, dismantling a dozen tents set up two weeks ago by demonstrators representing small businesses that oppose the government’s tax reforms and austerity measures.

Appearing just before daybreak, elite militia troops escorted maintenance crews who tore down the makeshift camp protected by barricades on the site of the 2004 Orange Revolution.

The protesters, who had spent the night under canvas despite freezing conditions, showed little resistance but later called for a new wave of protests next week against the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich.

They also asked opposition parties who seek snap parliamentary elections to join a broad front against Mr Yanukovich, who is accused of backsliding on democracy and press freedom since taking over as president in February.

On Friday, Mr Yanukovich defended the decision to clear the protests, saying: “The tent city was taken down [legally] in accordance with a court ruling; Kiev city administration officials are now setting up a Christmas tree [there].”

With his popularity plunging, Mr Yanukovich sought to neutralise the protests in recent days. But it is not clear if Friday’s move will break the resolve of his opponents, or invigorate them. Protests erupted last month in cities across the country, with crowds ranging from a thousand to as many as 20,000, as cash-strapped citizens who make their living from small businesses took to the streets.

Complete article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/31e2a582-fee3-11df-ae87-00144feab49a.html#axzz17Bt5fqA7

07.12.10. Russia and Ukraine settle dispute over gas

November 30 2010

Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv

Russia and Ukraine have reached a settlement over a dispute involving billions of dollars' worth of natural gas, bringing a controversial gas trader back into the centre of the supply chain to Ukraine and possibly other European markets.


Tom Mayne, a researcher at London-based transparency watchdog Global Witness, said: "It would be a big step backward if Rosukrenergo was to return. The case has never been made for why a structure such as Rosukrenergo was needed in the first place. For the EU to secure its energy supply, there has to be predictability and transparency."

While serving as prime minister in late 2007 to early 2009, Ms Tymoshenko - now an opposition leader - repeatedly questioned the transparency of Rosukrenergo as an intermediary between state-controlled companies in the multibillion-dollar gas trade between Kiev and Moscow.

Serhiy Lyovochkin, Mr Yanukovich's chief of staff, denies Ms Tymoshenko's allegations that he, Mr Yanukovich and Kiev's energy minister, Yuriy Boyko, are de facto beneficiaries of Rosukrenergo. Mr Boyko, who formerly served as a board member of Rosukrenergo, has declined to respond to inquiries.

Mr Yanukovich became president in February after narrowly beating Ms Tymoshenko. Rosukrenergo has during his tenure won a series of court rulings in Ukraine and international arbitration, ordering Naftogaz to return the disputed gas volumes.

Ms Tymoshenko claims that Ukraine's government did not make an honest effort to win the court cases. The charge is denied by current Ukrainian officials.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian parliamentary investigative commission concluded this month that Gazprom had played a double game against Kiev in the dispute, displaying elements of "blackmail".

Officials at Gazprom refused to respond to the allegations. But the Russian gas company has long coveted control over Ukraine's vast gas pipeline system. Most of its European bound exports flow through it.

Mr Yanukovich has repeatedly stated this year that Ukraine would not give up control of its pipeline, but rather sought to bring in investment for modernisation and expansion efforts through a three-way consortium that included Gazprom and EU companies.

But Dmitry Marunich, a Kiev-based energy analyst, said the policies of Ukraine's leadership, including its "clear and anti-Ukrainian position in defending Rosukrenergo's interest first and foremost, is clearly weakening Naftogaz".

"In losing these gas stockpiles to Rosukrenergo, Naftogaz will de facto struggle more to pay monthly gas import bills to Gazprom, giving the Russian side more leverage and a stronger chance of gaining majority control over Ukraine's pipeline in the near future," Mr Marunich said.

Complete article:

07.12.10. Ukraine to chair the OSCE in 2013

23 November 2010

Ukraine will hold the OSCE Chairmanship in 2013, foreign ministers from the 56 OSCE participating States decided today.

The decision was taken by the required consensus in a silence procedure.

Kazakhstan chairs the OSCE in 2010, and Lithuania will chair the Organization in 2011. Ireland will hold the 2012 OSCE Chairmanship.

The Chairperson-in-Office is the foreign minister of the country that holds the Chairmanship. Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister and Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev is the current Chairperson-in-Office.

"I sincerely congratulate Ukraine on the occasion of being awarded the esteemed OSCE Chairmanship in 2013. We wish our Ukrainian partners and friends success in the implementation of this responsible mission and the proper continuation of efforts of previous Chairmanships to strengthen and develop the OSCE in light of new geopolitical realities," Saudabayev said.

"The OSCE Summit in Astana, which will take place in just seven days, will be an exceptionally important step in this direction, and we are looking forward to productive work with all our partners in the OSCE to agree truly historic decisions of this top-level meeting."

07.12.10. Ukraine leader pushes triangular partnership



BRUSSELS - In a strong defense of his rapprochement with Moscow, Ukraine's president, Viktor F. Yanukovich, said Monday that his policy had bolstered Europe's security, improved all-round cooperation with Russia and consigned to history the recent disruption of gas supplies to Europe.

After his first meeting with the European Union, Mr. Yanukovich contrasted past disputes with Russia with the way in which he said Ukraine is now working - "in the spirit of partnership in the triangle of Russia-Europe-Ukraine."

Mr. Yanukovich's visit to Brussels came nine months after he came to power and began a hasty reconciliation with Moscow, striking a deal over gas transit and extending the lease of Russia's Black Sea naval base.

At the time, there were worries that the change of Ukrainian leadership would drag the country away from the European Union, and since the election the bloc has expressed worries about worsening human rights in Ukraine.

But at the meeting Monday in Brussels, the European Union sought to encourage reform in Ukraine, saying it hoped to complete by mid-2011 talks on a free trade deal and other ties with the country.

It also offered an plan toward visa liberalization - a move that would let Ukrainians travel more freely within the E.U. and would be a significant prize for the government in Kiev - though no clear timetable on requirements might be relaxed.

Ukraine, which has been independent since the collapse of the Soviet Union almost two decades ago, borders four E.U. countries and is a vital energy corridor.

But, having admitted 12 new nations to the E.U. since 2004, the bloc is careful not to give promises of membership to Ukraine, a country of 46 million people that was struggling economically even before the financial crisis drove it into the arms of the International Monetary Fund.

Speaking to reporters from three newspapers in Brussels on Monday, Mr. Yanukovich said that improved Ukrainian relations with Moscow were "a matter of principal importance."

"I am certain," he said, "that first of all, this is related to stability in Eurasia and this brings a positive benefit, not only in terms of energy security but extends as far as Euro-Atlantic security is concerned."

Referring to a meeting of NATO allies and Russia last week in Portugal, where agreement was reached on a joint missile-defense plan, he said, "In many respects the result of the Lisbon summit depended on Ukraine's position."

While Ukraine has been improving its ties with Moscow, European nations have also seen better relations with Russia this year. The most notable development has been a significant rapprochement between Russia and Poland.

In a sign of greater cooperation, a separate meeting also took place Monday between the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers and the European commissioner for energy.

The Russian energy minister, Sergei I. Shmatko, told reporters that transit of Russian gas through Ukraine could be relied on and that the interruptions seen in the winters of 2005-2006 and 2008-2009 would not be repeated.

Asked about energy cooperation, Mr. Yanukovich criticized the proposed Southstream pipeline project, which would transport Russian natural gas to the Black Sea, Bulgaria and then to western Europe, bypassing Ukraine.

"In our view it is an unfair challenge brought by our partners, Russia and the E.U."

Mr. Yanukovich acknowledged that the desire for such a network was prompted "by the unpredictability of Ukraine's behavior in gas supply to Europe in 2006 and 2008."

"But," he added, "we have already answered that question. That question is consigned to history."

Mr. Yanukovich defended the idea of closer cooperation with Gazprom, the huge Russian energy company, over the modernization of Ukraine's pipeline network, rejecting suggestions that Ukraine's Naftagas could be swallowed by Gazprom.

Concerns about rights within Ukraine also came up during the meeting. At a press conference in Brussels on Monday, both the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, highlighted concerns over human rights and freedom of the media in Ukraine.

"People can talk freely in the way they were able to talk before," said the Ukrainian president. "When the opposition claims that some freedoms are shrinking, my answer is always quite simple: I tell them, 'Why don't you provide us with an example of what has changed in 2010?"' However, he promised to improve the law in place before a recent regional election over which the E.U. raised concerns.

Referring to protests in Ukraine on Monday against a new tax code, Mr. Yanukovich said that the new rules were meant to address a shadow economy that accounted to 40 to 50 percent of the total. "We now have a whole generation of officials and bureaucrats who have created their business on the basis of corruption," he said.

Finally, asked how long it would take for Ukraine to become a member of the E.U., Mr. Yanukovich said Ukraine was still unclear how long the road to membership would be. "The main thing is to proceed along that road," he said.


07.12.10. Documenting a tragedy

Nov 24, 2010

David Marples

This week, Ukrainians worldwide are commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-33, known as the Holodomor (Death by Hunger).

In the period 2005-2009, when Viktor Yushchenko was president of Ukraine, several archival collections on the Famine-Holodomor of 1932-33 were made available to researchers, which supplemented earlier information gathered mainly from eyewitness reports. Perhaps the most important of these were reports from the Soviet secret police files (then called the OGPU, from 1934, the NKVD).

With the demise of the Yushchenko government in the 2010 presidential elections, the authorities have done a U-turn on the Famine question. The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, has custody of the OGPU records. Under the new leadership of Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, files are no longer freely disseminated, and the new president Viktor Yanukovych has denied that the Famine was an act of Genocide. On the contrary, Yanukovych appears to adhere to the Russian perspective that famines were a general phenomenon across the Soviet grain growing regions in 1932, including the Volga region, Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and even Belarus.

It is true that Famine was widespread in the spring and summer of 1932, but many events that took place later in the year, and in the brutal year of 1933 were unique to Ukraine and the North Caucasus, particularly the Kuban region, which was composed of about 60% Ukrainians. And this is evident from the OGPU documents released over the past two decades.

It is well known that the great upheaval of collectivization and the removal of richer (“kulak”) families had a devastating impact on Soviet farms. The subsequent imposition of grain quotas by Stalin’s regime was to ensure that deliveries were transported to the towns or the Far East before the families could feed themselves.

A widespread drought in 1931 exacerbated the situation, but it did not lead directly to Famine. In theory farms can feed themselves. But they were not allowed to. Not only grain was confiscated from Ukrainian villages, but also seed grain (såsæd), and subsequently meat, potatoes, and other crops as a penalty for failing to meet grain deliveries.

Kaganovich devised the idea of a “blackboard” for those villages in North Caucasus that failed to meet quotas. They were then isolated, trading ended, and no one was allowed to enter or leave. The “blackboard” was soon extended to the Ukrainian SSR.

Stalin, together with his associates [Vyacheslav] Molotov and [Lazar] Kaganovich, railed against Ukrainian party and government leaders (Stanislav Kosior and Vlas Chubar) for their weakness and failure to take more ruthless measures. Though Ukraine’s grain quota was twice reduced, it was still well beyond farmers’ capacity to meet. Therefore the Soviet leadership took several measures calculated to transform a severe situation into a catastrophe.

First, Ukrainian leaders were bypassed. Instead, in November 1932, Molotov led a Commission to Ukraine and Kaganovich to the North Caucasus to impose order. In January 1933, Stalin sent a personal emissary, Pavel Postyshev with full authority in Ukraine as well as Vsevolod Balytsky, who took over the republican OGPU. While Postyshev used the army and local activists to take “hidden” supplies from the villages, cordoning off and starving villages that failed to meet quotas, Balytsky instituted mass repressions from early 1933 onward on the grounds that a mass uprising of Ukrainian nationalists had been planned for the spring of 1933 with the aid of outside forces from Poland.
The consequences were not merely mass starvation, but wholesale arrests, deportations, and executions that did not occur elsewhere in the USSR.

In January, the OGPU reported 436 “terrorist acts” in Ukraine during the grain procurement campaign. About 38,000 arrests had been made, and 391 “anti-Soviet, kulak, counter-revolutionary groups” had been uncovered. Over 6,600 arrests had been made on collective farms, mostly comprised of the farms’ leadership. By January, over 8,000 had been dispatched to concentration camps.

By mid-February, the situation had escalated. The OGPU set up a “shock-operational group” in 200 districts of Ukraine and at railways stations and border crossings. It sent word to Stalin that “we are clashing with a single, carefully elaborated plan for an organized armed uprising in Ukraine by the spring of 1933, with the goal of removing Soviet power” and setting up an independent, capitalist, Ukrainian state. Needless to say, these groups had to be eradicated and thousands were subsequently deported.

No serious evidence of a planned uprising has ever emerged. Stalin was afraid of “losing Ukraine” as he wrote to Kaganovich and saw plots and plotters everywhere. Balytsky chose to feed his fertile imagination.

The repression of Ukraine’s villages led to a mass exodus of men-folk while those remaining behind simply starved. In February 1933 alone, about 85,000 peasants had fled the Ukrainian countryside. The vast majority were detained at the border and returned to their villages, or else arrested and sent to labor camps. Border crossings from North Caucasus to Ukraine, and from Ukraine into Belarus and Russia were closed. The OGPU noted that these had been escape routes in 1932 and were not about to make the same mistake again. It urged the rooting out of those peasants who had managed to get laboring jobs in the cities.

The OGPU documented the starvation in turgid accounts that nonetheless allow the reader some insights into the situation. Though some reports attribute starvation to failure to work sufficient hours or poor collective farm construction, others acknowledge that even those who had worked hard were starving.

One report from Kyiv region in late February 1933—based on 40% of the districts--noted that over 210,000 people were starving and an additional 12,800 had already died. In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the regional authorities proposed on February 28 to set up nurseries to feed 70,000 children, 50,000 pre-school-age children, and 300,000 adults.

The scale of the tragedy, in what had been the most productive grain-growing republic of both the Russian Empire and the 1920s USSR, is hard to fathom. The Italian Consul in Kharkiv (which remained Ukraine’s capital until 1934) reported that some 40-50 percent of peasants had died and estimated the death toll at around 9 million.

But we do not know the death toll. No one was counting the bodies, many of which lay for days unburied or were dumped into mass graves.

Starvation and repressions achieved one of Stalin’s expressed goals: to bring the errant Ukrainian republic into the Soviet fold. The policy of developing Ukrainian culture and language—initiated in the 1920s—was ended and its chief proponent, Mykola Skrypnyk, committed suicide in July 1933.

The Purges of the 1930s later removed practically all the perpetrators of the Famine at the republican level. Postyshev, Stalin’s local plenipotentiary, was executed in February 1939. The entire leadership of the Ukrainian Communist Party was eliminated. Depopulated villages were refilled with families from other regions. The Famine was then systematically concealed from the public and the outside world for the next 54 years.

The late James E. Mace called Ukraine a “post-genocidal society.” This is a pertinent epithet for “Eastern Ukraine,” or Soviet Ukraine as it existed in 1932-33, which never fully recovered and where present-day residents still have problems coming to terms with the crimes committed in 1932-33 because essentially this heartland of Ukraine was systematically “denationalized” and eradicated by the Soviet regime.

David R. Marples is author of Heroes and Villains: Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2008).

07.12.10. 4,890,000 total losses concludes Holodomor demography research team

The 2010 Annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture was delivered by Ukrainian-American demographer Oleh Wolowyna at the University of Toronto on 9 November. The presentation, titled “Demographic Assessment of the Holodomor Within the Context of the 1932–1933 Famine in the USSR,” was notable for the solid treatment of its two main points. Firstly, it established a thoroughly credible figure for Holodomor mortality, and secondly, it demonstrated clearly that the famine conditions in Ukraine during the year 1933 were exceptional compared to other parts of the USSR.

The former addresses a long-standing need to determine a fact-based ‘consensus’ figure for the number of Holodomor victims, while the latter roundly refutes the claims of Russian (and some Ukrainian) politicians and historians that the situation in Ukraine in 1933 was not substantially different than that of other Soviet republics.

The Lecture was sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies, and the Toronto Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. This event has been held every year since 1998, when James Mace delivered the inaugural lecture.

The speaker began with some background information about his work on a Holodomor research project that started in 2008 with a small group of demographers (including Omelian Rudnytsky, Nataliia Levchuk, and Pavlo Shevchuk) at the Institute of Demography, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. His lecture presentation was, in fact, co-authored with Rudnytsky and Levchuk.

In dealing with Holodomor mortality, Dr. Wolowyna first underlined the need for a solid figure for Famine victims and stated that the poorly-formed 10 million figure recently in vogue has actually had a negative impact on the credibility of the Holodomor case. As an example he cited the difficulties encountered by the Ukrainian World Congress at the UN, where it has NGO representative status, when challenged to substantiate the 10 million figure for Holdomor deaths that it had been citing.

The speaker took great care to clarify the definition used by the research team for Holodomor losses and the methodology it employed to arrive at its figures. The former was summed up as “’additional’ deaths due to hunger versus all deaths” in the period 1932–1934 within the Ukrainian SSR. These represent direct losses. Indirect losses, specifically lost births, are a separate issue that should be treated distinctly. The methodology used took the Soviet censuses of 1926 and 1939 as start and end points. After “adjustments” to the figures for these two “pillars,” the team then did a year-by-year population reconstruction based on the number of births and deaths (and factoring in migration figures).

The final figure reached for direct Holodomor losses in Ukraine came to 3,902,700  — 100,700 in 1932, 3,597,500 in 1933, and 204,500 in 1934. This was well within the range of other scholarly estimates of direct Holodomor mortality, which had been noted earlier by the speaker (with the gamut running from 2.6 to 5.2 million). Dr. Wolowyna cited the indirect losses (i.e., lost births) for that period as 988,000, resulting in a figure of 4,890,700 for total losses.

The presentation also examined how this fared with famine mortality in other parts of the USSR. A comparison of figures for direct losses per 1,000 population was particularly revealing, as it showed that in 1933—the main famine year—Ukraine’s famine mortality rate was 118/1,000 compared to 22/1,000 for Russia overall and 45/1,000 for Southern Russia, the agricultural region of the Russian SFSR (which included the heavily-Ukrainian populated Kuban) that experienced that republic’s most significant famine losses. The speaker also displayed a graph for mortality in Ukraine, Southern Russia and Belarus that showed the figures for Ukraine to be exceptional and much higher than in other parts of the Soviet Union (with the exception of Kazakhstan, where the famine had its own particular dynamic).

The speaker presented additional tables and graphs (e.g., “Life Expectancy at Birth”) that rounded out the demographical profile of Ukraine and the USSR during the famine years. He also went on to raise the question of whether the Famine in Ukraine was genocide, citing degrees, statements, and actions that present the case for such a designation. He noted, however, that this was not his area of specialization and that his overarching concern was to “build bridges between the demographic data and the historical record.”

Dr. Wolowyna and his colleagues plan to continue their research and will be publishing some of their results in the near future. They plan to investigate famine losses in the Soviet Union by nationality, as well as estimate more precisely Holodomor losses in the Kuban region. The research plan also includes a detailed analysis of Holodomor losses in Ukraine down to the oblast level.  In time, their research materials, like data and unique scanned documents, will be posted on the Internet and deposited at the Harvard University Library, where they will be available for consultation and further research.

Total losses (direct and indirect) by republic, 1932‒1934 (in thousands)


Direct losses

Lost births

Total losses




          S. Russia

















































 Andrij Makuch
CIUS Toronto Office

The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) is a leading centre of Ukrainian studies outside Ukraine that conducts research and scholarship in Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian studies. If you would like more information on the Institute, please visit our website at www.cius.ca or contact Dr. Bohdan Klid at (780) 492-2972; cius@ualberta.ca.

Årligt får Ukraine 5 til 8 milliarder dollars i pengeoverførsler fra gæstearbejdere, der officielt opholder sig uden for landets grænser, blev det oplyst på en pressekonference af chefen for Den Internationale Organisation for Migration i Ukraine Manfred Profazi og national koordinator for den Internationale Arbejdsorganisation i Ukraine Vasyl Kostrytsya skriver UNIAN.

"Sidste år modtog Ukraine omkring 5 mia. dollars fra vandrende arbejdstagere udenfor Ukraine", sagde Profazi. Kostrytsya tilføjede, at før finanskrisen var det beløb, ukrainske arbejdere sendte fra udlandet til deres familier i Ukraine, på omkring 8 mia. dollars.

Ifølge Profazi indtager pengeoverførslerne fra vandrende arbejdstagere 2. pladsen i landets samlede pengestrøm.

"Det anslås, at migranter i 2009 har overført omkring 414 milliarder dollars til deres hjemlande, og dette beløb er blevet fordoblet på 10 år," - sagde han. Formand for Den Internationale Organisation for Migration i Ukraine, sagde, at indvandring kan gavne både migranternes hjemlande, og det land, de arbejder i, men kun hvis der er en effektiv styring af migrationsstrømmene.

"Væksten i pengeoverførsler er en manifestation af denne positive sammenhæng mellem migration og udvikling af landet, fordi ifølge Verdensbanken skønner, at en stigning i  pengeoverførsler med 10% fører til et fald på 3,5% i den del af befolkningen, som lever under fattigdomsgrænsen" - sagde Profazi. Kostrytsya tilføjede, at den globale økonomiske krise har ført til lavere indkomster og som følge deraf - en nedgang i pengeoverførslerne.

"Både Verdensbanken, IMF, Den Internationale Organisation for Migration og Den Internationale Arbejdsorganisation, OSCE ser disse pengeoverførsler som en af de vigtigste kilder til finansiering af de nationale økonomier i lande, hvorfra migranterne kommer," - sagde den nationale koordinator for den Internationale Arbejdsorganisation i Ukraine.

FN's Generalforsamling har på anbefaling fra Det Økonomiske og Sociale Råd udråbt 18. december som International migrant dag. På denne dag i 1990 vedtoges Den Internationale Konvention om alle vandrende arbejdstageres og deres familiers rettigheder. UP

22.12.10. Ukraine to open Chernobyl nuclear plant to tourists


Kiev, Ukraine (AP)  Want a better understanding of the world's worst nuclear disaster? Come tour the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Beginning next year, Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday.

Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a large swath of northern Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people were resettled from areas contaminated with radiation fallout in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Related health problems still persist.The so-called exclusion zone, a highly contaminated area within a 48-kilometer radius of the exploded reactor, was evacuated and sealed off in the aftermath of the explosion. All visits were prohibited.

Today, about 2,500 employees maintain the remains of the now-closed nuclear plant, working in shifts to minimize their exposure to radiation. Several hundred evacuees have returned to their villages in the area despite a government ban. A few firms now offer tours to the restricted area, but the government says those tours are illegal and their safety is not guaranteed.

Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova said experts are developing travel routes that will be both medically safe and informative for Ukrainians as well as foreign visitors. She did not give an exact date when the tours were expected to begin.“There are things to see there if one follows the official route and doesn't stray away from the group,” Ms. Yershova told The Associated Press. “Though it is a very sad story.”

06.01.11. Gas deal disputed in Ukraine

11 December 2010

Will Englund

Ukraine is moving to settle a long-running dispute over its purchase of natural gas, with a big payout to its supplier. The populist leader of the political opposition, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, says the settlement is a giant swindle and has called on the International Monetary Fund to suspend its loans to her country.

The supplier, a murky company called RosUkrEnergo (RUE), will receive the compensation in the form of 12.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas, which is worth close to $3 billion. In January 2009, when Tymoshenko was prime minister, she had engineered a deal with Russia that cut out RUE from gas transactions. The company claimed that this amounted to a confiscation of its property.

RUE is owned jointly by Gazprom, the Russian gas company, and a Ukrainian tycoon named Dmytro Firtash. American diplomats, in cables released by WikiLeaks, reported back to Washington on speculation that RUE had criminal connections. The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in 2008, William Taylor, reported that Firtash had admitted to him that he had had dealings with Semyon Mogilevich, reputed to be a powerful Russian mobster. Firtash issued a statement Thursday categorically denying any link to Mogilevich.

The settlement, Tymoshenko wrote in a letter to IMF officials Thursday, leaves the Ukrainian state-owned gas company "entangled in a web of international corruption and fraud."

Calling it the "largest-scale financial crime in Ukraine's history," she said the IMF should withhold the second installment of a $15 billion loan to Ukraine.

"During the difficult post-crisis period, it is very hard for Ukraine's people to live, work and repay credits to the IMF, which will later be transferred to mafia structures," she wrote. "I know that other IMF donor-countries have also experienced difficult times after the crisis. It would be unfair for taxpayers of the IMF donor-countries to finance corrupt schemes in the post-Soviet space."

The government of President Viktor Yanukovych, who took office last spring, points out that the dispute over RUE went to an international arbitration court in Stockholm, where in July Ukraine lost its case. Tymoshenko said the government had no intention of winning. "There was a corrupt conspiracy between the new Ukrainian government and the shadowy company RosUkrEnergo against Ukraine, framed behind the back of Ukraine's people," she wrote.

Western diplomats based in Ukraine agreed that the government didn't try to win its case. "The government took a powder in Stockholm," one said.


Tymoshenko made a fortune buying and selling natural gas in the 1990s. She turned to politics and was a key figure in Ukraine's Orange Revolution of 2004. She served two separate terms as prime minister, before running for president against Yanukovych earlier this year. Yanukovych had the strong backing of Moscow in that election, and won with 48 percent of the vote to Tymoshenko'

Complete article: [here]

06.01.11. The underbelly of Ukrainian gas Dealings

By Christian Neef

The agreement in early 2009 which restarted gas deliveries from Russia via Ukraine to Western Europe, was hailed as a success. But since Viktor Yanukovych became Ukrainian president in February, many of those involved in the deal have been arrested.

There were petitions for clemency after his arrest. Filaret, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church, put in a good word for him, as did Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's first president, three dozen members of parliament, businesspeople and scientists. But the petitions have been ignored.

‘After My Blood'

Why was someone like Didenko so important to the government that he was arrested like some Mafia boss? Why does Didenko believe that it is possible "that agitated political groups are after my blood in prison," as he shouted into the courtroom from the caged area where he was being held during his arraignment? And why is Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister of Ukraine until March of this year, claiming that Didenko's arrest proves "that the country has fallen into the hands of criminal organizations?"


Nevertheless, the Didenko case is highly political. It reveals the inner workings of Ukraine: how some multimillionaires are using this country -- which many non-Ukrainians only associate with the TV images of brawls in parliament -- as a vehicle for their business deals; and how the legal culture of Ukraine, a country seeking European Union membership, is being increasingly undermined.

A Giant Budgetary Hole

Didenko's story is the tale of a major deal that has to be of interest to the West, because it suffers every winter as a result of turbulence in Ukraine, even though it has trouble understanding the underlying causes. The deal involves 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas, worth billions of dollars, and an arbitration award that has torn a giant hole into the country's budget.

Billionaire Dmitry Firtash, 45, is one of the lead actors in this drama. He is one of the most powerful men in Ukraine and has been successful in the gas and chemical business for years. Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, 41, also plays a leading role. He is a media mogul, a former economics minister and steel magnate who is sometimes referred to as the "Ukrainian Berlusconi." Khoroshkovsky is also head of the Ukrainian security service, an intelligence agency which also has policing and public prosecutor duties -- a total of 30,000 employees. Finally, Viktor Yanukovich plays a leading role. The 60-year-old is a former locomotive engineer and miner who was convicted in his younger days of participation in a robbery and assault before rising to become prime minister in 2002. Since February, he has been Ukraine's president.

Firtash actively invests not only in business, but in politics as well.

Igor Didenko is the final character of note.

The story began in January 2009. Only 12 hours into the new year, Russia had declared a gas war on neighboring Ukraine.


Experts have calculated that the Ukrainian government lost about $1 billion in this process of shifting 12.1 billion cubic meters of gas back and forth. Firtash, however, is raking in a huge profit at current prices. The 12.1 billion cubic meters are now worth $3 billion. The oligarch denies that Ukraine came up short in the deal, and that the gas reserves are no longer sufficient for this winter.

The Kiev newspaper Kommersant disagrees, writing that half of the 24 billion cubic meters currently being stored in tanks is now gone, corresponding to about a quarter of annual requirements. This, the paper writes, creates the risk of an energy collapse.

Didenko, for his part, remains in Lukyanivska Prison. A Kiev appeals court extended his pretrial detention on Dec. 9. What is happening here, says Didenko, is "a political trial in the interest of dirty economic groups." He could face several years in prison.

Complete article: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,736745,00.html

31.01.11. Let’s not betray our age-old hopes

Kyiv, 22 January 2011

Lieut.-Gen. Oleksandr Skipalsky is the former deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Ninety-two years ago the unification of the free and independent State of the Ukrainian people was proclaimed on St. Sophia Square. It was proclaimed. And then it was forfeited. Unity was lost. Independence and freedom were lost; statehood was lost.

Decades passed, and once again we achieved a Ukrainian State, the state for which we had struggled, for the sake of which the finest sons and daughters of our nation sacrificed their lives. We were overjoyed that we had our own flag, a Ukrainian national anthem, our own Ukrainian army, and our own Ukrainian secret services.

In rejoicing, we allowed people to come to power who began to stifle our freedom, who wanted to crush the resistance of our citizens through fraud, trickery, and provocations with the assistance of the force structures.

But the Russian political technologists, hired with funds stolen from the Ukrainian people, were not able to penetrate the souls of contemporary Ukrainians or to understand the limit of suffering and insults, the intensity of the Ukrainian people’s desire to live in an independent European state.

Once again, we saw not an amorphous population but a Nation, a nation that chooses Freedom, chooses Liberty. In 2004 we witnessed the Ukrainian Nation on Independence Square.

It was these aware Ukrainians, all people of good will, regardless of their ethnic background, religious affiliation, cultural mores, language, and regional affiliation, who brought a new president to power in the country.

The world applauded Ukraine. And to the sound of this applause began a new round of destruction, the destruction of the State, the destruction of faith, the destruction of hope. As a result, the people who have now come to power in our State are those for whom Ukraine is a foreign concept. These people believe that Ukraine should become their private property. Their goal is to privatize Ukraine completely. And persistently, step by step, they are heading toward that goal. The people are mired in poverty, but they are swimming in luxury. While pensioners are counting their pennies, they are buying up yachts, planes, villas, and banks.

They regard the Ukrainian force structures, the Ukrainian courts, and the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine as their private property. They look upon the Security Service of Ukraine as a security service for their clans.

They are not only destroying our language and our history, they are destroying public morale.

They are destroying the future of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They represent not so much a different ideology as a different civilization.

Neither my conscience nor my Ukrainian blood will permit me to gaze dispassionately upon the privatization of my nation.

We do not want our age-old hopes betrayed. We desire the achievement of our goals.

That is why my comrades in arms and I—those members of the force structures who have not lost sight of honesty and honor—will not be changing our profession for a long time to come.

Translated from the Ukrainian

31.01.11. Former Interior Minister: I am a political prisoner


Jan 19, 2011

Former Ukrainian Interior Minister and People's Self-Defense Party leader Yuriy Lutsenko has said that he is innocent and described himself as a political prisoner.

"I swear before God and people that I am not guilty of what I'm being accused of at the highest command of the Prosecutor General's Office. The only reason for my imprisonment in a condemned cell at Lukianivka jail is to deprive me of any chance to speak out about the resumption of bandit democracy in Ukraine," the press service of the People's Self-Defense Party quoted Lutsenko as saying.

He also said that he had become "a prisoner of war of criminals who seized power in Ukraine." Lutsenko said that the goal of the current authorities is "to destroy their political opponents and establish an atmosphere of fear in order to rob the country and the people without any obstacles."

Lutsenko called on Ukrainians to unite, and added that "the resistance of people is the only thing the authorities are afraid of."

"This year is a period of the civil position of everybody. The pendulum of Ukrainian history has swung into a dark time. It all depends on the ability of Ukrainians to protect their families, their souls and their history. Don't lose your heart! Don't be silent! We are united!" he said.

On Dec. 13, Lutsenko and his former driver Leonid Prystupliuk were charged with the large-scale embezzlement of state property worth UAH 360,000, as well as the abuse of power and the use of forged documents.

On Dec. 26, Lutsenko was detained near his house. On December 27, Pechersky District Court of Kyiv ordered Lutsenko to be jailed for two months. On December 28, it became known that Lutsenko had been moved from a Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) prison to Lukianivka Prison No.13.

On Jan. 17, Lutsenko's lawyer Ihor Fomin filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights regarding Lutsenko's alleged illegal arrest.



31.01.11. Opinion on the constitutional situation in Ukraine


Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 85th Plenary Session, Venice (17-18 December 2010)


V. Conclusion

69. The recent constitutional history of Ukraine has involved constant challenges and attempts to find the right balance of powers between the President, the Cabinet and Parliament. It soon became apparent that the text of the 1996 Constitution did not, taking into account realities in Ukraine, provide for sufficient checks and balances and that there was a risk of authoritarian presidential system. The Venice Commission therefore supported, already in 2003, the efforts for constitutional reform. These efforts led to the adoption of the 2004 constitutional amendments. The change brought about by these amendments was welcome, in principle, but neither coherent nor well thought through. The amendments therefore led to increased tension, especially between the President and the Cabinet of Ministers.

70. The reinstatement of the 1996 version of the Constitution by a judgment of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine raises questions of the legitimacy of past actions, as the institutions of Ukraine worked for several years on the basis of constitutional rules later declared unconstitutional. It also raises questions of legitimacy with respect to the present state institutions, since the President and the Parliament were elected under constitutional rules that are no longer recognised as valid. The President of Ukraine, as from this judgment, enjoys far more powers than could be foreseen by the voters when he was elected. The working of the main state organs is now based on rules changed by a court and not on rules changed by the Verkhovna Rada, as a democratically legitimate body.

71. The issues around the terms of office and elections are rather complex and equivocal, and every decision in this respect must be based on clear and convincing arguments in order to be accepted by the people. To the extent that an authoritative interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution with regard to the next date of the parliamentary elections seems to be required, the Venice Commission believes that a decision by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine could provide the answer to this issue.

72. The Commission also considers it to be of the utmost importance for the Ukrainian authorities to adhere to the rule of law and to observe all rules of procedure when adopting and revising national legislation to implement the Constitution, including by fully involving the opposition parties in this process. Such legislation should not be used to enlarge competences of state institutions beyond what is envisaged by the text of the 1996 version of the Constitution, as it was the case with the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers recently.

73. In the Venice Commission’s opinion, the recent political and constitutional crisis in Ukraine once again revealed how urgently a true and comprehensive constitutional reform is needed in that country. The Commission has called for such a reform several times already[37], and has underlined the need to secure the legitimacy of any constitutional reform in Ukraine. Such legitimacy can only be achieved if constitutional amendments are made after extensive, open and free public discussions involving the opposition and civil society, and in strict accordance with the constitutional provisions on amendment through decisions of the Verkhovna Rada by a qualified majority. A Constitution which is not based on large agreement of all relevant political players in the country cannot lead to political stability, as we have seen over the last years.

74. The Venice Commission strongly encourages the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that such a constitutional reform results in an effective strengthening of the stability, independence and efficiency of state institutions through a clear division of competencies and effective checks and balances. It should also introduce additional mechanisms and procedures of parliamentary control over the actions and intentions of the executive. Such a constitutional reform should also include changes in the provisions on the judiciary aiming at “laying down a solid foundation for a modern and efficient judiciary in full compliance with European standards”[38].

75. Finally, as the Commission pointed out in its recent Report on constitutional amendment, “as long as the special requirements for amendment in the constitutions of Europe are respected and followed, then these are and should be a sufficient guarantee against abuse. In most countries such decisions require a qualified majority of the elected representatives in parliament, as well as other requirements. Constitutional decisions adopted following such procedures will in general enjoy a very high degree of democratic legitimacy – which a court should be extremely reluctant to overrule[39]”.

76. The Venice Commission therefore strongly encourages the Ukrainian authorities to engage in a process of constitutional change that is based on the regular constitutional procedure for constitutional amendments and on the democratic participation of all actors of society concerned.

77. The Venice Commission is ready to assist in this important task, should the Ukrainian authorities make a request for such assistance.

Complete article: [ here ]

01.02.2011. Parlamentsvalget udsat til 2012

Ukraines parlament har vedtaget forfatningsændringer vedrørende datoen for afholdelsen af næste præsidentvalget og parlamentsvalg. 310 deputerede stemte for, herunder 180 deputerede fra Regionernes Parti, 7 deputerede fra Julia Tymoshenkos Blok, 41 deputerede fra NUNS (Vores Ukraine), 25 kommunister, 20 deputerede fra Folkepartiet og 37 løsgængere.

Beslutningen medfører, at det næste parlamentsvalg afholdes i oktober 2012, mens det næste præsidentvalg er berammet til marts 2015. Desuden indføres der en 5-årig valgperiode for såvel Ukraines præsident, som for parlamentet, Krims parlament og de deputerede i lokale råd på alle niveauer, samt for borgmestre og landsbyoverhoveder.

Præsidentvalg skal afholdes på den sidste søndag i marts i den siddende præsidents 5. år i embedet. Parlamentsvalg skal afholdes på den sidste søndag i oktober i det 5. år af parlamentets mandat, mens lokal- og regionalvalgene ligeledes skal afholdes på den sidste søndag i oktober i det 5. år af lokalrådenes, borgmestrenes og landsbyoverhovedernes mandat.

Inden disse forfatningsændringer blev vedtaget, skulle det næste parlamentsvalg efter i 1996-forfatningen have været afholdt den 27. marts 2011.

Som bekendt erklærede den ukrainske forfatningsdomstol den 1. oktober forfatningsændringerne af den 8. december 2004 som værende i strid med forfatningen.

I henhold til forfatningen fra 1996 havde parlamentet en 4-årig valgperiode, mens præsidenten blev valgt for en 5-årig periode. UP.

05.02.11. Hryshchenko: Europas fremtid afgøres i Ukraine

Øst- og Vesteuropa søger fortsat en ny modus vivendi, skriver den ukrainske udenrigsminister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko i en artikel i Süddeutsche Zeitung "Et Europa af efterladte" . "Ukraine er et pilotprojekt for fremtidens forenede Europa", skriver ministeren.

Artiklen blev offentliggjort i en særudgave af avisen i anledning af sikkerhedskonferencen i München, oplyser direktøren for det ukrainske udenrigsministeriums departement for informationspolitik, Oleg Voloshyn.

Som fremhævet af Hryshchenko, er "den nye ukrainske udenrigspolitik baseret på en vision om det indlysende: vi ser os selv som et pilotprojekt i et fremtidigt virkeligt forenet Europa. Ligesom Øst- og Vestukraine med deres forskellige historiske traditioner bør nærme sig hinanden, bør Vest- og Østeuropa blive et samlet hele."

"Vores langsigtede mål bør være fuldstændigt at overvinde forskellene mellem øst og vest. Vi taler om sikkerhedsspørgsmål og økonomien i den globale konkurrence. Hvis vi fortsætter de gamle diskussioner, vil det en gang for alle svække Europas position i modsætning til andre regioner i verden.", understreger den ukrainske udenrigsminister.

Ifølge Hryshchenko, "er Øst-og Vesteuropa stadig på udkig efter en ny modus vivendi, der i sidste ende vil give en mulighed for at overvinde gamle skillelinjer." Lederen af Ukraines udenrigsministerium mener, at en sådan skillelinje i den seneste tid har gået ned gennem Ukraine. "Den tidligere regerings forsøg på at bringe Ukraine tættere på et medlemskab af NATO var ikke understøttet af et flertal af befolkningen. Desuden førte denne politik til alvorlige spændinger mellem Vesten og Rusland. Nu, da vi er gået væk fra den gamle mantra (enten bliver vi medlemmer af NATO, eller også bliver vi absorberet af Rusland), har vi reddet Europa fra den politiske dødvægt, som i værste fald kunne føre til en ny "kold krig" - opsummerer Hryshchenko. Podrobnosti.

25.02.11. Ukraine being downgraded from “free” to “partly free”

In the Soviet Union dissidents were charged with an array of offences, ranging from the catch-all “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” to corruption, homosexuality and other non-political crimes. These trumped up charges fooled no-one. In the same way, today’s Western governments and international organisations do not believe the corruption charges levelled against Ukraine’s political opposition. In fact these and other repressions have resulted in widespread condemnation from the international community and to Ukraine being downgraded from “free” to “partly free” by the democracy and human rights watchdog, Freedom House. Clearly though, the Ukrainian authorities are becoming exasperated by the negative criticism radiating from Brussels and Washington. The Ukrainian Embassy in France even took the unprecedented step of threatening critical journalists with unstated consequences and accusing them of being “unpatriotic” for calling for tough Western policies towards Kyiv.

Oleg Voloshyn, Director for Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, wrote in the EUobserver (8 February) that “what is happening in Ukraine today can be described in one word: “stabilisation,” claiming that under former President Viktor Yushchenko there was allegedly “mayhem”, “lawlessness” and “chaos.” In a script that could have been penned from the desk of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Mr Voloshyn wrote, “Two years ago Ukraine was in a very bad place, bordering on anarchy.” 

President Yanukovych took things even further, alleging that Western journalists are paid to write critical articles and that the Czech authorities were bribed to grant political asylum to the former Minister for the Economy, Bohdan Danylshyn.

The Apologists

Two North American sympathisers, Bruce Jackson and Adrian Karatnycky, have also gone on the offensive claiming that democratic regression in Ukraine has been exaggerated. They seek to convince people that Mr Yanukovych is in reality a “good tsar” who is seeking the best for Ukraine. The so-called American Institute in Ukraine even wrote in the Kyiv Post that Mr Yanukovych should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps not realising that he had joined the Chinese-led boycott of the recent ceremony that awarded it to dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Mr Jackson seeks to convince us that President Yanukovych is sincere in his anti-corruption campaign. Not surprisingly, nothing is said about the huge VAT fraud or the practice of awarding contracts, without public tender or competition, worth hundreds of millions of euro for infrastructure projects, for the UEFA EURO 2012 football tournament, to companies from the President’s home oblast in Donetsk (see Inform Issue 182). He also ignores the fact that Mr Yanukovych privatised in a highly corrupt manner the mansion Mezhyhirya outside Kyiv. It is therefore comical to see Mr Jackson suggest in an interview in Den (8 February) that Mr Yanukovych does not seek “money, preferences or personal awards.” 

Mr Jackson states that he believes that Ms Tymoshenko is “guilty” of corruption but remains unsure if Ukraine’s courts could provide a fair trial. He is right. The Prosecutor General’s Office and judiciary are both controlled by the President. The new Prosecutor General, Viktor Pshonka, famously admitted, “Of course, I am a member of the president’s team.” Mr Jackson seeks to convince us that Mr Yanukovych is highly concerned that “corruption is hurting his country” but fails to see the irony in the fact that corruption is flourishing while trumped-up criminal charges are directed at the leader of the opposition, Yulia Tymoshenko, and her allies.

Corruption is endemic in Ukraine. As the Financial Times blog (7 February) put it, “investors say that shakedowns by officials and non-transparent dealings are growing to unprecedented levels.” In huge swathes of Ukraine’s economy, from energy through to agriculture, corruption is not being reduced but permitted to flourish in a country where the president has absolute power and therefore full responsibility for what takes place on his watch.

Foreign-owned companies are again subjected to unfair competition in what resembles a return to practices that were common under President Leonid Kuchma. In July 2004, two oligarchs, Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk, privatised Ukraine’s largest steel producer Kryvorizhstal in a tender that blocked the participation of foreign investors. 

Eighteen months later the Tymoshenko government instigated the sale of the plant to ArcelorMittal for six times the 2004 knock down price. Last year, threats were made on the behalf of rapacious oligarchs embedded in the Yanukovych administration, to take back Kryvorizhstal. The process was only stopped by an international outcry supported by the American Chamber of Commerce and European Business Association.

Meeting Mr Yanukovych this month, Mr Jackson reveals that the president told him that Yulia Tymoshenko would not be imprisoned. It is rather odd that the president would know the outcome of a court trial unless it was politically directed and motivated. Surely, the rule of law presupposes innocent until proven guilty.

Removing Yulia from the political affray

The political motivation of the anti-Tymoshenko “corruption” campaign is clear from three vantage points:

· The first is that it is revenge for what Mr Yanukovych sees as his personal humiliation in 2004, and over the succeeding five years, when she was the most ardent opponent of Mr Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. 

· The second is that an anti-corruption campaign cannot be taken seriously unless all fourteen Ukrainian governments, five parliaments and four Presidents are investigated – not just one former government headed by Mr Yanukovych’s main political opponent.

· The third is that the authorities aim to indict Ms Tymoshenko with criminal charges and thereby prevent her from standing in parliament next year and for the presidency in 2015 – continuing a policy introduced in the fraud-marred 2010 local elections when her Batkivshchyna party was prevented from standing in Kyiv and Lviv. 

The strategy is to prevent Ms Tymoshenko from again becoming a threat to Mr Yanukovych’s re-election (in the 2010 Presidential election he barely scraped through with only a 3 percent margin) and to ensure Ukraine’s oligarchs and corrupt gas deals are no longer threatened.

In reply, the Yanukovych camp claims that the anti-corruption campaign is not selective and that hundreds of cases have been brought against their officials. If this is correct, how many of their ministers have been summoned for questioning? How many have been arrested and detained? What are the charges? 

The reality is that Mr Yanukovych’s campaign is even selective within the former “orange” camp, as seen by the fact that Arseniy Yatseniuk and Viktor Yushchenko, leaders of Front for Change and Our Ukraine respectfully, have not been targeted. Mr Yatseniuk is likely to enter the 2012 parliament but belongs to the “constructive opposition” whose business leaders, such as Oleksandr Tretiakov and Mykola Martynenko, already vote with the ruling coalition in parliament. 

None of this registers with the Kyiv authorities, which will continue to pay for opinion pieces to be placed touting well-trodden Yanukovych messages of “stability” and “anti-corruption.” The administration and its Western spin doctors can protest as much as they want but European and US viewpoints have already been taken. The international community is not stupid. It knows that the authorities are not sincere about combating corruption and that the country is experiencing democratic regression, one element of which is the political repression of the opposition. The game is finally up.

25.02.11. De seneste privatiseringer i Ukraine (eng.)

Ever wonder why most Ukrainians live so poorly although the nation is one of the world’s leading exporters of steel, chemicals, weapons and food? Experts blame ubiquitous corruption and insider dealing that cost the nation billions of dollars each year. Future generations will pay for today’s graft as the nation sinks more heavily into debt.

Ukraine’s reliance on foreign loans has raised its public debt to $54 billion, even as the government still hopes to tap up to $12.1 billion more in loans from the International Monetary Fund.

But does the nation really need to borrow so heavily?

No, say a growing number of economists and investment bankers. If Ukraine’s government would stop interfering heavy-handedly in the market, end subsidies and sweetheart deals for insiders and clamp down on financial fraud, there would be no need to rack up debt that future generations will have to pay off, some argue.

“Corruption makes us poor,” said Oleksandr Paskhaver, president of the Center for Economic Development. “If we eliminate corruption even on the lowest levels – bribes to tax authoritties, police, etc., the sum would be much greater than the IMF loans.”

Putting a price on Ukraine’s losses is difficult, but the sums are staggering.

The international financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity estimates that the financial system leaks $10.75 billion a year through the deliberate under-pricing of exports, overpricing of imports and the purchase of non-existent services – assisted through offshore tax havens in Cyprus, the Seychelles and the Cayman Islands. All are designed to ensure that profits are held offshore and out of reach of the Ukrainian tax system.

Put another way, the government’s public debt of $54 billion is roughly 40 percent of the nation's annual gross national product. It’s about $20 billion more than the government’s annual budget for its 46 million citizens.

In human terms, the lost money is a big reason why everything from universities to hospitals to roads are not as good as they could be, why pensions are meager and why – when faced with an uncompetitive economy – six million Ukrainians choose to live abroad, according to the World Bank.

Nearly nine million of the nation’s 14 million pensioners live on $120 a month, while as many as a third of Ukrainians are mired in abject poverty.All of this is happening in a nation that is one the world’s top exporters of steel, ore, grain, chemicals and arms.

"The losses to the budget on non-transparent privatizations, grain export limitations, fictitious VAT [value-added tax] return and the like over the last several years amount to billions of hryvnia," said Oleksandr Zholud, senior analyst at the International Center for Policy Studies. 

Experts have identified the following areas as some of the biggest reasons why the national economy is in such sad shape for most Ukrainians as a cadre of billionaires grows even wealthier:

Shady privatization

Independent Ukraine has a long and horrible history of selling state-owned assets in non-competitive, non-transparent ways to insiders often at cut-rate prices. This practice effectively deprives the state treasury of a large amount of revenue, easily in the billions of dollars, had the enterprises been sold through competitive bids.

In fact, the only shining example of a clean, competitive privatization came in 2005. It was actually a re-privatization championed by then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Mittal Steel (today ArcelorMittal) repurchased Kryvorizhstal, the nation’s largest steel mill, for $4.8 billion – six times the price paid the year before by a team representing government-connected Ukrainian billionaires Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk.

Viktor Yanukovych was prime minister during the earlier privatization derided as a sham. Now, as president, he appears to be returning the nation to the familiar path of opaque sales of state assets.

Ukrtelecom, the state telecoms monopoly and one of the few big government assets left, is close to being sold uncompetitively, Vasyl Yurchyshyn, director of economic programs at the Razumkov Center said. Ukrainian investment bankers say the deal appears to be greased for Epic, an Austrian investment house.

Bidding rules prevented some of the world’s leading telecoms from even attempting to buy the asset As a result, the sole bid came from Epic. An appraiser set the final price at roughly $10 million more than the $1.3 billion starting price. If the deal gets closed, Epic stands to buy Ukrtelecom at $500 million less than analysts say Ukraine could fetch in a competitive tender.

“Everything has been decided and the sale will proceed,” said Oleksander Valchyshen, an analyst at Investment Capital Ukraine. “But the fact that it is not taking place at an auction demonstrates that [Ukraine] is not welcoming real strategic investors.”

In 2010, Ukraine sold only $137 million worth of state assets, 83 percent shy of targets. Two assets sold last year – locomotive maker Luhanskteplovoz and fertilizer producer Severodonetsk Azot – had single bidders.

Analysts believe Ukraine could have gotten more for them. For instance, Luhanskteplovoz sold for $7 million less than for what the same buyer paid three years earlier. Meanwhile, Severodonetsk Azot sold for 45 percent less than book value.

“On average, whenever the government sells an asset to a single buyer, it losses one-third of the market price, but that depends on the specific sale,” said analyst Zholud.


Swiss-based gas trader RosUkrEnergo says it is a legitimate business that performed a needed role as gas-trading intermediary between Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia.

Critics – including ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the U.S. government – have raised questions about the company's transparency, its beneficiaries and its purpose.

Many argue that RosUkrEnergo's billions in profits came at the expense of the nation for the benefit of a few insiders.

Euro 2012

The government has embarked on a no-bid process for jobs and projects to overhaul the country’s outdated transportation and other infrastructure leading up to the Euro 2012 soccer championship. And it’s doing so mostly with borrowed public funds. As little as 20 percent of Euro 2012-related expenditures might come from private investors.

Organizers had planned to use $5 billion of state government money but the current plan envisions $18 billion of government money.

The result? Runaway costs.

The cost of building the Lviv stadium has doubled from Hr 1.12 billion to Hr 2.3 billion, said AnatoliyVolovenko, the stadium’s construction manager., on Feb. 8. And reconstruction of Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium may double to $600 million, making it one of Europe’s most expensive stadiums.

One glaring, but relatively small, examples of oddly spent public money involves the purchase of 10 wooden benches for a Kharkiv metro station worth close to $8,000 apiece.

“There’s certain manipulation at work here. I don’t understand their current policy of holding non-competitive bids,” said Yuriy Pavlenko, the former minister of family, youth and sport. “Their approach is absolutely non-transparent.”

Borys Kolesnikov, the vice prime minister in charge of Euro 2012, has justified non-competitive bids because of time constraints. But Pavlenko and other experts say that the Yanukovych-controlled parliament could have easily streamlined public procurement laws – allowing Ukraine to get more bang for the public money spent.

Picking favorites

The government is also on the verge of shorting itself on billions of lost export income as a result of grain export quotas in place since last summer. Then it granted a disproportionate share of export quotas, more than half, to just three domestic companies.

The affair has been “unjustified, untransparent, and unfair,” according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine.

The 2010 harvest was the third largest in Ukrainian history. The chamber said a handful of preferred grain companies are suspiciously being granted the lion’s share of export quotas. The quotas are in place until June 30.

But things could get much worse soon: the state could end up monopolizing the grain market altogether, running counter to the nation’s international trade commitments.

According to Volodymyr Klymenko, the head of the Ukrainian Grain Association, a proposed law may force grain traders to buy from a state company instead of directly from farmers.

Klymenko summed up the losses this way: “What is clear is that Ukraine could have raised $4.2 billion exporting grain from last season’s crop. Instead, Ukraine exported only $1.4 billion worth of grain due to export restrictions. At the end of the day, Ukraine missed out on $3 billion due to the destructive state policy in the agriculture sector.”

Duty-free oil

Experts say hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue were lost last year because an obscure firm was permitted to import, duty-free, massive volumes of oil and related products. The firm, Livella, would have owed the state more than $375 million worth of import duties, according to Ukraine’s anti-monopoly committee, had the taxes been charged.

The company stopped importing oil after protests from competitors and business lobbyists.

“At a time when the government takes difficult and unpopular decisions [such as cutting public spending], the [duty and tax-free import privileges exploited by some companies] not only allows certain companies to evade paying taxes, but also distorts free competition on the Ukrainian fuel market, threatening investment in this sector,” read a recent Chamber of Commerce letter to government authorities.

Value-added tax

By far one of the biggest boondoggles has been the government’s value-added tax refund program. It is designed to make Ukrainian exports more competitive by rebating the VAT to exporters. However, the government’s chronic unwillingness or inability to pay exporters what they are owed has fueled suspicions of corruption involving fictitious companies. Some firms get VAT refunds, others don’t – and the government decides.

The issue is an impediment to investment. Vice Premier Serhiy Tigipko said the government owed $1.2 billion to exporters as of December 2010 on top of more than $2 billion in VAT bonds it issued in September 2010 to companies it owed.

Ukraine’s largest steel mill, ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih, alone was owed $288 million in value-added tax refunds as of Dec. 31

British Ambassador Leigh Turner this month criticized the whole process.

“Some companies receive it quickly, some receive it slowly, and some companies do not receive them at all. Unfortunately, there is an opinion, that how quickly you receive the VAT refund may be influenced either by political connections or corruption. Clearly, this is a catastrophic situation for the business climate,” Turner said.

Government is correcting the problem, according to Iryna Akimova, the president’s top economic adviser.

“We improved the VAT refund system and introduced fines that the state has to pay in case of delays. There is also an automatic VAT refund system for exporters that meet certain criteria,” Akimova said.

But government has a dismal track record in delivering on its promises.

A case in point is ArcelorMittal, the steel giant. Its general director, Rinat Starkov, summed up 2010 this way: “We’re ready to invest in the modernization and further development of production. Unfortunately, the automatic VAT refund system hasn’t been put in place and VAT arrears remain a serious obstacle not only to development but also for the normal functioning of the enterprise.”

Exactly how many billions of dollars that Ukraine loses through corruption, insider dealing or simply bad governance is difficult – if not impossible – to calculate.

But it seems clear to many experts that borrowing from the IMF would be unnecessary if government would simply clean up its act.

“I doubt Ukraine needs IMF loans now,” Razumkov Center's Yurchyshyn said.

“It is correct to say that had the Ukrainian government been more efficient in generating income from privatization, lifting grain quotas and the like, IMF money would probably not be needed.”

Kyiv Post staff writers Yuriy Onyshkiv and Mark Rachkevych can be reached atonyshkiv@kyivpost.com and rachkevych@kyivpost.com.

04.03.11. The Economist: Viktor Yanukovich turns eastward

Feb 24th 2011

IN 2003 Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s president, published a book called “Ukraine is not Russia”. Just over a year later the “orange revolution” broke out in Kyiv, depriving Viktor Yanukovich of his rigged victory in a presidential election. Although Mr Kuchma’s book was mainly about history and culture, after the revolution its title was projected onto politics, becoming a mantra to both Ukrainians and the West. The rejection of Mr Yanukovich’s election was seen as a new stage in the eastward expansion of Western values.

The contrast was striking. As Russia slid into authoritarianism, Ukraine was revelling in its newly-won freedon. Just over a year ago, the ineffectual Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the orange revolution, lost a presidential election to Mr Yanukovich. The return to power of a man who had tried to steal it five years earlier was a disappointment. But the peaceful transition also suggested that democracy had at least been consolidated in Ukraine.

Today, however, Mr Kuchma’s democratic credentials are looking more doubtful. The concern is not that Ukraine has lost economic or political independence, as many Western observers feared it might. Mr Yanukovich is too beholden to Ukraine’s tycoons and too tight-fisted to share the spoils with Russia. It is rather that he is emulating Vladimir Putin’s methods, albeit without Russia’s imperial zeal. The free spirit that once characterised Ukraine is evaporating as quickly as it did in Russia a decade ago. Ukraine, until recently rated by Freedom House as the only free ex-Soviet country (apart from the three Baltic states), has been downgraded to partially free.

Mr Yanukovich has consolidated more power than any of his predecessors enjoyed. He has forced through constitutional changes to restore old presidential powers and add new ones. As in Russia in the early Putin years, the influence of parliament, prime minister and government has been cut back. Decisions belong in the presidential administration. Prosecutors, the constitutional court and the central bank have lost any semblance of independence. As Viktor Pshonka, a new prosecutor-general chosen by Mr Yanukovich, told a television interviewer, “I am a member of [Mr Yanukovich’s] team, implementing all the decisions taken by the president…[He] is a very objective man.”

Centralising power, say Mr Yanukovich’s aides, was necessary to re-establish order after years of chaos. Sergei Levochkin, Mr Yanukovich’s chief of staff, says the president is determined to pursue administrative and economic reforms. Red tape has been cut, he says, gas prices raised and the government is preparing to push through a pension reform and open up a market in land.

Yet as the experience of Russia shows, weak institutions mean government actions carry more weight than laws. The reforms have yet to appear but the thuggery and cronyism are in place. The first local elections fought under Mr Yanukovich were dirty. The air of intimidation has thickened. Investors complain of businesses being shaken down by Mr Yanukovich’s men. Alexander Lebedev, a Russian businessman who owns hotels in Kyiv and Crimea, says his properties have been raided.

Mr Yanukovich has taken a leaf from Mr Putin’s book by exploiting a right-wing nationalist party in western Ukraine to serve as an easily defeatable opposition that can also be presented in the West and in Kyiv as an ugly alternative to his moderate Party of Regions.

Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who was Mr Yanukovich’s main challenger at last year’s election, says some of her party members have been intimidated into giving up their parliamentary seats. Several of her former ministers, including Yuri Lutsenko, who served as interior minister, are in detention for crimes allegedly committed in office. She herself is unable to leave the country, or even to travel within it.

To give its attack on Ms Tymoshenko an air of legitimacy, the government hired an American law firm to investigate her behaviour in office. But it turned up little. She now stands accused of spending money received from the sale of greenhouse-gas quotas on pensions rather than on reducing pollution, and of buying ill-equipped ambulances.

In a country where billions of dollars are siphoned off in shady gas deals, these charges seem not only political but flimsy. What really sets Ms Tymoshenko and Mr Lutsenko apart, says Yulia Mostovaya, editor of Zerkalo Nedeli, an independent weekly, is their experience in organising mass street protests. Mr Yanukovich, say some, is still haunted by memories of the orange revolution.

Meanwhile, corruption continues unchecked. Last year Ukraine set quotas for grain exports, half of which ended up in the hands of three domestic firms. “There was no logic for this restriction…apart from graft,” says one foreign economist.

There are still many ways in which Ukraine is not Russia, says Andrew Wilson of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank. It does not have Russia’s natural resources, its economy is less reformed, it has no imperial hangover and no tradition of a strong state. It is also more dependent on foreign financing, which gives outsiders greater sway. Yet few of Mr Yanukovich’s actions have attracted serious criticism in the West.

One reason for this is fatigue with Ukraine; the appearance of stability has brought Mr Yanukovich relief from Western pressure. America, which was crucial in preventing the use of force during the orange revolution, has other things to worry about. Mr Yanukovich’s agreement to relinquish Ukraine’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium, one of the few tangible results of Barack Obama’s summit on nuclear material last year, makes it harder for America to criticise him.

After an initial honeymoon, relations between Mr Yanukovich and Mr Putin have soured. But as the example of Belarus shows, this should be of no comfort to the West. There is little love lost between Belarus’s president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and the Kremlin. Even so, Mr Lukashenka’s brutal crushing of protests after a stolen election in December lodged him deeper in Russia’s sphere of influence.

Ukraine is in a different league from Belarus, and still freer than Russia. But the trend is clear: the eastward expansion of Western values in the 1990s has been replaced by the westward creep of a post-Soviet model.

04.03.11. Creating a system with one decision-making point

25 February 2011

In Ukraine, stability, creeping authoritarian, yes; real change, no.

It has been a year since Viktor Yanukovych was inaugurated as president of Ukraine, and many of the worst prognoses have come to fulfillment. At the time of his election, many, including TOL, wondered whether Yanukovych might bring welcome stability and progress after years of bickering and failed reform under the veterans of the Orange Revolution. “Some even believe that Yanukovych, more predictable and less opportunistic than [Yulia] Tymoshenko, might be a better bet to actually get things done,” we wrote.

Let’s set aside for now the massive backsliding on democracy, detailed by TOL and other media over the past year – a coordinated effort to harry and jail opposition leaders, a greaterconcentration of power in the president’s hands, more media censorship, and attacks on “unfriendly” civil society organizations. All that has combined to see Ukraine downgraded by Freedom House from “free” to “partly free” in its annual Freedom in the World rankings.

Among the president’s supporters, these types of moves have typically been justified in the overall quest for “stability.” “Yushchenko's term showed Ukrainians that our country is not ready to improve its political system, based on a balance of powers,” Yuri Myroshnichenko, the president's representative to parliament, said last year. “The most effective model for present-day Ukraine is authoritarianism, meaning a system with one decision-making point. Otherwise there will be no reforms, only a race for power.”

As Sergey Sydorenko writes in his analysis today, the result of the past year is that Yanukovych and his team have their precious stability and no major obstacles in their way: a loyal majority in parliament and control over the constitutional court and the rest of the judicial system, law enforcement agencies, and most of the local authorities. The opposition has also been sufficiently neutered (and has neutered itself) so as not to put up much resistance. And without many political alternatives and confronted with stability after so many years of infighting, Ukrainians continue to give Yanukovych fairly high political ratings.

On paper, it’s a perfect situation, in other words, for a tough-minded reformer to introduce shock therapy to a country direly in need of an overhaul. Instead, nothing of the kind has taken place. The president and his fan club continue to tout each law as “reform”-oriented, but the new legislation has not introduced systemic or structural changes. Instead legislative moves typically represent attempts to cement the power of the current regime and its supporters (read “oligarchs”).

A few examples: The new tax code has been presented as an attempt to modernize and streamline the tax system but has increased the power of the tax police (and further opportunities for corruption). More tellingly, the “reform” has hit small and medium-size businesses hard with tough, new regulations. Already only producing a small percentage of the country’s GDP (roughly 10 percent compared with a typical figure of between 50 and 60 percent for EU countries), the country’s entrepreneurs – and what should be a pillar of the middle class – are set to become even smaller in numbers. In contrast, critics say, various tax incentives will benefit big business and the country’s rich the most. That is also the likely result of changes to the country’s public procurement law. Despite promises not to water down the law (adopted last year), parliament has added new ways to bypass tenders, angering the EU to such an extent that millions of dollars in aid has been temporarily suspended. 

The government also has hyped its so-called administrative reform, cutting the number of regularatory bodies from more than 100 to a few dozen. But serious efforts to increase efficiency and slash the bureaucracy did not accompany those changes. In general, the number of tasks that these agencies were performing was not reduced but simply redistributed. Similarly, the number of ministries was trimmed, but former ministries became new departments of existing ministries (they were merged) or re-formed as new state agencies or committees. Former ministers did not lose their jobs but were appointed as new deputy ministers or heads of new entities. Some personnel cuts were made, but on the lowest level of the hierarchy and often included young and committed officials – precisely those the government should want to keep.

During last year’s election run-up, some analysts believed that the oligarchs themselves would push their frontman, Yanukovych, to improve relations with Brussels because they wanted new markets for their goods and, in general, wanted Ukraine to be seen as “European.” Yet if these rich business people find that the new regime’s practices within Ukraine, like the new tax code, make them just as wealthy or even wealther, it’s doubtful they will play much of a progressive role. The same can be said of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, a reactionary collection of ex-Communists, cronies from the president’s home region of Donetsk, and others with little real interest in changing a corrupt system. Now in charge of the bureaucracy, party officials will likely find the shortest and easiest route to their share of the pie. 

The question now is whether it was ever realistic to think that stability under Yanukovych could lead to real reform. The fundamental problems facing the economy – corruption, a complex regulatory framework, high taxes – and the problems facing government administration – corruption, non-transparency, a lack of accountability – have not been addressed. The man, his sources of power, the system as a whole – all may simply present too many impediments to change. With so much power concentrated in one individual, that individual had better be committed to reform and understand how a modern, European country should look. Given Yanukovych’s background and previous career, that was never very likely.

Transitions Online encourages readers to respond to this and other commentaries or articles. We also invite readers to submit longer, more detailed commentaries. For information, read our submission guidelines.


21.03.11. US pro-democracy groups to sound alarm about election law

March 16, 2011

Yuriy Onyshkiv

Two U.S. democracy organizations may end their involvement in a Ukrainian working group tasked to develop a new election law after last fall’s flawed local vote.

Sources say the withdrawal, if it happens, would be in protest of the working group’s failure to adhere to international standards of democracy, openness and fairness.

Representatives of the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute are not commenting. But knowledgeable sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said a decision could come within days.

The working group on election reform is chaired by President Viktor Yanukovych, blamed for holding local elections last October that did not meet democratic standards in the assessment of international and domestic observers.

Yanukovych, of course, has weak democratic credentials. He was the beneficiary of a rigged 2004 presidential election, overturned by the Orange Revolution and Viktor Yushchenko’s election that year. Moreover, the Yanukovych administration is criticized for favoring postponement of parliamentary elections to 2012, instead of 2011.

Sources said that a joint statement by the U.S. institutes could be issued in coming days, in which both announce their decision to stop participating in the working group, which was described by one source as being run like a “Potemkin village.”

Such a pullout could deepen criticism that Yanukovych, since taking power more than a year ago, is reversing democratic progress.

However, sources say the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute may resume activity if the group improves openness to all interested parties, including the opposition, and makes a more honest effort to develop and endorse acceptable draft electoral legislation.

In an opinion piece published in the Kyiv Post on Feb. 25, NDI’s director in Ukraine, Kristina Wilfore, wrote that “last fall’s local elections were a great disappointment for many non-partisan election watchers who had hoped that bad elections in Ukraine were a thing of the past. Unfortunately, three months into the [election law] reform effort, the president’s initiative looks to be equally disappointing.”

Yanukovych countered such criticism by starting a working group in November to bring the electoral legislation in line with generally accepted international democratic standards.

The chairman of the group is Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych. Other members include: deputy presidential administration chiefs, Andriy Honcharuk and Olena Lukash; director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, Andriy Yermolaev; chairman of the Central Election Commission, Volodymyr Shapoval; deputy CEC chairman, Andriy Mahera: CEC member Mykhailo Okhendovskiy and parliament deputy Volodymyr Pilipenko.

The press service of Ukraine’s Justice Ministry reported on March 16 that the working group had completed its concept of a future law on parliamentary elections.

“According to the minister, the concept of law was developed with the participation of representatives of all parliamentary factions, as well as deputies belonging to no faction, and representatives of international and domestic NGOs,” Lavrynovych’s spokeswoman said.

But sources close to the working group said that many of its members have not seen the draft legislation, nor have their suggestions been openly welcome.

Okhendovskiy, seen as loyal to Yanukovych, defended the process, saying: “At the working group meeting, members discussed only the main aspects that should be taken into account in preparing the new version of the parliamentary election law. The text of the law itself was not discussed. The text of the law will be prepared taking into account proposals expressed during the group’s meetings.”

But in the opinion piece published in the Kyiv Post last month, NDI’s Kristina Wilfore wrote:

“The government, which formed this election law drafting commission unilaterally, has not fully welcomed major opposition parties or non-partisan civic organizations. While some members of the opposition and civil society have been included during later meetings of the working group, their belated participation is not a substitute for substantial involvement. Furthermore, the working group remains a heavily pro-government body.”

She added: “As for transparency, debate, deliberation and drafting – the group’s central functions – are going on behind closed doors, where participants lack the ability to make real decisions.

At the first meeting, those gathered were told that the president would make all decisions on the new law and that its basic structure had already been determined and was non-negotiable. Group members also learned they could not suggest topics for discussion or be informed on how topics were chosen. There have been no drafts to review and no explanation of how the group’s comments are being integrated into the drafting process.”

Wilfore concluded: “In a Jan. 30 interview with The Washington Post, Yanukovych pledged his intention to hear a broad range of international and domestic voices as part of the reform process, which NDI and others applauded. But that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.” onyshkiv@kyivpost.com

21.03.11. Sevastopol: Russian fleet stirs passions in Ukraine

8 March 2011

Daniel Sandford

Last April the Ukrainian government signed an agreement allowing Russia's Black Sea Fleet to continue using Sevastopol as a base.

Amid angry scenes in the parliament in Kiev, it extended Russia's lease until 2042, in exchange for cheaper gas.


A strategic military port

From the many viewpoints in the city you can look down on the inlets of the famous natural harbour.

Nestling in the shelter of the hills you can see the dark grey Russian ships, often moored alongside ships of the small Ukrainian navy.

Sevastopol was founded by Russia in 1783 and has remained an important strategic military port ever since.

In nearby Balaklava an extraordinary James Bond-style submarine cave was carved into the seacliffs.

But in 1954, when the Soviet Union seemed inviolable, the Crimean peninsula was transferred for administrative purposes from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

When Ukraine broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 it took Crimea, and Sevastopol, with it.

The Soviet Navy split up. Officers had to decide whether to serve in the Russian Navy or the Ukrainian Navy.

One of those who chose to serve his native Ukraine was former Captain Vadim Makhno.

On a bluff overlooking the harbour he told me that he understood that Sevastopol was not very Ukrainian, but he explained that it was not in his countrymen's nature to give things up.

"I can't imagine a mechanism which will let Sevastopol become a part of Russia without blood being spilt," Captain Makhno said.

"Nobody here thinks seriously about attacking Russia, but to just give something away is impossible. The Russians need to think about whether they really need the fleet here."


Complete aerticle [ here ].

28.03.11. Ex-President of Ukraine Is Implicated in 2000 Killing

Published: March 22, 2011

MOSCOW — The former president of Ukraine whose political skulduggery helped precipitate that country’s democratic Orange Revolution seven years ago was officially named on Tuesday as a suspect in the killing of a prominent investigative journalist.

Former President Leonid D. Kuchma, who served from 1994 to 2005, has repeatedly denied involvement in the 2000 murder of the journalist, Georgy Gongadze, and has withstood numerous efforts to bring him to trial for the crime.

But, in a case that has become a test of Ukraine’s ability to break fully with an era of raucous and sometimes bloody politics after the Soviet collapse, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Tuesday that it now had enough evidence to link Mr. Kuchma, that era’s most prominent official, to the killing.

“Leonid Danilovich Kuchma is suspected of overstepping his authority, giving illegal orders to officials from the Interior Ministry that led to the murder of the journalist,” Renat Kuzmin, Ukraine’s first deputy prosecutor general, told journalists in Kiev.

Mr. Kuzmin did not elaborate on the former president’s precise role, saying only that the investigation was proceeding. Mr. Kuchma has not been arrested, and it is not certain that he will be. He has been forbidden to leave Ukraine.

It is unclear why prosecutors have only now opened a criminal case against Mr. Kuchma, nearly 11 years after Mr. Gongadze’s headless corpse was discovered in a forest outside Kiev.

The decision comes a year after Mr. Kuchma’s onetime protégé, Viktor F. Yanukovich, was elected president. Yet, it was the killing of Mr. Gongadze that became a rallying point for leaders of the Orange Revolution in 2004, which thwarted Mr. Yanukovich’s first presidential bid after it became clear he stole the elections with Mr. Kuchma’s aid.

Mr. Gongadze, a young, technologically savvy journalist, founded a muckraking Internet newspaper, Ukrainska Pravda, shortly before he was killed. He had rankled the authorities with reports on corruption and nefarious political dealings.

Almost immediately after his killing in September 2000, Mr. Kuchma’s opponents began accusing him of complicity in the crime. That year, a former bodyguard released tapes in which a voice similar to Mr. Kuchma’s is heard discussing Mr. Gongadze with Ukraine’s interior minister, telling the official to “drive him out; throw him out.”

The authorities have jailed two former police officers for carrying out the murder, and a third is awaiting trial.

The identity of the mastermind, however, has long been elusive. Last year, prosecutors said that Mr. Kuchma’s former interior minster, Yuri F. Kravchenko, had ordered the killing.

But, by that point Mr. Kravchenko was already dead, shot to death in 2005 in what the authorities said was a suicide.