Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tymoshenko's position bolstered

Whatever positive spin Ukraine's smart-arsed politician will try and place on today's ECHR verdict - this is the unvarnished truth from an impeccable source: 

Court: Ukraine breached human rights of former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko

Judges today decided that Ukraine breached the human rights of former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko.
The European Court of Human Rights held in particular that Tymoshenko’s pre-trial detention had been arbitrary, that the lawfulness of her detention had not been properly reviewed and, that she had no possibility to seek compensation for her unlawful deprivation of liberty.
In its judgment in the case of Tymoshenko v. Ukraine (application no. 49872/11), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights;

a violation of Article 5 § 4 (right to a speedy review of the lawfulness of detention);
a violation of Article 5 § 5 (right to compensation for unlawful detention);

a violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) in conjunction with Article 5;
and it held, by a majority, that there had been no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) in respect of Ms Tymoshenko’s alleged ill-treatment during her transfer to hospital on 20 April 2012 and the effectiveness of the investigation of those complaints.
The case concerned complaints related to the detention of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. The court found that, given that the judge had referred to her alleged hindering of the proceedings and contemptuous behaviour, her right to liberty had been restricted for other reasons than those permissible under Article 5.
Tymoshenko can now say with fear of contradiction her detention was unlawful...her human rights violated, and,because she was such a high profile political figure -  this was politically motivated...
This will not be easy to 'paper over'....

Monday, April 29, 2013

EC commissioner's spokesman all but accuses Yanuk's man of fibbing about Tymoshenko

"EC labels alleged removal of Tymoshenko's issue from EU-Ukraine agenda as 'paid advertisement'

"The spokesman for the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule, Peter Stano, has described reports about the alleged removal of the issue of Tymoshenko from the agenda of the EU-Ukraine relations a 'paid advertisement' and 'misleading information.'"

Peter Stano names [and shames?] 'Segodnya' newspaper and head of Ukraine's National Security Council, Andriy Kluyev...

One of Kluyev's briefs, as official 'Euro-integrational curator'  is to lubricate links between EU/Ukraine and improve chances of signing of the AA.....he is clearly screwing up on this....

Watch video of what Stano said here 

PS. European Court of Human Rights will give its judgement on the Tymoshenko Vs Ukraine case at 10.30 am local time.

This woman will continue to cast a giant shadow  Ukrainian politics...

Will Germans go soft on Yanuk?

The authoritative Polish 'Gazeta Wyborcza' in an article following the visit to Kyiv of the foreign ministers of Poland, Denmark, Lithuania an the Netherlands, claims the possibility that an association agreement with the EU in November will be signed is growing, even if former PM Yulia Tymoshenko remains in jail.

They claim Germany, the country with the most sceptic attitude to Ukraine's euro-integration, has recently been getting highly 'pissed off' with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. They see ever-increasing pressure being applied on already weak political opposition, on what remains of independent media, and other independent NGO's. A report by Human Rights Watch states civil liberties are being violated with a brutality not seen since the fall of communism. Even premises of German-funded research foundations have been raided.

Because of all this, the article claims the German foreign affair ministry in particular is ever-more fearful that if the AA is not signed Ukraine may succumb to Russian pressure and enter into a Customs Union with that country, Belarus and Kazakhstan, thus spreading authoritarianism deeper westward.

[Chancellor Merkel thus far has been a staunch defender of Yulia Tymoshenko, even comparing Yanukovych's Ukraine with Lukashenko's Belarus. But fresh elections will take place in September in Germany...]

Your humble blogger does not buy this argument. Increased authoritarianism in Russia should, logically make Yanukovych more accommodating to European leaders appeals, rather than less [unless he wants to go down that route too].

Democratic countries in the western portion of Europe are the ones most uneasy about the systematic roll-back of democracy in Ukraine. Even is some kind of fudged deal is signed in November, ratification in their individual national parliaments is a long way off and is unlikely to take place whilst Yanukovych is president..

p.s In 2012's Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index Ukraine was placed at the 144th place of the 176 countries investigated (tied with Bangladesh, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Syria).

Back in 2007 Ukraine had taken the 118th place...[Source..]

Do any western politicians really think signing any AA with the current regime will reverse this slide?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What the hell is going on at TVi?

Good analysis from the excellent Graham Stack here

There are grave suspicions expressed by respectable journalists that 'Simya' and their operator, vice PM Serhiy Arbuzov are behind the 'raid on TVi.  [Also here ]

Yet, as Stack mentions: "Controversially, the new owner Altman is crucially backed by the channel's former CEO, prominent journalist Mikhailo Knyazhitsky, who was elected to parliament for the opposition party Batkyvschina in November 2013, as well as by chief news editor and talk-show host Vitaly Portnikov. 

Both men justify their position by saying the exact opposite to Kagalovskiy – that the new owners have actually prevented the channel from being sold to structures close to the ruling Party of Regions and the family of President Viktor Yanukovych."

Other journalists doubt whether 'Simya' are involved, and see the conflict as a battle between shady offshore owners intending to sell on TVi 'when the price is right'. Both Knyazhitsky's and Pornikov's track records are impeccable - they are amongst the most ethically sound journalists in Ukraine... so the striking TVi staff and journalists are absolutely correct in demanding total transparency and a clearing of the air by previous/new owners before returning to work.

But, imo,  the clincher that there are dirty deeds afoot? - The unannounced gangster-like manner in which the TV company's premises were raided and taken over...maybe an 'each way' bet?

p.s. Key prosecution witness, Petro Kirichenko, who now resides in the USA, was scheduled to testify in the pre-trial Yevhen Shcherban murder trial via video link, but this has been postponed until May 15 at the request of the Ukrainian consul in San Francisco. Postponement was requested and granted for unspecified 'technical reasons'.

Tymoshenko's defence team have turned the tables on Kirichenko, and now have officially contacted the US Department of Justice to investigate his possible involvement in Shcherban's murder in 1996.

He himself admitted he was personally involved in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Dnipropetrovsk crime boss 'Matros' as alleged payment for Shcherban's killing, but claimed he did not know "the true intentions of Tymoshenko and Lazarenko," Difficult to believe, knowing Matros's notoriety..

Kirichenko is in a very tricky position. Having given many hours of evidence to US law enforcement agencies, he must be careful not to perjure himself when [if?] he testifies in the pre-trial hearing. If he does it would put him in very 'hot water' indeed in the USA. He knows well how Pavlo Lazarenko, his former boss on whom he ratted,was treated...

In November 1996, senior PoR parliamentarian, Mikhaylo Chechetov, then member of Shcherban's parliamentary faction, addressed parliament two days after Shcherban's murder. He blamed the criminal underworld for the killings, complaining that even the attempted assassination of the then PM Pavlo Lazarenko a few months previously, had not been solved.

It was clear from his statement that at that time 'Donetski' did not consider Tymoshenko in any way responsible for Shcherban's death. Until Yanukovych became president neither did anyone else...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Insider dealing by Ukraine's ministers exposed at PACE

Testimony before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

March 19, 2013

"Ukraine’s proven reserves of natural gas are amongst the largest in the world. Tapping into the Black Sea’s reserves, given the politically delicate region, vast sums of money involved and insatiable global thirst for energy create opportunities for grand corruption.

According to reporting and documents published by Ukranian NGO Anticorruption ActionCentre, in March 2011, a subsidiary of the state owned Naftogaz bought an oil rig from a U.K.-registered company for $400 million, a 60% increase over the then market value of $250 million.

More than a year after the equipment should have been delivered, it has not. In questioning the cause for the $150 million premium, and failure to deliver the equipment, journalists and civil society investigators have uncovered a network of shell companies that obscured a purportedly competitive procurement process and masked a multi-million dollar assault on the Ukrainian Treasury allegedly perpetrated by a small group of individuals with close ties to high ranking public officials.The Anticorruption Action Centre reports that the two “competing” companies for the equipment sale share a common director. 

The same name appears as the director of the winning company and as the director of the parent company of the losing company. It appears as though there was no true competition at all.But even if the procurement process had been open and competitive, it is unclear what the Ukrainian government is getting for its money. Apparently, the rig has not yet been delivered.Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda uncovered that an 80% down payment on therig was paid and deposited into the winning U.K.-registered company’s account at a small Latvian bank.

The site’s investigative reporting also revealed a set of close relationships that raise serious questions about how the transaction came about, including the commonality between management of Ukrainian state-owned natural resource companies, the involved banks, the winning-bidding company, Russian criminal organizations and Ukrainian public officials.

What has been uncovered in this and other transactions in Ukraine rig sales reeks of insider dealing at the expense of citizens who cannot afford the bleeding of their national wealth. 

It appears that Latvia has and the U.K. may have initiated criminal investigations into this matter."


Why should Europe's leaders have any dealings with such brazen crooks? Or sign any deal - these guys will probably steal the pens...and the toilet paper....
[Photo source]

p.s. Former interior minister spent over two years on the scandalously dubious charges.
In total his actions allegedly resulted in losses of $125,000 to the state.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Biggest beast in Europe speaks out on Ukraine

Ukraine's efforts to satisfy specified conditions laid down by the EU in order that an Association Agreement be signed in November this year have been half-hearted and wholly unconvincing.

Despite this, your humble blogger considers Ukrainian politicians of all colours have consistently overestimated the desire of the EU to clinch this Association Agreement deal, and the overestime the chances of this taking place.

Some observers claim the EU have 'given up' on Tymoshenko, but by some kind of 'cock-eyed logic' suggest signing of the AA could take place if it was possibly combined with sanctions directed at individuals responsible for persecution of opposition leaders. [Hardly a sound start to any long-term relationship].

Yet everyone is aware that Tymoshenko's imprisonment was ordered solely at the command of the man who became president having received less that 50% of votes cast when he narrowly beat Tymoshenko in the two-horse race for the presidency. It was the narrowness of this victory that drove Yanukovych to eliminate his greatest rival from the political stage.

Now bluff-talking German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made her position crystal-clear:

'Deutsche Welle' reports: "For Ukraine to move closer to the EU it must resolve "a whole series of problems," said Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday, April 17, after talks with Prime Minister of Estonia Andrus Ansip. But she stressed that the development of closer relations with Ukraine remains an aim for the EU.

According to Merkel, the case of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is not the only obstacle to the signing of the AA the EU. "In general we are talking about the legal system in Ukraine and respect for human rights and civil liberties" - she said. That's why the signing of the long-agreed document is now frozen.

Was Merkel deliberately spiking Kwasniewski and Cox's guns?

Gangster talk in Donetsk oblast

Mayor of Slovyansk, Nelya Shtepa recently publicly addressed city officials. [Video here]

Dressing down the city architect, she said: "I'm tired of you, I'm tired of you! Your idle life today is in no way suited to the life of our city. The city works, all the people are working, and only you remain idle! Enough of this! If you fell under my arm when I went round the city this morning, then you would have been buried today! I do not hit twice, only once...[once] in the snout [morda], and then once on the coffin lid. Straight away - on the coffin lid!"

Slavyonsk is a medium-sized town in the Donetsk oblast, known for its spa.

No wonder the oblast has a gangster reputation because it seems such declarations are quite normal there...but would any decent person do business with such a woman? In such a town where such threats can be made with impunity?

p.s. Shtepa could have a glittering career ahead of her....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Party of Regions parliamentary deputies continue to steal votes in parliament, despite their solemn undertaking to cut out such anti-constitutional behaviour.

Because of laziness, not being bothered to turn up, or lack of party discipline, the ruling majority is still incapable of honestly garnering the 226+ votes necessary to pass new legislation. PoR faction leader Yefremov puts the high absentee rate down to a nebulous 'human factor'

However, when no journalists or members of the opposition are present to scrutinise proceedings, as during the hijacked April 4 session, held behind closed doors in a small cinema, Hey presto! they can assemble 244 pro-government members, no problem.

President Yanukovych, together with many other Ukrainian politicians delude themselves on their relationship with mature western democracies. Today the president said: "We have an ambitious goal - to sign the Association Agreement in November this year with the EU at  Vilnius summit....The process of euro-integration is lengthy. There are criteria toward which Ukraine is striving; and above all, we are interested in this, because it is the modernisation of our country, it is our success."

One problem: No respectable politician or businessman will have any lasting relationship with such 'stone-age' kurokrady....

*In Eastern Europe a kurokrad [lit. chicken thief] was the epithet given to to petty thief. In villages chickens grazed freely - only the lowest of the low would stoop so low as to steal his neighbour's chickens.

p.s. TVi report seasoned Ukrainian politician and latterly presidential adviser, Valeriy Konovalyuk, has quit PoR in a huff.

The youthful Konovalyuk struck me as being from the same mould as Vitaliy Khoroskovsky, [who also recently walked out of Ukrainian politics], and Serhiy Tihipko - all bright, eloquent, highly presentable performers.

Without such people Party of Regions' look ever more like a bunch of old crocodiles - like PM Azarov, parliamentary speaker Rybak, Yefremov (see above) - same old faces that have been around too long.

The new young Donbas guys linked to 'The Family' who have been assigned the construction of a power monopoly structure headed by Yanukovych, shy away from publicity and the cut and thrust of politics.

Konovalyuk laments: "All of my numerous requests and documents about the situation in the country, about failing and inefficient economic policies, the absence of real reform, the extent of corruption and abuse, of the low standard of the executive authority and its discipline, and much, much more ... What is happening today (about which I have repeatedly warned) - is a direct path to crisis and the bankruptcy of the country. It is a complete rejection of the promises and obligations given three years ago, and the betrayal of those who for many years have supported and believed in the development and the prosperity of Ukraine,"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ukraine's legal system completely discredited

Today Ukraine's Higher Administrative court deemed the hijacked 4th April parliamentary session which was held in a small cinema hall close to the main parliament building, to be legitimate. Opposition MP's had not been informed of the move from the normal parliamentary plenum chamber, and were brusquely refused access when they arrived..

The court claims a quorum i.e. was assembled, and  244 deputies attended the session, even though the parliamentary administration has refused to provide copies of the register containing signatures of those allegedly present. [Probably because it would be a simple task to check if any of these 244 where elsewhere at the time.]

Normally after any voting in the parliamentary plenum chamber, a list of names - who voted in favour, or against, is always posted on the official parliamentary website. This information has not materialised for the 4th April session, denying the electorate the opportunity to check how their individual MP's voted on the bills 'passed'.

No-one even knows for sure how many hands were shown to be in favour of any motion - only pro-government members of the counting committee were present in the hall. Opposition members of the committee were refused admission - access for them was physically denied to them by PoR deputies - so how could these PoR deputies vote when they were patrolling the narrow corridors outside the hall?

How can such a country, where the legal system is such a joke, be admitted to any European democratic institutions?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Thanks...for nothing..

So Yanukovych has succumbed to two years of ferocious arm-twisting by European and global politicians. Today he pardoned Yuriy Lutsenko.

The case against the former Minister of the Interior was preposterous, as is his pardon.

Lutsenko has never requested a pardon - he therefore has nothing to thank Yanukovych for.

On the  contrary - the emotion to 'get even' will be deep - and a gangster like Yanukovych knows this well,

Although imprisoned for well over two years, Lutsenko has been at the forefront of Ukrainian politics. Many European and Ukrainian leaders have visited him in court and in prison, and his name has never left the headlines. His writings are widely broadcast and read, and his opinion has been sought by today's opposition leaders.

The stigma of using selective justice to destroy his enemies will mark Yanukovych for the rest of his life.

Lutsenko with the help of his lawyers will certainly continue to try to clear his name by every means possible, both inside and outside the country, until he is fully rehabilitated. There is a high probability his aim will ultimately be achieved.

p.s. Lutsenko's release did not 'come out of the blue'. So why his humiliation last week?

A final kick up the a** as he walks out of the prison gates?

Sadists to the end....

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Putsch on Bank Street?

According to 'K.P.' Ukraine's parliament split in half today.

The pro-presidential majority conducted an alternative parliament session in a small cinema/conference hall on Bank Street, while the opposition gathered in the regular parliamentary session hall.

The majority's decision to move elsewhere without prior notice was branded as “a coup” by the opposition. They are now calling for protest demonstrations to be held. Ironically, the disappointing turn-out at recent anti-government demos organised by the 'united opposition' may have emboldened the parliamentary majority to such measures.

The small  hall in which the highly questionable "parliamentary session" took place comprises 11 rows of seats with 22 seats in each row, plus 6 other places. If every seat was taken there would only be room for 259 persons in the hall. There are 450 deputies Ukraine's parliament - quite where they all would have fitted had they all turned up is anyone's guess.

Photographs [such as this one from 'Ukrainska Pravda'] and videos tend to indicate that there may well not have even been the 226 deputies required for a quorum present.

The vote on the decision to stage the parliamentary session at an alternative location was not taken in the Verkhovna Rada, but rather by the 'renegades' in the hall on Bank Street. The decision to transfer the parliamentary sitting to Bank Street is therefore highly constitutionally questionable, to say the least.

The parliamentary speaker claimed 244 parliamentary deputies turned up at the alternative location even though everyone knows for the last 20 years absentee voting and other fiddling has been widespread amongst parliamentary deputies ..

Opposition deputies who wanted to get in and journalists who wanted to scrutinise proceedings and check the true number of those present were denied admission, raising much suspicion of foul play. Video recordings outside the entrance to the hall and the building will no doubt be carefully examined to see who was there and who was not.

So..was this a putsch?

At time of writing neither the parliamentary speaker nor the president have signed off resolutions passed today...if/when they do, there may be a clear criminal case to answer some time in the future.

The day's events provide more evidence to what we already know - Ukraine is becoming an authoritarian state - the point of no return has probably already been passed, and the book on Euro-integration closed.

p.s. picking up the bat and ball, declaring "I'm not playing with you any more," and slinking off to another place is not the way winner's behave..

p.p.s. The sh*t will hit the fan soon when big-names holding off-shore accounts in the BVI will be dribbled out...

Update  - Careful checks of videos of renegade deputies entering and leaving the hall on Bank Street reveal in the 244 figure is almost certainly inflated...there was probably fewer that 200 deputies present.

Today's appeal court ruling gives Lutsenko added strength

The Higher Specialised Appeal Court today ordered Yuriy Lutsenko remain in prison to serve the remainder of his term.

Yet again Ukraine's ruling authorities turned down the opportunity to indicate they were prepared to make compromises to European leaders demands he be freed, because in their opinion, his persecution is politically motivated.

Lutsenko was denied the right to make a final address to the court.

Yanukovych has publicly stated that once all legal process is exhausted, as president, he would review the Lutsenko case again. Some [wildly optimistic?] observers consider Yanukovych could even release Lutsenko as a test...if reaction in society is muted, then maybe...maybe.. Tymoshenko could be deported to Germany for treatment.

The European Court of Human Rights can now examine his case in detail. Few doubt they will eventually rule in his favour.

The actions of Yanukovych and his henchmen thus far expose their great fear of Lutsenko, which paradoxically gives him added impetus to continue. Even if he serves his full term in prison and is released at the end of 2014, he will remain a major player in Ukrainian politics. Of the current bunch of   opposition leaders, it seems Klychko is the one who contacts Lutsenko most frequently for advice on political strategy....

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Lutsenko's treatment reveals true face of Ukraine's sadistic authorities

On Tuesday "A dramatic court hearing kicked off in Kyiv that could become pivotal for Ukraine's chances to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union this year."

Former Minister of the Interior, Yuriy Lutsenko, was appearing before the Higher Specialized Appeal Court for Civil and Criminal Cases.

The court room selected was about 15 sq.m. in size - Lutsenko was placed inside a soundproof  'glass aquarium' with a bench against the back wall for him to sit on.

The only way he could communicate with his defence council or others in the courtroom was through a waist-high opening at the side of the glass  box - forcing him to bend down deeply whenever he wished to talk...

Most of the seats in the tiny courtroom were occupied by uniformed officers. Journalists had to sit in an adjacent room and watch proceedings on a plasma screen. There was no room for political colleagues - only his closest family members could attend.

In courtrooms in the European Union, and in most civilised countries, even murderers are not humiliated in this way.

In these countries Lutsenko's alleged crimes would perhaps not even warrant a custodial sentence. The European Court of Human Rights have already declared he had been unfairly held under arrest before his trial. He has served well over half of a four-year sentence and recently underwent a surgical  operation. More surgery may be required in the future.

Lutsenko's disgraceful treatment provides more evidence of the vindictiveness and vengefulness of the Yanukovych regime...and how little they know of the European values to which they aspire..

I shudder to think what European politicans make of this...