Friday, June 28, 2013

The young always win in the end...

'Segodnya' publishes the results of an opinion poll whether Ukrainians support entry into the European Union, or favour entry into a Customs Union with Russia and other former Soviet countries.

According to a poll 42% of respondents support entry into the EU, whilst 31% support accession to the Customs Union.

13.5% of Ukrainians believe that Ukraine should join neither the EU or the CU.

However if the results are broken down by age, 54% of 18-29 year olds lean in the European direction, and only 19% support entry into the CU.

Among people aged 60 and over, 45% support joining the CU with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and 30% favour the EU.

The result is very clear - Ukraine has only one way to go..

['Segodna' is owned by Rinat Akhmetov...Ukraine's oligarchs are strongly in favour of Euro-integration and are fearful of their businesses being gobbled up by Russian magnates..]

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why events in Chausove are so significant

Prominent journalist Serhiy Vysotsky on the site explains why the events in Chausove-2, [about which I have been blogging several times recently], are so significant.

Below is a summary of his article:

The use of skinhead thugs in political conflicts is fraught with unpredictable consequences. Non interference by security forces leaves citizens with no choice but to rely on themselves for self-protection. 

The money that a businessman Arkady Kornatsky invested in 'Batkivshchyna' for his nomination in last year's parliamentary election was not in vain.

It is rather baffling why in their attempt to extort Kornatsky's business, local competitors affiliated to top government figures have not utilised the normal power and law enforcement agencies. Most likely, this was not approved by Kyiv.

To press a candidate from the opposition so openly using the prosecutor's office, the police and the courts, months before an important Euro summit was risky. Therefore, given the greed and determination to 'break' the obstinate landowner, a "gangster scenario" was chosen.

At first glance nothing new happened. Property rights in Ukraine are often opaque, land registers suspect, and flexible judges can be bought off.

However, virtually all property raids until now have been given a veneer of legal legitimacy. Raiders always enlist the help of judges and make sure 'Berkut' special forces are on hand to assist. And the fact that in the case of Kornatsky the authorities (even thought they were local) did not resort to the normal raiding procedure but rather resorted to banal thuggery, suggests that we are beginning to deal with an unprecedented situation for the country.

It is believed that the power of states is inversely proportional to the level of corruption, crime rates and levels of illegitimate violence. An authoritarian regime as a rule, builds a strong state. Heavy regulation of the economy and suppression of crime are the classic characteristics of a monolithic repressive dictatorship apparatus. E.g. it is difficult to imagine that the Belarus authorities would use gangsters to solve their problems. Internal security forces do this on their own.

The current system of government in Ukraine is unique. It is a kind of mock state - an outwardly attractive stage set in which it is possible to stumble upon a secret door. An attractive painted backdrop encourages investors to invest in a promising country that has bright prospects in the European Union. But in reality behind the secret door lies 'obschak' [an organised criminal network], black accounting procedures, and hidden arsenals of weapons.

The state in this case is just a cover for organised criminal gangs - a huge shell company. Shell companies have their own accountants, managers, a pretty girl at the reception desk, as well as their own funds. But real purpose they serve for their shareholders is not true development (albeit by authoritarian or dictatorial methods), but rather the laundering of shady profits and transfer of money to secure hidden accounts. In such a state, everything gets turned upside down to the extent that the right of legitimate use of force is handed over by the police to thugs.

What happened on the Kornatsky farmland was a testing of the technology that will be used in 2015 during the presidential elections. The recipe is simple - the police do not intervene and do not interfere, as during the protest action on May 18 in Kyiv. On the contrary, people were dispersed on that day by unidentified "anti-fascists".

Observers during last autumn's parliamentary election were not ejected by 'Berkut' special forces but by muscular "journalists." Protocols of the election results were destroyed not by officials but by thieves who broke in through the window.

Security forces seem to cast a blind eye to all of these events. [Your blogger has been told by witnesses on the spot that this was indeed the case at disputed electoral constituency #223 in Kyiv.]

This technology is not new. In local elections in Mukacheve in 2004, bandit resources were employed by the Social Democratic Party when they clashed with supporters of the Baloha clan.

Use of skinheads and thugs in political conflicts is fraught with unpredictable consequences. When you are being attacked not the police but by a pack of thugs you are entitled to defend yourself and save your life by any means necessary. In this war is difficult to predict a winner. The opposition needs to be concerned not just about how to resist administrative pressure, but also bandit violence.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Police again assembling thugs in Pervomaysk

Today's 'ord-ua' website runs another post by Volodymyr Boyko on latest developments in Chausove-2, where an agro-company linked to the son of the current presecutor-general of Ukraine, Artem Pshonka, and a close associate of president Yanukovych, Mykola Kruglov, have been waging a war with local farmers to seize their lands together with this summer's harvest.

[See my previous post on how 80 armed thugs were repelled by farmers and their families several days ago here ]

Below is a summary of Boyko's piece:

On June 22 2013 head of the Mykolaiv Oblast State Administration Mykola Kruglov held a broad-based meeting with representatives of the regional prosecutor's office, SBU and the MVD. The meeting was convened following the June 18 attack by an armed gang on the inhabitants of the village of Chausovo-2. The criminal gang was led by Oksana Valeshynska, a solicitor from Nikolaev, who, by these means tried to seize the fields of  "Agrofirma Kornatskykh" and gather the harvest of barley grown by its farmers.

During the meeting Kruglov harshly criticized the deeds of Valeshynska and the head of Ukrainian Internal Affairs Administration in the Mykolaiv region, Valentina Persenyuk, who failed to accomplish their set task and rob the peasants.

A man of approximately 40 years of age who Kruglov called Ihor and introduced as a Kyiv authority [criminal authority] responsible for supplying the band of thugs, was particularly angry. In the words of Igor, Parsenyuk failed to organise a "Berkut" special forces unit to support the attackers in Pervomaysk. This allowed the farmers to resist the gangsters and call journalists and MPs for support. Because of this news agencies were able to quickly broadcast details of what was going on, and social networking site users were able to instantly identify the assailants.

Kruglov ordered the audience to take immediate decisive action to halt the activities of "Agrofirma Kornatskykh" next week - to commit armed attacks on other departments of the company, to rob stores, to stop trucks and to take away the grain which they are transporting. According Kruglov, all looted property should by convey to Vradiyivskiy elevator, whose managers have already received appropriate instructions.

Kruglov also presented a businessman, Yuriy Karapetovych Khahanyana, who will sell the stolen grain instead of Valeshynska because the latter did not inspire much confidence. The governor stressed that the proceeds will be divided "50-50":  half for Yuriy Karapyetovich and half for us. Obviously, under the pronoun "us" Kruglov was referring to himself and the son of Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Artem Pshonka who the media regularly call organisers of the attempted seizure of "Agrofirma Kornatskykh."

Under the plan, which Kruglov plans to execute between 25 and 28 June, depending on weather, police are supposed to surround the area of the inevitable fighting, and  not allow journalists and MPs into the fields.

According Kruglov, the plan, agreed with the Administration of the President, includes provision of "correct" media coverage by the "Inter" tv channel. Stooges have also been prepared to appear in broadcast material.

"The main thing, said Kruglov - do not let Kornatsky gather the harvest."

F.N. comment: The events in Chausove, Pervomaysk oblast have certainly been approved by the highest authorities in the land. Kruglov was appointed Mykolayiv governor by Yanukovych in March 2010, a few days after he become president; he was PM Azarov's deputy when the latter ran the State Tax Administration. 

This is becoming a trial of strength which the authorities have decided they cannot lose...even though "Agrofirma Kornatskykh" employs over 15,000 loyal farmers who provided its boss Arkadiy Kornatsky with nearly 30,000 votes in last year's parliamentary elections. His victory was stolen from him.... In the eyes of the authorities he has dared to resist...he must be destroyed.

p.s. 15 minute news report with videos of the violent events that took place in Chausove on June 18 here . It is most apparent that numerous completely demoralised? law enforcement officers watched and did nothing as innocent victims were being assaulted by armed thugs...certainly aware that their police chiefs were co-organisers of this lawlessness.

Is this the picture of Ukraine Yanukovych and co. want to portray to possible outside investors?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yats at Brookings - Leshchenko in London

Yatsenkyuk at the Brookings Institute - 1 Hour 20 Minute podcast here [Recommended - well worth listening to..]


Several months ago The London Ukrainian Institute offered a hearty welcome [lots of brown-nosing etc.] to ex president Viktor Yushchenko,

Yushchenko is the man who, as a prosecution witness,  gave highly dubious testimony at  Yulia Tymoshenko's 2010 trial. Yet without Tymoshenko's unqualified support during the Orange Revolution it is most unlikely Yushchenko would ever have become president.

One of the reasons why many of Ukraine's leaders are held in such low esteem is because of their blatant, widely recognised, politically motivated persecution of political opposition leaders like Tymoshenko ....aided and abetted, of course, by Yushchenko himself..

In a few day's time "Ukraine’s leading investigative journalist" Serhiy Leshchenko is to present his new book "The American saga of Pavlo Lazarenko" at the London Ukrainian Institute.

According to the London Ukrainian Institute's website:

"Sergii [sic.] Leshchenko is a leading Ukrainian investigative journalist and Civil Society activist. He specialises in anti-corruption investigations and political issues, and is renowned for his articles published in Ukraine’s most popular online publication Ukrainska Pravda. He has carried out journalistic investigations into the incumbent Ukrainian President’s lifestyle and financial interests of the ‘new Ukrainian elite’. "

A few years ago, during a press conference, Leshchenko asked the-then pres. Yushchenko a question about his son's spoilt brat Andriy's frequent boorish, antisocial behaviour. The president gave Leshchenko a humiliating public dressing down and called him "a killer".

I hope somebody at the London Ukrainian Institute asks prize-winning journalist Leshchenko what he thinks of Yushchenko....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yulka's choice,,,and Yanukovych's choice

Vitaliy Pornikov, in an interesting comment, ponders over the recent visit of German Foreign Minister Westerwelle  to Ukraine.

Until now the German government's position on the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko has been most firm - in their eyes it is a clear case of selective justice which hinders Ukraine's efforts for closer Euro-integration.

Westerwelle's visit could be an indication that Yanukovych may be reconsidering his position on Tymoshenko, and may even  possibly agree to allow his mortal foe to be released for medical treatment in Germany.

In order for all participants to save face, (Germany having already agreed to take Tymoshenko), the optimum option would be for Yanukovych to agree to her relocation, and for Tymoshenko herself to agree to go along with this.

She has a big decision to make - only she really knows how bad her medical condition is - how desperately she needs treatment; whether she will have greater influence on Ukrainian politics locked up in a closed hospital ward or prison cell in Ukraine, or from abroad.

If she refuses to go in spite of a possible humanitarian gesture from Yanukovych, faces will still be saved - the Ukrainian president would be more than happy if he makes the gesture but Tymoshenko refused to go. As Portnikov says, he will still have the bird in the cage, and the Association Agreement in his locker.

But Yanukovych is beginning to realise that if he refuses, it could be political suicide. If this were not the case Guido Westerwelle would not have been visiting Kyiv.

F.N. thinks releasing Tymoshenko would grate every instinct of a man with the criminal background of Yanukovych..never...ever give your enemy a second chance...An unshackled Tymoshenko becomes master of her own fate longer under his control...she has already brought down the last two Ukrainian presidents to their knees...

Gangster state

In my previous blog I described how a company linked to prosecutor-general of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka and his son Artem, had sent 80 hired thugs to seize the property belonging to Mykolayiv-based 'Agrofirma Kornatskykh' agro-company.

The owner of the company, Arkadiy Kornyatsky, was cheated of victory in last autumn's parliamentary elections in the disputed Election Commission constituency number 132 in Pervomaysk. Bands of thugs violently disrupted the election count which was so fraudulent that it was belatedly declared unsatisfactory.

Veteran independent journalist, Volodymyr Boyko, who has featured in many of my previous blogs, provides many details [here and here] of the brazenly diabolical scheme cooked up by the Pshonkas to seize 1700 ha of this prime farmland.

They also tried to steal this year's harvest planted and tended by the Kornatsky company, which has now farmed the land for over a decade and a half.

'Partner Agro', the company behind the pirate raid, were registered last year in the name of a minor Mykolayiv lawyer. Previously, Artem Pshonka  via his 'kum' [a godfather of his children] had several times tried to buy out 50% of 'Agrofirma Kornatskykh' from its owner, but when they refused to sell, the Pshonka's devised a despicable scheme to take over all of the land.

By manipulation of various land ownership/rent schemes they divided up the land into 2 ha plots and attempted to cobble together and organise 775 declarations from individuals supposedly prepared to farm each individual small plot. 'Partner Agro' would then take over each of these 775 plots and gain control of the entire farmland.

In order to do this, they rounded up local civil servants, staff at the regional medical centre, library workers etc. and forced them to fill in application forms even though most of them had absolutely no interest in becoming smallholders. They allegedly received 1,500 Hryven for their signatures on the necessary documentation.

When the organisers were unable to gather the required number of application forms in time they resorted to banal forgery using names and addresses from tax data bases, and even used names at random with no address. All these applications were then packed off to the local land registry offices.

When the people whose names figured as new tenants of the small individual plots were sent documents informing them that as smallholders they would no longer be able to benefit from state welfare payments, and that they would have to pay rent, they were outraged that they had been taken advantage of. Many were not even aware their names had been used in the fraudulent scheme.

Their appeals and protests made to local law enforcement bodies and local courts were all but ignored as soon as these institutions became aware who was behind the machinations..

In his article Boyko claims the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs Administration in the Mykolayiv oblast himself hired the 80 or so thugs who attempted to raid the 'Agrofirma Kornatskykh' agro-company last week in Chausove-2. The nominee head of 'Partner Agro' allegedly supplied the weaponry used by them. These were later discovered in her automobile.

Several of the hired thugs were detained, but were released having been charged with the minor charge of 'hooliganism' even though they had been hired from several cities and had figured in other 'raids' elsewhere and had inflicted serious wounds to several victims. Later these victims were allegedly kicked out of hospital in an attempt to 'whitewash' the mass assaults that had taken place.

Yanukovych and the Pshonkas go back a long way. Yanuk is 37-year old Artem's godfather...
Parliamentary deputy Artem is now deputy head of PoR's parliamentary fraction...

Can there be any better evidence that Ukraine has now become a gangster state?

p.s. Boyko has written a book about how Pshonka and co. had previously seized a granite quarry in Mykolayiv...its owner was killed...More on this story when it becomes available on the website.


Pictured above: Viktor Pshona's and Viktor Yanukovych's wives. The former allegedly uses the same hairdresser as Donald Trump. [check this out  ;-) 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The pirates return...

Last November I blogged about how V.R. deputy Artem Pshonka, son of current Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka, was trying to seize the Mykolayiv-based 'Agrofirma Kornatskykh' agro-company by the dirtiest of means. 'ORD' website call Pshonka Jr. 'raider No.1 in Ukraine'.

The owner of the company, Arkadiy Kornyatsky, was cheated of victory in last autumn's parliamentary elections in the disputed Election Commission constituency number 132 in Pervomaysk. There was serious trouble there and Kornyatsky was forced to flee abroad for a while.

The dispute has now escalated further. Today about 80 thugs, some firing pneumatic weapons, tried to take over  the disputed agro-company's premises in the village of Chausove-2 but were beaten back.

At least five people were seriously injured. [Videos here]

Well-known lawyer and civil rights lawyer, Tetyana Montyan, has stated that the company "Partner-Agro", which is attempting to seize the 'Agrofirma Kornatskykh's property, was formed and registered in order to do this by fraudulent means and is under control of the son of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Artem Pshonka.

She provides documentary evidence of what she calls a major raider scheme in her blog here .

Veteran investigative journalist Volodymyr Boyko, in a television appearance, claimed that
the organizers and sponsors were known to him - they were Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka and his son - Artem Pshonka....

During the raid, police were nowhere to be seen, but there were reports they had assisted the raiders' column of combine harvesters approach the site.

In response, the governor of Mykolayiv oblast, Yanukovych-appointed Mykola Kruglov, claims the company no longer belongs to the Kornyatsky's. If this is the case, why the piratical, violent raid? Why not use legal means to regain control?

This saga 'has legs' and will run and run...

How can the EU sign any Association Agreement with Ukraine while these kind of events, of which there are many - some involving the highest in the land, continue to take place? Who is going to invest in Ukaine's big hope for the future - its agro-industry?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

EU correct to insist Ukraine smartens up before signing AA

Ever the apologist, Adrian Karatnycky considers the EU is making a mistake by making the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement conditional on the release of imprisoned former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

Yulia Tymoshenko, as any Ukrainian citizen, is entitled to fair treatment and a fair trial.

The European Court of Human Rights have already declared her rights have been violated - she was wrongfully detained before her 2011 trial for 'exceeding her powers' as PM.

The ECHR are now determining whether her human rights were abused during the trial itself.

Whilst the undisputed leader of the political opposition in Ukraine finds herself in this situation a big question mark hangs over Ukraine's democratic credentials.

Until such time that Tymoshenko's guilt in any crimes is clearly shown to be 'beyond reasonable doubt' in the eyes of European observers, her persecution will be considered politically motived.

The risible evidence presented so far in pre-trial hearings which prosecutors claim link Tymoshenko to the murder of Yevhen Shcherban over a decade and a half ago only hardens these observers' opinion - the opposition leader is being persecuted for political reasons.

As such, few European leaders will support signing of an AA with Ukraine, particularly as all of Ukraine's present and past leaders and their pals, have very shady past histories and continue to abuse their status.... stealing millions....

p.s Even if Tymoshenko will be allowed to travel to another country, probably Germany, for medical treatment, as ever-stronger rumours indicate, there is no sign Ukraine's slide into authoritarianism would slow down. Clinching the AA deal will make little difference... Yanukovych's thuggish insistence Tymoshenko pays a 1.6Bn Hryven 'fine' and declines to take any further part in Ukrainian politics in order to buy her release will make western leaders squirm..Does Yanukovych seriously believe that any western politician would undertake to broker and guarantee such a deal? If so, the man is seriously out of touch with reality.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Credibility of court of last resort destroyed

Last week Ukraine's Constitutional Court ruled that the elections for Kyiv Mayor and Council can now be postponed until October 2015.

Yanukovych and Party of Regions' are totally aware that if already-postponed elections were to take place any time in the near future they would be 'hammered' in the capital, and vast corruption schemes would pass into the hands of others. Defeat in Kyiv would be a watershed event and Yanukovych's chance of re-election in 2015 would be much diminished.

In April 2010, just after Yanukovych became president,  the Constitutional Court controversially fiddled the rules, specifically concerning so-called 'Imperative Mandate provisions', on how parliamentary majorities were to be formed. This allowed the orange parliamentary coalition to be dumped and Yulia Tymoshenko to be dismissed as PM. The ruling was at odds with Courts previous ruling and the wording of Ukraine's Constitution itself.

In October 2010, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court repealed a December 2004 law which introduced a constitutional amendment changing the system of government from a presidential-parliamentary to a parliamentary-presidential one.  President Yanukovych's authority was greatly enhanced.

Last week's ruling, perhaps the most controversial of all, yet again proves the Constitutional Court has become a puppet court controlled by Yanukovych and his cronies.

As Vitaliy Pornikov points out in his blog:

"In our country, no-one has any confidence in the Constitutional Court, and cannot have, because we all understand this is not a Constitutional Court, but just another department in the presidential administration.

 This department is vitally important -  Viktor Yanukovych owes his powers to it, Mykola Azarov his premiership, and Alexander Popov [the current acting mayor] - his control of an unelected administration in Kyiv. It was the Constitutional Court, not the voters, and not even members of parliament who gave them this power.

The Court makes crucial  decisions for the country, but does not possess any credibility with its citizens - and that's frightening. Frightening because, even in a society so degraded from the point of view of the law, the Constitutional Court should be a credible Court of the Last Resort.

p.s. Opinion is hardening in the EU that without a solution to the Tymoshenko problem there can be no signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in November.

One noted analyst claims: 'For most countries of the EU the groundless imprisonment of Tymoshenko is a red line which they will not cross..'

There are significant behind-the-scenes negotiations going on. According to the Polish 'Gazeta Wyborcza' a compromise could be struck if Tymoshenko were to be dispatched from her hospital ward/prison cell to Germany for medical treatment, but the former PM rules out such a possibility unless all criminal charges against her are dropped and the criminal conviction against her for exceeding her powers is nullified.