Fri Sep 9th, 2005 at 05:41:51 AM EST
bumped by Jerome in view of the new developments, i.e. the sacking by President Yuschenko of his cabinet, starting with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. See the short article added below the fold, and Soj's perceptive comments, as usual 2 days before everybody else...
It looks like the predicted hangover after the big party in Ukraine last December has finally hit home.
The Ukrainian Secretary of State, Oleksandr Zinchenko, resigned on September 3, saying that corruption was now "even worse" than during the previous reign of Leonid Kuchma:
Zinchenko accused Petro Poroshenko, the head of Ukraine's Security and Defense Council, of being one of the most corrupt members of the government. He also criticized Oleksandr Tretyakov, a top aide to Yushchenko, and Mykola Martynenko, who heads the pro-presidential faction in parliament.
Poroshenko attended the news conference, which was broadcast live, and stood in the back frowning as Zinchenko spoke. When Zinchenko completed his prepared statement, lengthy applause broke out in the room.
update by Jerome
Yushchenko sacks government
President Viktor Yushchenko fired the government of Yulia Tymoshenko and dismissed National Security and Defense Council Secretary Petro Poroshenko today, opting for a radical solution to a long-simmering conflict in the power camp.
Speaking at an urgent press conference, Yushchenko said he could no longer act as a "peacekeeper" between his wrangling allies while the Ukrainian economy was slowing down and there was no end in sight to the political bickering.
"We are witnessing a paradox - many new faces have come to power, but the face of power has not changed. Ukraine is again being criticized for corruption and shadowy economic processes," Yushchenko said.
The president appointed his long-time and reform-minded ally, Yuriy Yekhanurov, as acting prime minister and ordered him to form a new government.
Yekhanurov, 57, is a moderate and neutral figure with extensive political experience. As chairman of the State Property Fund in 1994-97, he pioneered Ukraine's mass privatization program. He then briefly served as economy minister and head of the State Committee for Entrepreneurship before becoming first deputy prime minister in the newly appointed government of Viktor Yushchenko in December 1999. He was elected to parliament on the Yushchenko party's ticket in March 2002 and, after Yushchenko won the presidential elections last December, was appointed to serve as head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional administration.
I don't know what's more ominous, that Zinchenko is right or that ordinary Ukrainians broke out into unscripted applause for his statements.
Ukrainian politics is super difficult to understand from a more western point of view because there aren't any "angels", just varying degrees of corruption and inbreeding. Zinchenko used to be a close ally of Viktor Medvechuk, who was a Kuchma darling, but later aligned himself with the rising Yushchenko-Tymoshenko axis in the battle royale last winter.
Zinchenko's resignation was so serious that President Yushchenko had to cancel a visit to Poland planned for this week to handle the crisis. As far as I can tell, Yuschenko hasn't spoken publically about the situation but that won't last too long.
Zinchenko's resignation is the first among the "super team" that won the hearts and minds of the west to the Orange Revolution, with its Pora backbone, that wants to effect similar changes in Azerbaijan and Belarus. Oddly enough, the color orange was chosen because all the other primary colors except for purple were already taken.
It looks like Zinchenko's axe to grind is with Petro Poroshenko and Olexander Tretyakov. According to the FT this resignation is symptomatic of a fault line between Yushchenko and his media favorite PM Tymoshenko, who are building separate alliances with Poroshenko in Yushchenko's camp.
As odd as things are in Ukraine, the way the reports are coming in, it looks like Tymoshenko is portraying HER allies as the more "pure" ones and that Yuschenko's crew are the ones trying to get in on the lucrative privatization deals and control of key government ministries. Poroshenko is an ally of Boris Berezovsky, whom you may have remembered me writing about when Yushchenko hired him earlier this year.
So to sum it up - in countries like Ukraine, when they become "democratic", there is a strong urge to plunder state industries and sell them off to well-connected oligarchs. The other key industries get grabbed so that contracts can go to associates. Yushchenko hired Berezovsky to be his "investment" guy to lure in Russians to buy off some state companies. At first it looked like Yushchenko was going to sell the whole lock stock and barrel until western investors got jittery that the situation stank just a little too much of cronyism. So Yushchenko backed down. I might add here Tymoshenko has recently "un-sold" a state-owned company and got a tongue lashing from Yushchenko for doing it.
Poroshenko is quite good buddies with Berezovsky and before Tymoshenko was elected Prime Minister, it looked like perhaps Poroshenko might have won. And if Tymoshenko resigns or is forced to resign, he's most likely next in line. So Zinchenko has been pushing on Yushchenko to reign in his wheeler dealers' corruption and felt like resigning was the only way to get everyone's attention. I might add here that Poroshenko has a tight grip on the media in Ukraine and has sold a lot of it to his Russian capitalist buddies already.
Tymoshenko won her position because she was a crowd favorite and certainly the most telegenic of all these old Communist-era fogies. Meanwhile corruption remains endemic throughout the Ukraine and from what I can gather, little has changed since the Orange revolution except for a few cosmetic changes. Sigh...