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Archive for September 23rd, 2010

IMF predicts economic growth in Ukraine

Posted by the Editor on September 23, 2010

News / 23 September 2010 | 17:44

IMF predicts economic growth in Ukraine

IMF predicts economic growth in Ukraine

The head of the International Monetary Fund office in Ukraine, Max Alier, noted improvements in the global economy and predicted economic growth in Ukraine.

He stated this during the BG Capital first international investment conference in Kyiv on the prospects for post-crisis economic development and investment attractiveness of Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus.

He said the current period is more positive, adding that economic growth is expected in all the three countries.

According to Alier, first of all the world needs to draw lessons from the crisis, assess and understand what elements have become a catalyst for the crisis, as well as understand how to prevent and avoid further crises.

Ukraine, he stressed, must return the branch of state finances to a good condition. First and foremost, it is necessary to resume the profitability of banks, said the IMF mission chief for Ukraine, UKRINFORM reported.


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President: I felt pride of our land

Posted by the Editor on September 23, 2010

News / 23 September 2010 | 16:41

President: I felt pride of our land

President: I felt pride of our land

Answering journalists’ questions about his impression of today’s session of the UN General Assembly, President Viktor Yanukovych said: “First of all, we must join the Millennium Declaration. This is our duty. The criteria, which we are to achieve by participating in this program, must be accepted by the authorities and society”.

The President also stressed that “we should not be fighting each other”. “We have more important things to fight for: for a better life, for human rights, for environmental safety, against poverty and so on. And it is very good that global movement, promoting such work in different regions of the world, has appeared. Ukraine will actively participate in it,” Viktor Yanukovych said.

When asked about the attitude of the international community towards Ukrainian reforms in the context of the Millennium Declaration, President said: “We felt that the attitude towards Ukraine in the world has changed significantly. It becomes clearer, more concrete”. According to Viktor Yanukovych, our partners welcome the stability in our state, which makes it possible to achieve things that have been planned.

The President also noted that he takes part in the UN General Assembly session for the second time and his today’s experience differs from that of September 2002, when he was the Prime Minister of Ukraine and took part in the UN General Assembly session. Ukraine is perceived as a serious player around the world now, Viktor Yanukovych said, and the attitude to our country is serious too.

“I felt pride of our land,” said the President of Ukraine.

Viktor Yanukovych also added that during his meeting with the UN Secretary-General the parties touched upon the issue of the Chernobyl tragedy. According to him, Mr. Ban Ki-moon announced his intention to visit Ukraine on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and take part in the international conference dedicated to it.

The President stressed that 2011 will be the year of solving the problems of those, who suffered Chernobyl disaster consequences. “We will announce it so,” Viktor Yanukovych said.


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Ukraine will try not to exceed public debt of 40% of GDP

Posted by the Editor on September 23, 2010

News / 23 September 2010 | 14:42

Ukraine will try not to exceed public debt of 40% of GDP

Ukraine will try not to exceed public debt of 40% of GDP

Ukraine will try not to exceed the level of public debt of 40% of GDP, Vice Prime Minister for Economy Serhiy Tihipko told the BG Capital investment forum in Kyiv Thursday, UKRINFORM reported.

“A debt of 40% of GDP – we understand how critical it is,” he said and added, “We are not going to increase this debt.”

According to Tihipko, Ukraine plans to undertake a series of tough measures to prevent an increase in its national debt.

Speaking in an interview with the First National TV Channel recently, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said that the Government intends to cover short-term loans taken earlier with new long-term loans at lower interest rates.

Earlier, Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs President Anatoliy Kinakh admitted that by the end of the year the consolidated public debt of Ukraine may reach a critical point of 40% of GDP.

This forecast, he said, coincides with the calculations of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund experts.

As reported, the public and publicly guaranteed debt of Ukraine on July 31 totaled $45.87 billion, which is 6.5% more than at the end of June 2010.


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Ukrainian politics as a lunatic asylum with a hope of curing

Posted by the Editor on September 23, 2010

Analytics / 23 September 2010 | 14:15

Ukrainian politics as a lunatic asylum with a hope of curing

Ukrainian politics as a lunatic asylum with a hope of curing

Mykola Riabchuk is one of Ukraine’s leading intellectuals. In an interview with Ingo Petz he outlines his views on the failure of the Orange Revolution and the early stages of the Yanukovych presidency

Ingo Petz is a German freelance journalist

Ingo Petz:

Mr Riabchuk, how is Yanukovych doing as president?

He’s carrying on the old post-Soviet tradition of playing with, rather than by, the rules.  What distinguishes him from his predecessors, however, is that his ‘blue’ coalition is far more monolithic and unscrupulous than the ‘orange’ coalition was. The new team is trying to roll out the system they established long ago in the Donetsk region through the whole of Ukraine. They are striving to monopolise all power completely and eliminate any pluralism, be it political, economic or even religious, cultural and linguistic.  They will probably not succeed but tensions are likely to grow and violence, even bloodshed, may follow. I’d like to emphasize that the new team is much more unscrupulous (‘the end justifies the means’) and authoritarian (‘might makes right’) than even Kuchma’s team was.

Mykola Riabchuk:

That sounds very dramatic. So are democracy and Western values once more lost to Ukraine? Or will Ukrainians kick Yanukovych out when they’ve had enough of his post-post-Soviet politics?

They may not be completely lost, but they are under really serious threat. Ukrainian society was as disappointed by Yushchenko’s chaotic democracy as the Russians were by Yeltsin’s feckless pluralism. They express a similar longing for a ‘strong hand’, which means primarily they are really fed up with dysfunctional institutions and yearn for some law and order. But, as opinion surveys reveal, Ukrainians are much less ready than Russians to sacrifice, or restrict, their civic liberties for a promise of prosperity. This may result from a different historical legacy. I don’t mean only the western part of Ukraine that, until WWII, had never been part of Russia or Soviet Union. I mean also Central Ukraine, which was historically part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was only fully incorporated into the Russian Empire at the end of the 18th century.

But there might be also a structural reason for this attitude. In Russia, authoritarianism may have a broad popular appeal because it is associated with empire, with great-power ambitions, with traditional, deep-rooted anti-Westernism and chauvinism. In Ukraine, it might be attractive only for a small, Sovietophile/Russophile fragment of society. But even they understand that this would definitely be unacceptable for the other, Ukrainophile part of society. And nobody wants bloody conflicts here. So, Ukrainians are very cautious about any nationalism, as it could explode the divided country.

Actually, Yushchenko lost not because he was a nationalist, but because he was perceived and portrayed as one. And that was enough. So even if you were to get a strong pro-authoritarian majority in Ukraine, it would inevitably be radically split by a simple question: “What kind of a ‘strong hand’ should it be – Ukrainian or Russian, Ukrainophone or Russophone ‘aboriginal’ or ‘Creole’?” And, please note, there is also a strong group – maybe not a majority, but a strong pro-democratic minority –  that rejects any authoritarianism, Russian or Ukrainian. So, in the event of an authoritarian threat, this minority would find situational allies in the pro-authoritarian camp – from that part of the camp who reject not any, but this specific, ethno-cultural brand of authoritarianism.
And, of course, it’s not only Ukrainian society that is divided, but Ukrainian elites too. The real threat may come from the fact that Yanukovych and his group simply don’t understand the subtlety of the political issues in Ukraine and the complex role of its multiple identities. Yanukovych and his associates come mostly from the Donbas – the most Russified and Sovietized region, which had always been ruled by this group in a virtually totalitarian, mafia-like style. They may labour under the delusion that all Ukraine is more or less like the Donbas. And may feel strong temptation to roll out over the whole country the same methods that proved so effective.

So far, the Western governments have tacitly accepted the parliamentary coup d’etat – probably frustrated by the political instability, internecine wars between the president and the prime minister, and the permanent fruitless elections. They appear to give Yanukovych carte blanche for future reforms, which may be misread by his team as a licence for further violations of the law and curtailing civic freedoms. In sum, I don’t think democracy in Ukraine will be successfully eliminated, as it has been in Russia or Belarus.  But I’m afraid Yanukovych and his cronies may try it on – and the cost of resistance can be very high.

As a “fan” of the Orange Revolution you must be shattered that Yanukovych won the election.

Yes, of course, it’s a bitter pill. But not totally unexpected. Yanukovych didn’t really win: he received less than 50% of votes, and numerically 400,000 fewer than in 2004. But the Orange leaders definitely lost. They fully deserved the defeat and, in fact, did everything possible to facilitate his comeback.

How is he regarded by Ukrainian-speaking intellectuals? Any change in opinions towards him?

Actually, it’s not only Ukrainian-speaking intellectuals. All intellectuals regard him with scepticism. This can, for example, be seen from comments by Mikhail Beletskiy (in Russian).  He is a Russophone activist and ardent critic of Yushchenko’s policies of alleged ‘Ukrainization’, but he’s not very enthusiastic about the new government either. Yanukovych is a rough, uncultured, autocratic man, with a very narrow, provincial mindset and virtually no strategic vision for the country. His first steps realised our worst fears.

Firstly, he and his team completely disregard the law and defiantly ignore the constitution when politically expedient. Suffice it to say, they have indefinitely postponed the local elections due in May, even though the Constitution contains no provision for this. They created a parliamentary coalition and formed the government in an absolutely unconstitutional way, a kind of parliamentary coup d’etat. (The Constitutional Court declared this way of coalition-building unconstitutional in 2008. Now, the judges have decided the opposite, reportedly under heavy bribery and intimidation).
Secondly, Yanukovych and his team pursue a revengeful, confrontational policy line that intensifies divisions within the country. One of his ministers, Mr Tabachnyk, the minister of education, has made extremely Ukrainophobic statements.  He has never apologized for them, claiming that his political views have nothing to do with his professional activities in the ministry. Mr Mogilev, the interior minister, said that Stalin rightly deported all the Criman Tatars to Siberia because they were Nazi collaborators.  Yanukovych’s Russian/Russophone team is pretty xenophobic and very unlikely to bring interethnic accord and consent to the country.

And thirdly, most members of his new team have at various times had serious accusations of corruption brought against them.  There are well-substantiated reasons to believe that their skills and will for reforms fall far behind their appetite for looting the economy.

In the West a lot of people think the victory of Yanukovych marks the defeat of the Orange Revolution. Is their view correct?

Yes and no. The Orange Revolution was actually defeated in 2005, when the Orange leaders refused to reform the institutions and society fail
ed to force them to deliver on their promises. All that followed was just the death throes of the revolution, which eventually resulted in Yanukovych’s comeback. At the same time, the legacy of the revolution is much deeper and more durable. This can be seen in the emergence of civil society in Ukraine: it’s not mature enough to bring about fundamental changes in the system, but vibrant enough to resist authoritarian pressure and to protect basic civic rights and liberties in a peaceful, non-violent way. If we believe in the theory of path dependence, we may say that the revolution failed because in the past we had too little experience of constitutionalism and democracy, and too much lawlessness and autocracy. But, by the same token, we may argue that next time Ukrainians will succeed because now their past contains also some important, albeit short, experience of civic behaviour, of mutual trust and solidarity during the revolution.

It seems that the mentality of the homo sovieticus (authoritarian etc.) still dominates the political culture in the Ukraine. Is the end of that species in sight? Is there a younger generation of politicians who give you hope for the democratic development of Ukraine?

Homo sovieticus, I believe, is gradually disappearing. Actually, this has been proved by sociological studies: people are becoming more self-confident, less paternalistic and they have more initiative. But the problem of a low social capital still remains, as well as a problem of what George Schöpflin calls the ‘East European political culture’. In this regard, Ukraine (maybe with exception of the western, Catholic part) is not very different from the Balkan states that belong to the same civilizational milieu of Eastern Christianity. If you take a look at our political infighting from this perspective, you would not find much difference between Yushchenko-Tymoshenko, on one hand, and, say, Iliescu-Basescu or any other bad East European politicians, on the other. An ugly rivalry within the Orange camp was actually not very different from political rivalries in most other post-communist countries. The main difference, however, was that in all those countries there was no ‘third force’, represented in Ukraine by the profoundly anti-national, anti-European Party of the Regions and the Communists. This also means that in all those countries Russia could not play the spoiler role as effectively as it did in Ukraine.

I feel both the Ukrainian elites and society in general are pretty tired with all the lawlessness and institutional dysfunctionality. The popular vote for Tyhypko and Yatsenyuk, who came third and fourth in the first round of the last elections, largely reflects society’s need for (relatively) new faces and, even more importantly, for politicians who position themselves less ideologically – as ‘pragmatists’ and ‘technocrats’. (Actually, Yushchenko won the 2004 elections primarily because he had a popular image, which was eventually eroded by his astounding fecklessness). But the main problem is how to change the rules of game without an external arbiter – what academics call ‘third-party enforcement’. Popular consent is not enough. Just remember the final episode of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Three gangsters point their guns at each other’s heads and nobody will put his gun down because he may be the first to die.   In the Balkans, the EU and NATO played the role of external arbiter with an even bigger gun. And this helped to change the paradigm.

So the way out will not be easy. But I believe that if Ukrainians can prove good will, consent and a critical mass for change, the EU would help. We (I mean both Ukraine and the EU) lost this chance immediately after the Orange revolution, but I hope we won’t lose the next . We just need to work hard to create it again.

What about a cultural vision for a future Ukraine? Being part of the EU? The West? Or finding its own way, a channel of communication between West and East?

I don’t believe in any ‘third way’, ‘channels’, ‘bridging’, ‘neutrality’. Or any other hollow rhetoric that is at best naïve, at worst hypocritical, and suits the geopolitical manipulations of the Kremlin. Russians may deceive themselves with ‘thirdwayism’ – as long as they have oil and gas – but Ukraine can’t afford it. Either we make a tremendous effort to join the First World, the ‘golden billion’, the core of the world economy (in Wallerstein’s terms), or we remain on its periphery (or, like China or Russia, the semi-periphery). For Ukraine, the third way leads directly into the Third World. I’d like our politicians to state this clearly rather than flirt with unviable ideas. True, Ukrainians are divided in their orientations between the West and Russia (or, more precisely, the mythical East Slavonic/Orthodox Christian ‘umma’). But this choice is not just about politics or geopolitics or even identity. It’s about values, about both level and way of life, about a secure and decent future. This should be clearly stated. Ukrainian divisions don’t mean we should avoid clear choices. It only means that we have to have better explanations, to work more persistently and, perhaps, to move more smoothly and carefully.

In Belarus for example a lot of people say: Thank God we don’t live in a chaotic, corrupt Mafia-style country like Ukraine. What would you reply?

If Belarusians, or Russians, are happy with their idea of happiness, then I’m not going to try and persuade them they’re wrong. Personally, I don’t think their countries are less corrupt.  Informal censorship merely means they have less information about corruption. And the control of corruption exercised by their authoritarian rulers is more centralized and hierarchical. So, if you want me to reply, I would say: well, you have a single mafia headed by your president as the godfather. While we, so far (unless Yanukovych introduces the Belarusian system in Ukraine), have many competing mafias, which creates a kind of pluralism in the country. This is not democracy yet but it could evolve from this pluralism – as it has in Western Europe since the Middle Ages. Ukraine might be more chaotic, but it has some chance for a breakthrough. They don’t. Actually, I like Boris Nemtsov’s comparison of Ukrainian politics to a lunatic asylum, and Russian politics to a cemetery. “In the lunatic asylum, theoretically, you can be cured. In the cemetery, you can’t”.


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President Yanukovych presented Millennium Development Goals report

Posted by the Editor on September 23, 2010

News / 23 September 2010 | 12:54

President Yanukovych presented Millennium Development Goals report

President Yanukovych presented Millennium Development Goals report

In New York, President Viktor Yanukovych took part in the High-level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly, dedicated to achieving of the Millennium Development Goals.

In his speech, President Yanukovych stressed that the adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration had been a sign of countries’ around the world recognition that development tasks and humanity’s problems are common and global-scale.

“Solidarity of the countries, their mutual support and responsibility are the key to well-being of each separate country and the world as a whole.

We can state today: the Millennium Development Goals have become a real agenda of global development of humanity and general imperative for all the governments.

Yanukovych reaffirmed the devotion of the new political leadership of Ukraine to achieving of the Millennium Development Goals and their commitment to the broadest possible international cooperation under the UN auspices.

According to Ukraine’s president, the program of reforms initiated by him and the program of the new Government of Ukraine due to their social orientation are closely related to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Ukraine’s aim is comprehensive modernization of the economy and active social policy, Yanukovych stressed.

“We have started systematic structural reforms aimed at creating powerful and modern technological economy and ensuring high standards of living to the population and protecting its most vulnerable groups.

The Millennium Development Goals are the beacon and the system of priorities for implementing the strategy of reforms in Ukraine at the same time, because they reflect the most acute problems faced today by our society.

Having undertaken the commitments stated by the Millennium Development Goals, Ukraine made their achievement a major guideline in its national economy,” Yanukovych said in his speech.

Acording to him, providing wellbeing of the population, overcoming poverty, achieving high standards of healthcare, combating HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis, ensuring access to and quality of education, environmental security, and gender equality have become the priorities of this policy.

For the last 10 years, Ukraine has introduced a number of sectoral and intersectoral programs, aimed at achieving of the Millennium Development Goals.

“We have submitted to the UN Secretariat the report on implementation of the Millennium Development Goals indicators set for Ukraine. As one can see from this document, Ukraine has made substantial progress,” the president said.

Among the achievements Viktor Yanukovych pointed out the increasing of the level of minimum social standards, and the reduction of the number of people living below the poverty line. “Ukraine has strong global ratings, and reforms in this area are currently going on,” he added.

Yanukovych also mentioned that the situation in healthcare had improved substantially. “The most notable achievements are reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health. Among the pressing tasks are improving gender equality and environmental health. The situation with HIV/AIDS is of the most concern. We must put extra efforts into solving this problem,” he said.

The president explained that as in most countries, our work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals was affected significantly by the global economic crisis, which has damaged almost all the sectors of economy, thousands of companies and incomes of millions of citizens.

“As the sources of rapid growth of the pre-crisis times are exhausted, Ukraine’s only way to get back on a stable development trajectory is to conduct decisive and comprehensive reforms aimed at improving economic competitiveness, and combined with reasonable social policy,” he said.

On behalf of the authorities of Ukraine the president thanked the international community, organizations and governments that provide support to development processes in the country and are open to further cooperation.

“At the same time, we are ready to continue being a reliable partner of the international community in resolving global problems and realizing the Millennium Development Goals. We treat the threat of global food crisis responsibly. Last year, Ukraine became a donor to the UN World Food Programme for the first time.

I am certain that in a while, thanks to the strong potential of its agriculture, our country can be an important element of global efforts in fighting starvation in several regions of the world.

I believe that the Millennium Development Goals are real and achievable.

They require hard work inside each country and close cooperation of all countries in the world. Ukraine is ready for such work and such cooperation,” said President Yanukovych.


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New shelter construction starts at Chornobyl NPP

Posted by the Editor on September 23, 2010

News / 23 September 2010 | 11:02

New shelter construction starts at Chornobyl NPP

New shelter construction starts at Chornobyl NPP

Laying of the foundation for a new sarcophagus over the destroyed fourth reactor of  Chornobyl NPP has begun. The builders need to drive the first 12 piles.

Since 1992, active work has been proceeding on transformation of the Shelter facility, built in 1986, into an environmentally safe system. According to the conceptual design, the construction, which is called a New Safe Confinement, will be built in the form of an arch with a height of 108 meters and a length of 150 meters over the existing sarcophagus.

The technology building will include units for decontamination, fragmentation, packaging, sanitation, workshops and other technological facilities.

The sarcophagus will be equipped with modern systems of radiation safety control. To ensure dismantling of unstable structures, crane equipment will be assembled. The new facility is designed for 100 years of operation.

The station is finishing unloading fuel from the third unit, which began on January 22. This is a prerequisite for implementation of projects related to construction of a New Safe Confinement.


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