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Archive for December, 2010

Experts name President Yanukovych the politician of the year

Posted by the Editor on December 29, 2010

News / 29 December 2010 | 11:01

Experts name President Yanukovych the politician of the year

Experts name President Yanukovych the politician of the year

Experts have called President Viktor Yanukovych the most popular politician of 2010, according to an expert poll conducted by Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF), UKRINFORM reported.

DIF director Iryna Bekeshkina told reporters that second and third positions, as poll found, are taken by chief of the Presidential Administration Serhiy Liovochkin and leader of the Svoboda party (Freedom) Oleh Tiahnybok. “This is a very interesting trend,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, according to Bekeshkina, least successful politician this year, as experts believe, is the leader of the Batkivshchyna party (Fatherland) Yulia Tymoshenko, former President Viktor Yushchenko, Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tihipko.

According to the survey, successful shifts in the country and the positive steps in the international arena are getting the action plan for establishing a visa-free regime of travels with EU countries for Ukraine, preserving the right to host UEFA EURO 2012, as well as public protests of entrepreneurs as a manifestation of social consciousness.

At the same time, the DIF director noted that a series of steps made by Ukraine this year were evaluated negatively by the experts. Among these are: the concentration of power in the hands of one political force, the shortcomings in the conduct of local elections and the use of force in parliament.

The Results 2010 survey was held from 15 to 23 December with 45 Ukrainian experts interviewed.


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More Join List Of Former Ukrainian Officials In Trouble With Law

Posted by the Editor on December 28, 2010

Analytics / 28 December 2010 | 16:49

More Join List Of Former Ukrainian Officials In Trouble With Law

More Join List Of Former Ukrainian Officials In Trouble With Law

by Maryana Drach

Yuriy Lutsenko went out on December 26 to walk his dog near his apartment in Kyiv.

Instead, the former Ukrainian interior minister found himself bundled into a car by Ukrainian Security Service officers and taken to jail. He faces charges of abuse of office and embezzling state funds and was today ordered held for two months.

In comments posted on his party website on December 26, Lutsenko called his detention further proof of “the policy of scaring Ukrainian society and political terror against opposition.”

Lutsenko is the latest in a growing list of high-level members of the previous government of Prime Minister-turned-opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to find themselves in trouble with the law.

The current administration of President Viktor Yanukovych, which is to mark its first year in power in February, says every public servant should be accountable for his or her actions. But opposition and human rights activists say the law is being used randomly to punish or scare opponents of the government.

The highest-profile target of the probes is Tymoshenko herself, charged last week with abuse of office.

The list also includes former Environment Minister Heorhiy Filipchuk, who’s under arrest on charges related to the use of money from the carbon-emission fund, and former Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn, under arrest and accused of squandering public funds.

Former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko passes his wife Irina as he arrives for a court session in Kyiv on December 27. Last week they were joined by a former deputy justice minister, Yevhen Korniychuk, who was detained on charges of abuse of office.

‘All Are Equal Before The Law’

Yanukovych, in an interview with three Ukrainian television channels aired on December 24, characterized the probes as objective and said Tymoshenko had “every possibility to defend herself.”

“I cannot stop these processes and say: ‘You should investigate these cases and not these,'” the president added. “No way one should do it. And the head of state does not have such powers.”

As an example of judicial objectivity, prosecutors point to a criminal case against the deputy head of the customs office, Viktor Bondar, who was detained on December 24.

However, he has strong links to the old government as well. Bondar is a former transport minister and a former governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, who ahead of this year’s presidential election supported Tymoshenko.

Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka told a press briefing in Kyiv on December 24 that in the past year prosecutors have launched cases against 18 current and former high-level officials accused of causing damages to state coffers of 17 billion hryvnyas (around $2.1 billion) and 380 million euros ($500 million).

Pshonka said each public servant was equal before the law and, addressing the current government, said: “If you are going to treat budget funds as easily as your predecessors — you will be questioned by the same investigators in the same offices and will sit in the same detention centers as officials of the ex-government…. Do not touch the money of the state!”

Opposition Cries Foul

But critics say the investigations are politically motivated, and add that the timing of the crackdown has been chosen for maximum impact.

Last week Tymoshenko was questioned three times, arriving at the prosecutor’s office on occasion directly from the hospital where her husband had just undergone heart surgery.

President Viktor Yanukovych says he has no role in the charges. Korniychuk, the former deputy justice minister, was detained in Kyiv on the day his daughter was born. And former Interior Minister Lutsenko learned about the charges against him on December 13, one day before his birthday.

According to the influential Kyiv weekly “Dzerkalo tyzhnya,” this is not a coincidence, but a sign that the current authorities want to make it as painful as possible for their opponents.

Tymoshenko says she believes that the current authorities are trying to prevent her from running for office again. Coming out of the prosecutor’s office in Kyiv on December 24, she called the criminal investigations against her and her supporters “the revenge of the mafia.”

“They are tasked with terrorizing our team and our family, me personally every day,” Tymoshenko said. “I think that they understand that they have limited time. According to our information, they want to put all opposition into prison before the parliamentary elections.”

Political experts in Ukraine doubt Tymoshenko — who has been ordered not to leave Kyiv — will be arrested herself, since this could boost her popularity ahead of parliamentary elections due in 2012.

But even a possible suspended sentence could affect the opposition leader’s political career, since it would prevent her from running for office.

“If she gets, for instance, a five-year suspended sentence, then after this term she becomes a citizen with full rights,” says Oleksandr Chernenko, chairman of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine. “Before the end of the term, if the court does not change the verdict, a person has limited rights, irrespective of whether one is imprisoned or not.”

Distracting Attention?

Ukrainian analysts tell RFE/RL that the government is trying to boost its anticorruption credentials and divert attention away from unpopular initiatives, such as raising gas tariffs and an upcoming rise in the retirement age.

Ukraine ranks 134th out 178 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index this year, alongside Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Human rights activists say they also doubt that current authorities are sincerely aiming to stop graft.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights and Kharkiv Human Rights Group issued a joint statement calling on the government to end “selective” criminal prosecutions. They say that due to recent legislative changes, judges have become more dependent on politicians.

In a statement, prominent Ukrainian human rights activists Volodymyr Yavorsky and Yevhen Zakharov said: “The prosecutor-general stated immediately after his appointment that he would implement any order of the president. A member of the [ruling] Party of the Regions has been appointed head of the High Court on Civil and Criminal Cases, while his deputy is the prosecutor-general’s brother.

“All of this gives rise to well-founded doubts that the court proceedings in these political cases will be run in keeping with the standards of the right to a fair trial.”

Other critics in Ukraine suggest that the recent campaign against former officials is diverting attention away from recent cases where allies of the president have been installed in prominent positions.


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Trade unions want control over pension reform discussion

Posted by the Editor on December 28, 2010

News / 28 December 2010 | 16:20

Trade unions want control over pension reform discussion

Trade unions want control over pension reform discussion

The National Forum of Trade Unions of Ukraine (NFPU) has called on the government to involve trade unions in the national discussion of changes in the pension system, NFTU said in a statement Tuesday, UKRINFORM reported.

“The answer that we will come from the Cabinet of Ministers will show how sincere are the statements of the authorities to begin public discussion of pension reform. We hope that when introducing the pension reform we should not repeat a principle that took place when making the tax code, when the government tried to “railroad” a law, which is beneficial only to them, but is not beneficial to society and a particular employee and retiree,” NFPU chairman Myroslav Yakibchuk noted.

As UKRINFORM reported, the government introduced a bill to increase the normative duration of a pensionable service for the assignment of old-age pension at the a minimum amount from 20 years for women and 25 years for men up to 30 and 35 years respectively. In addition, the government proposes to gradually raise the retirement age for women from 55 to 60 years, annually increasing it to 6 months, from February 1, 2011, and for men working in the public service – up to 62 years from 2013.

On December 21 the Ministry of Social Policy submitted for public discussion a bill on measures to ensure the reformation of the pension system.

In February 2011, the parliament will hold public hearings on the pension reform.


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Azarov: Ukraine’s economy will reach the pre-crisis level in 2012

Posted by the Editor on December 28, 2010

News / 28 December 2010 | 14:31

Azarov: Ukraine’s economy will reach the pre-crisis level in 2012

The Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov predicts the output of economy of Ukraine on pre-crisis level in 2012. The Head of the Government said that at the end-of-year press conference, Cabinet’s press office reported.

He said the crisis could not be eliminated in one year. “We lost 15% of indicators. This year we will catch up about five percent. We will have to catch up ten more… if it develops in the optimistic scenario, than in 2011 growth will be 6%. That means in 2012 finally we would come up on the indexes of pre-crisis year,” Mykola Azarov said. The Prime Minister recalled that in next year’s budget previews GDP growth of 4.5% forecast.

The Head of the Government stressed that the lost for Ukrainian economy growth rates is the result of unprofessional and populist activities of the previous government.

Besides that, Mykola Azarov noted that 2011 would be very difficult for Ukraine: “The year will be difficult. We are to pay only debts of almost 90 billion UAH. This is a gigantic amount. However, according to Mykola Azarov, 2011 will be the last year, when “our government bears such a huge debt burden.” “Already in 2012 it will be much easier. First, because we are reducing the budget deficit from 5% to 3%. We are reducing the pension fund deficit. By the way it is quite expensive. That means we do everything to live according the possibilities and not to tell people tales,” the Prime Minister said and added: “2011 is the year of stabilization and getting out of the crisis, in 2012 and subsequent years no doubt will be better.”

According to him, if there is optimistic scenario, the Government will undertake increasing of incorporated in the state budget-2011 social standards.


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Tymoshenko: The authorities are stealing Olympic Stadium money before our very eyes

Posted by the Editor on December 28, 2010

News / 28 December 2010 | 12:50

Tymoshenko: The authorities are stealing Olympic Stadium money before our very eyes

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko plans to appeal to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (PGO) demanding that an investigation into the misuse of public funds in connection with the unjustified increase in financing for the construction of the Olympic National Stadium Complex in Kyiv.

“I will bring to the next interrogation an appeal regarding yet another crime that is currently being committed in Ukraine, namely the doubling of the cost estimate for building the Olympic National Stadium Complex in Kyiv in preparation for Euro-2012,” Yulia Tymoshenko told reporters after her latest interrogation at the PGO, Tymoshenko’s official website reports.

The former prime minister recalled that estimates for the cost of constructing the facility were considerably less while she was in office. “Our government was building the Olympic Stadium for 2.144 billion hryvnias. This government has upped the cost to 4.5 billion hryvnias. I’d like to ask what they’re doing with these extra 2 billion hryvnias because everyone knows they don’t need this much.”

Yulia Tymoshenko didn’t rule out that public funds are being laundered to private offshore accounts belonging to Yanukovych and his associates. “These are expenses that are being laundered through Cyprus into the private offshore accounts of senior officials. And this is all being done right before our eyes,” she stressed.


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Lutsenko becomes 7th person from Tymoshenko government who was put in jail

Posted by the Editor on December 28, 2010

News / 28 December 2010 | 11:01

Lutsenko becomes 7th person from Tymoshenko government who was put in jail

Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who was detained on December 26 and taken into custody for two months, could face up to 12 years in prison under charges brought against him by the Prosecutor General’s Office, UKRINFORM reported, referring to Radio Liberty.

Three criminal cases were opened against Lutsenko. The former minister has been charged with the illegal employment of his personal driver Leonid Prystupliuk at the Interior Ministry, the provision of an apartment and the assignment of a pension to him, as well as the abuse of office that caused financial damage to the state.

In a court hearing on December 27, Lutsenko said the charges were politically motivated and that he didn’t understand them.

“I don’t understand what’s going on here. Is the court hearing the case which was a premise to arrest me yesterday, or is it a discussion of the case which I was accused of a month ago?” he asked. “I received some documents [from prosecutors] a month ago. Now I cannot understand the logic of the process at all.”

Lutsenko’s lawyer Ihor Fomin said that as for the third case, he was not aware of the wording of this case opened against the former minister.

The lawyer does not exclude that the case concerns an investigation into the poisoning of former presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.

Radio Liberty reported that Lutsenko had become the seventh representative of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s government who would see in the New Year in jail.

Nearly twenty criminal cases have already been opened against the members of the previous Cabinet of Ministers.


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Azarov: Ukraine will find arguments in gas talks with Russia

Posted by the Editor on December 27, 2010

News / 27 December 2010 | 16:19

Azarov: Ukraine will find arguments in gas talks with Russia

Azarov: Ukraine will find arguments in gas talks with Russia

“We will find the arguments in the negotiations with Russia on reducing the price of gas for Ukraine,” Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said during the final press conference for central and regional media in Kyiv on Monday, UKRINFORM reports.

“Russia must realize that, despite the fact that it managed some time in certain circumstances to obtain a lucrative contract, this does not mean that they now can hold on it until it expires. It’s a wrongful behavior. It’s not quite right in the light of our long-term relationships and our strategic partnership. We have to think about the future. I am confident that the Russian leadership is an experienced leadership. And sooner or later we will agree,” Azarov stressed.

At the same time, he noted that together with the issues of reducing the price of Russian gas the sides also consider prospects of a joint venture involving Naftogaz and Gazprom. But he did not specify whether an evaluation of the assets of the companies has already started.

Earlier, the prime minister has repeatedly stated that Ukraine insisted on the revision of gas contracts with Russia and intends to convince the Russian side of the need to do it. First of all, Azarov said, it is necessary to revise the pricing formula for the gas bought by Ukraine from Russia.

On November 26, presidents of Ukraine and Russia, Viktor Yanukovych and Dmitry Medvedev, after a meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian Interstate Commission in Moscow, said they would continue to seek ways to solve the gas issue in such a manner that the interests of both countries are respected.

As UKRINFORM earlier reported, supplements to the contract for natural gas supplies between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz dated January 19, 2009 were signed in Kharkiv on April 21, 2010 during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Ukraine.

According to the supplements, Naftogaz makes payments for natural gas with a discount on the value of a reduction in the export duty during gas supplies to Ukraine, which is set by the Russian government.

The reduction totaled USD 100 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, but no more than 30% of the gas price, and applies to 30 billion cubic meters of gas to be supplied in 2010 and 40 billion cubic meters in subsequent years.

The gas price formula and the “take or pay” principle remained unchanged. The sides cancelled the provisions of the contract related to penalties for Ukraine’s consuming less gas than contracted.

The annual contracted volume of gas in 2010 was increased to 36.5 billion cubic meters.


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Tymoshenko: There is no force that can break the opposition

Posted by the Editor on December 27, 2010

News / 27 December 2010 | 14:28

Tymoshenko: There is no force that can break the opposition

Tymoshenko: There is no force that can break the opposition

The Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko and the Batkivshchyna party have declared their solidarity with Yuriy Lutsenko and are demanding that President Yanukovych release the opposition politician without delay.

According to Tymoshenko, there is no doubt whatsoever that the arrest of the former internal affairs minister is politically motivated. Last Friday, Yanukovych virtually admitted on three national television channels that the so-called law enforcement agencies coordinate their actions with him and that he is orchestrating the persecution of the opposition.

In opposition’s opinion, the government, which treats the people as nothing more than construction waste from the process of building “a new Ukraine” for Yanukovych and his family, wants to remove everyone who gets in the way of their sham reforms. Talk of ‘reform’ is aimed at covering up the many billions being stolen from the state by a clan that sees Ukraine as a country they defeated in war and now owes them reparations.

“According to Yanukovych, Lutsenko’s “guilt” is reinforced by the fact that in the struggle for Ukraine, the former minister stood side-by-side with Yulia Tymoshenko – the person Yanukovych views as the main obstacle in his experiment with Ukraine.

In the ten months since he came to power, Yanukovych has enriched himself and his criminal and oligarchic associates. He’s gone so far as to essentially privatize the National Bank. But despite his absolute power, Yanukovych has demonstrated his complete inability to run the country in the interest of the ordinary people and unwillingness to address their problems,” the official website of Yulia Tymoshenko cited the opinion of the opposition and its leader.

Batkivshchtna party claims Yanukovych won’t succeed in scaring the opposition. “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. There is no force that can break the opposition. We recognize our duty to defend Ukraine and its people.”


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