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Amb Tefft on U.S.-Ukraine Relations, Twenty News Articles

An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion, Economics,
Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World       

Business Will Move Ukraine Forward in 2010
Mr. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer Emerging
Markets Private Equity Investment Group,

Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
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Op-Ed by John F. Tefft, United States Ambassador to Ukraine
Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror Weekly #48 (776), in Ukrainian & Russian
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, December 12-18, 2009  
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #945, in English, Wash, D.C., Wed, Jan 6, 2010


U.S. Department of State, Treaty Room, Wash, DC, Wed, Dec 9, 2009

Clinton confirms security guarantees for Ukraine
By Mykola Siruk, The Day Weekly Digest in English #37
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 15 December 2009 

Interview with Oleksandr Chaly, Former First Deputy Foreign Minster
Interviewed by Alina Popkova and Mykola Siruk, 
The Day Weekly Digest in English, #36, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Idealizing the Budapest Memorandum cannot and must not be a “step” in the shaping of Ukraine’s foreign policy
By Volodymyr Vasylenko, Professor, Doctor of Law, International law expert,
Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Benelux
The Day Weekly Digest in English #37, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tues, 15 Dec 2009 

Commentary: By Oleh Rybachuk and Taras Chornovil
Financial Times, London, UK, Monday, November 23 2009 

Those longing for strong-armed rule may outnumber those
who want to preserve their imperfect democracy.
Commentary by Myroslava Gongadze, Journalist, Civil Rights Activist
The Wall Street Journal Europe, Monday, November 23, 2009

European Union's top official plainly stated what's wrong with Ukraine
Mark Rachkevych, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 4, 2009

The EU's loss of patience with a turbulent Kiev suggests another
victory for Russia in the struggle for the former Soviet republics
Simon Tisdall, Guardian, London, UK, Wed 25 Nov 2009 

By Tomas Valasek, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence, CER.
CER Bulletin, Issue 69, Center for European Reform, Dec 2009/Jan 2010

Analysis & Commentary: By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Kyiv-Patriarchate
U.S. Spokesperson for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii of Kyiv and All Ukraine
Schenectady, New York, Monday, January 4, 2010

Editorial, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, Dec 25, 2009

Presidential frontrunner says Ukraine paid too high a price on democratic reform
By Simon Shuster and Dima Vlasov, Associated Press Writers
Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Tue, December 29, 2009 

Analysis & Commentary: By John Marone, 
Columnist of Eurasian Home website, Kyiv, Ukraine
Eurasian Home, Moscow, Russia, Friday, December 18, 2009

Analysis & Commentary: Dmitry Vydrin, Professor of Political Science, Kyiv
Eurasian Home Website, Moscow, Russia, Fri, December 25, 2009

By Arthur Max, Associated Press (AP), Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine, Mon, Dec 14, 2009

Transmission by Natalia Churikova
'Transmission' is written by RFE/RL Editors and Correspondents
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Prague, Czech Republic, Tue, Dec 1, 2009

Kiev Journal, by Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times, NY, NY, 23 Dec 2009

Reuters, Funchal Portugal, Fri, December 11, 2009

Help an elderly Ukrainian in Kyiv have clothing, food, medicine this year.
Katie Fox, President, American Friends of "For Survival", Wash, D.C., Mon, Jan 4, 2010

Op-Ed by John F. Tefft, United States Ambassador to Ukraine
Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror Weekly #48 (776), in Ukrainian & Russian
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, December 12-18, 2009  
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #945, in English, Wash, D.C., Wed, Jan 6, 2010
It is a great honor for me to take up my new duties as the United States Ambassador to Ukraine.  This is an important time for Ukraine and for our bilateral relationship.  A strong relationship with a sovereign and independent Ukraine has been a major priority for the United States since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It remains so today. 

Secretary Hilary Clinton restated our commitment after her December 9 meeting with Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko at the State Department when she said: “A strong and independent Ukraine is good for the region and good for the world.”  We see the success of Ukraine in the post-Cold War world as a key to building a Europe whole, free and at peace.

During his visit to Washington,  Foreign Minister Poroshenko launched with Secretary Clinton  the new US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission.  This Commission, created during the visit of Vice President Biden last July, focused on a wide range of issues from foreign policy to energy, non-proliferation, democracy, rule of law and people-to-people exchanges.  We will continue to work through this Commission to build our strategic partnership. 

It is a prime, concrete example of what we mean when we say that, as we seek to reset our relationship with Russia, we remain steadfastly committed to Ukrainian independence and improving our broad partnership. The road Ukraine has followed since 1991 has not been smooth.  I know that all Ukrainians would agree that much still remains to be done. 

As you know, President Obama and his team are determined to improve U.S. relations with Russia, but not to the detriment of our relations with Ukraine.  Vice President Biden said during his visit here in July, “As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine.”

I arrive in Ukraine as President Obama’s envoy with 38 years of experience in the U.S. State Department.   I have had the honor of serving as U.S. Ambassador in Georgia and Ambassador to Lithuania before that, as well as spending almost a year as acting Chief of Mission in Moscow. 

I am not new to Ukrainian issues.  During a posting to Washington, I vividly remember working late nights in 1992, preparing for the first-ever visit by the Foreign Minister of an independent Ukraine. 

I later served as the chief U.S. diplomat in Washington directly responsible for policy issues related to Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Belarus.  I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity now to work on bilateral U.S.-Ukrainian relations once again, this time as President Obama’s envoy to this great county. 

Ukraine over the past century has withstood war, division, revolution and tragedy.  Indeed, just recently the people of this country memorialized the millions of its citizens – men, women and children – who died during the Holodomor. 

But, as President Obama noted recently, “The Ukrainian people overcame the horror of the great famine and have gone on to build a free and democratic country.”   I too was deeply moved when I visited the Holodomor Memorial on Monday, immediately after my initial meeting with President Yushchenko.

In the sphere of international relations, Ukrainian peacekeepers have served with distinction in recent years in a number of dangerous assignments, including the Former Republic of Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone.  As you might be aware, President Obama has just outlined a strategy for our efforts in Afghanistan. 

We welcome Ukraine’s recent decision to increase the number of Ukrainian personnel serving in western Afghanistan from 10 to 30.  We also honor the memories of the six Ukrainian service members who perished in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in July of this year, as well as the 18 who gave their lives while serving in Iraq from 2003 to 2005.

I would add that, as I mentioned during my confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate, sovereign Ukraine took a courageous step in ridding itself of the nuclear weapons it inherited after the fall of the Soviet system.  In light of the international threat posed by the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, and mindful of the upcoming review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Ukraine shines as an example for others to follow.

On the home front, Ukraine can count many blessings, including its rich agricultural tradition, an abundance of natural resources, and a well-educated population.  With our friends in the EU, we are eager to help Ukraine develop to its maximum economic potentials. 

Modernization and change are needed in the gas and oil sector to provide Ukraine with real energy security and reliable access to sources of fuel.  Much work remains to be done to improve living standards and achieve sustained growth as the health of the global economy improves. 

The U.S. Government has provided over $90 million in our various assistance programs this year, focusing on improving health, promoting economic growth, bolstering peace and stability, and promoting good governance and the rule of law. 

We are joining forces with our Ukrainian allies and other nations and international organizations to combat common scourges including HIV/AIDS and human trafficking, as well as to raise awareness of climate change and other environmental issues. 

Our team in the U.S. Embassy is committed to working with and helping Ukraine, even as we all try to weather the current economic troubles.  That will obviously require tough budget decisions by Ukraine’s leaders, a firm commitment to economic reform, and a willingness to combat corruption at all levels and in all spheres of life.  As Vice President Biden noted during his visit, Ukraine’s leaders must work together to bring about needed political and economic reforms.  

The United States will closely monitor the upcoming Presidential election in Ukraine.  As Secretary Clinton said on December 9th, “It is for the Ukrainian people to decide who their elected leaders should be. We will work with whomever the Ukrainian people elect in a fair and free election.”  More broadly, the United States will continue to support the further development of effective governance, the free exchange of information and a vibrant civil society.

This is an extraordinarily difficult time in Ukraine’s history.  This country finds itself at an important crossroads.  Great challenges remain for your society and your government.  But you should know that America stands ready to assist you, as a partner and friend.


FOOTNOTE: The Op-Ed by U.S. Ambassador John F. Tefft was originally published by Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror Weekly #48 (776), in Ukrainian and Russian. The English version was obtained by the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), Washington, D.C.,, directly from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. 
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

U.S. Department of State, Treaty Room, Wash, DC, Wed, Dec 9, 2009
- SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m delighted to welcome Minister Poroshenko here for in-depth conversations. It’s an opportunity for me to reaffirm the very broad partnership between our two nations. Earlier today, we had the first meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission, and we look forward to continuing to work on these many important matters.

Before I turn to the issues that the minister and I discussed and the shared objectives the United States and Ukraine are working toward, I’d like to say a few words about Honduras. President-elect Lobo has been meeting this week with President Arias of Costa Rica, President Martinelli of Panama, and has been in touch with other leaders throughout the hemisphere to advance regional cooperation with respect to Honduras.

Ever since the June 28 coup, the United States has remained dedicated both to our democratic principles and our determination to help Honduras find a pragmatic path to restore democratic and constitutional order. We condemned President Zelaya’s expulsion from Honduras as inconsistent with democratic principles and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and we have taken significant steps to signal our determination.

At the same time, working with OAS, President Arias and diverse sectors in Honduras, we’ve spared no effort to help Hondurans find a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the crisis, a resolution that restores democratic and constitutional order. We supported the San Jose process. We welcomed the negotiations among Hondurans themselves that led to the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. And we are encouraged by the work of regional leaders in support of this process. Yesterday, I spoke with President Arias and I will continue to reach out to other leaders as well.

A year-long electoral process culminated on November 29 when the Honduran people expressed their democratic will peacefully and in large numbers. And we salute the Honduran people for this achievement and we congratulate President-elect Lobo for his victory. These November 29 elections marked an important milestone in the process moving forward, but not its end.

President-elect Lobo has launched a national dialogue and he has called for the formation of a national unity government and a truth commission as set forth in the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. We stand with the Honduran people and we will continue to work closely with others in the region who seek to determine the democratic way forward for Honduras.

But let me now turn to the subject of the day, Ukraine. As I said, the minister and I reaffirmed our broad partnership. The United States is committed to supporting Ukraine as it continues on the path to democracy and prosperity. We applaud the growth of a free press and a vibrant political culture in Ukraine.

We support Ukraine’s further integration with NATO and the European Union. And we look forward to the free and fair presidential elections in January, and to working with the leaders chosen by the Ukrainian people as they take the steps necessary for economic recovery and reform.

A strong and independent Ukraine is good for the region and good for the world. Our meeting today built on the inaugural session of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission, a body that was created during Vice President Biden’s visit in July. Our hope is that this commission will help improve cooperation on security, on the economy, on trade, on energy, and on the rule of law.

By working together as partners, I am confident that we can meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century. With the end of the START treaty last week, it is worth recalling the landmark decision that Ukraine made 15 years ago to give up its nuclear weapons and join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

These decisions advanced the global cause of nonproliferation and led the United States to join Russia and the United Kingdom in extending security assurances in 1994, assurances that we have reaffirmed last week and again today that remain in force.

I’m also pleased to note that the United States and Ukraine recently agreed to restart cooperation on dismantling scud missiles. Ukraine today makes important contributions to global peace and security, including contributions to international peacekeeping missions from Kosovo to Liberia to Sudan.

And the United States appreciates Ukraine’s contributions to the important mission in Afghanistan. And I wish to commend the foreign minister for the work that he is doing to work with Moldova to demarcate the border.

So let me thank the foreign minister for his visit and for the friendship between our two countries. I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.

FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank Secretary Clinton for her warm hospitality, and we had a very productive negotiation. I greatly appreciate your message that U.S. will stand Ukraine and its continue on the path of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.

It’s very important for me to establish the – that we have established direct dialogue. We have a long list of problem we should deal together. And we really want to thank you for the firm support which was declared on our today meeting.

In the meantime, while appreciating that United States has recently reconfirmed the security assurance provided to Ukraine, and it should be – it is already reconfirmed on our meeting. It is crucially important for Ukraine – and we discussed this question on our today meeting – the return of IMF mission and the – to reestablish the work of mission of IMF to Ukraine if it would be possible this year in Ukraine to undertake the certain steps to demonstrate the openness and the effectiveness in cooperation with IMF.

The crucially importance for us is today integration meeting of our Commission for Strategic Partnership, and I think this is absolutely new and very important for us forum for our cooperation and dialogue in the different sphere you mentioned today.

And it is a great honor and I want to reconfirm the invitation to the Secretary Clinton to visit Ukraine on early possible time taking into account the busy schedule, and we think that our current level of cooperation is very high, very acceptable. And I want to thank you very much for – Madame Secretary, to you for that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

MR. KELLY: The first question to Kirit Radia from ABC.

QUESTION: Hi, Madame Secretary. Just a – there’s news today about five individuals arrested in Pakistan. I’m curious whether you can – we know some of them are American – if you can tell us what you know about the case, what you’ve heard from the Pakistanis, and whether this is the result of any information given by the United States.

For the minister, I’m wondering if you could tell us if missile defense came up during your conversation today and whether Ukraine is willing to play any role. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to the reports of five individuals being detained in Pakistan, I have no comment at this time.

FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: We did not raise the question of missile defense, but we understand that the question of the global security and question about security of Ukraine assurance for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity is crucially important for us, and there is a different forum how we can guarantee this important question for us, not only the missile defense question. But we are ready for cooperation in different sphere.

MODERATOR: The second question will be posed by Maksym Drabok from Inter TV.

QUESTION: The question is about safety, energy safety. In this charter on strategic partnership which was signed last year, it was mentioned that the United States will help to modernize Ukraine’s gas transportation system, and all the projects will be discussed with the new Administration, with you. So are there any result, any projects, and so on? Thank you very much to both.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to start?

FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: We pay special attention to the question of the energy security and we discussed the very important events which should take place on the 18th of December in Zagrab when Ukraine should join the Energy Community Treaty and on the expert level we finish all this work. And we think that the question of the energy security, again, should be global. This is – it’s impossible to solve on the bilateral level. And I think we demonstrate absolutely good understanding of the current situation, and also in this particular sphere we continue our very effective cooperation with the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Ambassador Morningstar was in our meeting. He is our special envoy on behalf of Eurasian energy. We reiterated, as the minister had said, the importance that we place on Ukraine becoming more energy secure and more energy independent. There is a tremendous opportunity in the future for Ukraine to develop much greater energy sufficiency by attracting investments in the natural gas sector. A lot of it, though, will depend upon the economic and political reforms that Ukraine is addressing.

But we reiterated with the minister and his delegation that we will certainly support Ukraine becoming more integrated within the European energy security framework and we will support in any way, through technical expertise and other assistance, the development of the Ukrainian energy sector. We know that there are a number of investors from the United States and elsewhere who are interested in participating, but the most important precondition is that these economic and political reforms take place so that the Ukrainian people can realize the benefits of their own natural resources.

MR. KELLY: The next question to Jill Dougherty, CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, I understand you said you do not want to make any comment about the specific cases of the people who were arrested in Pakistan, but in a broader sense, this subject of Americans who might be involved in terrorism internationally in other countries seems to be coming up. President Obama spoke about it the other day. I know you’ve spoken with Secretary Napolitano, who’s talked about it. We have a case in Chicago concerned with Mumbai. Could you just, in general terms, tell us, is this an increasing concern? What is the level of the concern at this point?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, I wouldn't describe it as an increasing concern for our Administration because it’s always been a concern. We have been well aware of the threats that we continue to face along with friends and allies around the world. We know that much of the training and the direction for terrorists comes from Pakistan and the border area with Afghanistan.

One of the reasons why President Obama made the decision which he announced last week with respect to our strategy going forward is because we continue to see a syndicate of terrorism that al-Qaida is, in effect, the head of that is not only an aspirational or ideological head, but providing funding and training and equipping and operational direction to a number of terrorist groups.

And therefore, we will remain very vigilant at home. We will work with our friends and allies who face similar threats. But we know we’ve got to work more closely with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to root out the infrastructure of terrorism that continues to recruit and train people who are willing to do what is alleged with Mr. Zazi, David Headley, and others in the recent cases that have come to light.

QUESTION: And Mr. Minister, if I could ask you a quick question, too. The Secretary mentioned the START agreement and we know that, of course, they didn’t quite make that deadline, but they seem to be moving ahead pretty well. In Ukraine’s eyes, in Ukraine’s opinion, is – and from what you know about what they seem to be getting toward, what is Ukraine’s opinion on START? Is it the type of agreement that meets the requirements if – that Ukraine believes are important?

FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: Of course, the – we pay great importance to the START agreement. But for us, it is of very special importance, the connection, the security assurance, which was presented to the whole nuclear states to Ukraine. And I tell Madame Secretary that Ukraine six times in this century losing the – its independence. And for us, we undertake the very decisive step when we – in the beginning of the ‘90s was the third state for the numbers of nuclear weapons we owned. And we voluntarily refuse from these nuclear weapons.

We are interested in the continued dialogue for the – to increasing the form of assurance for the Ukrainian security. And that’s why we have closely connected the question of the assurance to the question of the continuation of the START agreement. That is, I think, our common approach to this question.

MODERATOR: And the last question goes to Ruslan Petrychka from the Ukrainian Service of the Voice of America.

QUESTION: Thank you. A question to both of you. Next month in Ukraine, there are going to be very important presidential elections. And have you discussed this issue in your meeting? And is – are there any steps that the United States can take to assure free and open elections next month?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have reiterated our hope that the election process goes smoothly, that the elections are free and fair and produce an outcome that will be respected, both within Ukraine and around the world. It is for the Ukrainian people to decide who their elected leaders should be.

But the promise of the Orange Revolution, which was so moving to so many of us, is that the people of Ukraine have the right to choose their leaders without interference, without any kind of electoral abuse. And we are doing all we can to support Ukraine. And of course, we will work with whoever the Ukrainian people elect in a fair and free election.

FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: I can only confirm that we now – when the election campaign is already in the peak of their time, we can guarantee and we can demonstrate that the election and the election campaign is free and fair. Me, as a minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine, invite more than 1,000 observers to guarantee the character of the election. We now demonstrate the – one of the greatest achievement of the Ukraine, this is the freedom of speech, freedom of mass media, the equal access of all the candidates to all these resources.

And from my point of view, even the fact that nobody knows – this is the first presidential election in the Ukraine where nobody knows who will be the next president. This is also the symbol of democracy. (Laughter.) And from my point of view, I think that the Ukraine successfully pass these exams for democracy, for the members of this civilized society. And we feel the support from all of our partners, including the United States. And we want to thank the United States for that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all very much.

LINK: (includes video)
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC):
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Clinton confirms security guarantees for Ukraine

By Mykola Siruk, The Day Weekly Digest in English #37
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 15 December 2009 

It seems that both the first meeting of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko and the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington and the inaugural session of the USA-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission have met the expectations of the parties.

Clinton assured the Ukrainian side that the US will pursue the development of a broad partnership with Kiev, and confirmed that the security assurances, which the United States and Russia gave Ukraine after its abandonment of nuclear weapons, will be respected and taken into account in future agreements on the reduction of offensive arms. Poroshenko assured the American party that the presidential elections next month will be fair, transparent, and in accordance with international standards.

A significant part of the dialogue between the parties was devoted to energy security. Poroshenko noted that the issue of energy security can only be solved on a global scale, rather than on a bilateral level. “I think that we have a common understanding of the current situation, and we will continue our effective cooperation with the United States in this area,” the Ukrainian minister emphasized.

For her part, Clinton noted that the U.S. attaches specific importance to Ukraine’s improving its own energy security and becoming more energy independent. “Ukraine has vast opportunities for achieving significant energy efficiency in the future, notably through investment in the natural gas sector.

However, much will depend on the economic and political reforms which Ukraine undertakes,” Clinton said. She assured Poroshenko that the U.S. supports Ukraine’s integration into the European energy security framework and will provide assistance for the development of the Ukrainian energy sector.

At the moment, the question of resuming collaboration with the International Monetary Fund is equally important for Ukraine. Poroshenko informed the U.S. Secretary of State about the measures undertaken by the Ukrainian side to fulfill its obligations within the framework of the cooperation program.

According to him, during the talks the issue of the return of the IMF mission to Ukraine this year was discussed, with the aim of demonstrating the openness and effectiveness of cooperation between the international financial organization and Ukraine. However, it is unclear how Washington, a major source of funding for the IMF, reacted to the request.

Naturally the question of presidential elections in Ukraine was unavoidable during the talks. At the press conference, Clinton addressed the subject: “We have reiterated our hope that the election process goes smoothly, that the elections are free and fair and produce an outcome that will be respected, both within Ukraine and around the world.“

In his turn, Poroshenko declared: “From my point of view, the very fact that nobody knows who will be the next president of Ukraine is clearly indicative of democracy. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, I will invite over 1,000 observers to ensure the fairness of the elections.”
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Interview with Oleksandr Chaly, Former First Deputy Foreign Minster
Interviewed by Alina POPKOVA and Mykola SIRUK,
The Day Weekly Digest in English, #36, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December 5 marked 15 years since the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was signed following Ukraine’s accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ukrainian politicians and experts have recently held debates on the significance of this document. Some call it a “meaningless paper,” while others point out its efficiency.

What has Ukraine acquired by signing the Budapest Memorandum? Can this document help eliminate the security vacuum in which Ukraine has found itself, clutched between two military-political blocs.

Ex-First Deputy of Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Oleksandr CHALY, who was directly involved in the drafting of the Budapest Memorandum, has shared his opinions with The Day.


“December 5, 1995 was a historical day for Ukraine. After the Budapest Memorandum was signed by the RF and US presidents and UK prime minister, it was also joined by France and the Republic of China. Thus Ukraine received special assurances of its security from all of the five regular members of the UN Security Council. It was an unprecedented case in contemporary international life and international law.

“In my opinion, after signing the Budapest Memorandum, the Ukrainian foreign policy faced two strategic alternatives. The first choice was to make the Memorandum the basis for our foreign policy and security strategy in order to position Ukraine as a non-aligned state, which would be neutral in military and security questions. This strategy was quite possible and, I think, most acceptable for Ukraine. It fully conformed to the key regulations of Declaration of Ukraine’s State Sovereignty and Act of Declaration of Independence.

“However, the Ukrainian political elite at the time gave preference to the other strategic alternative — the approach of bloc allegiance. The fundamentals of Ukraine’s international security started to take shape not on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum, but on the policy of NATO accession.”


We hear now various opinions concerning the Budapest Memorandum. It is being called a “paper tiger,” “meaningless paper,” or a “straw.” Many support the idea of revising this document. Can you say what this memorandum has actually given Ukraine?

[1]  “First, in the 21st century such a state as Ukraine, which is a regional European country, can ensure its security exclusively through well-balanced and
        adequate foreign and security policies on the basis of international law and international strategic agreements, which determine its geopolitical status.

        “The Budapest Memorandum is precisely the kind of international legal document that determined Ukraine’s geopolitical status as a non-aligned,
        neutral state with respective security assurances [from other countries].

[2]  “Second, this memorandum is called a ‘paper tiger’ by those who don’t want to view it as the key element of Ukraine’s future foreign policy strategy
       and focus mainly on Ukraine’s continued course towards NATO. This strategy is impossible for objective reasons that do not depend on Ukraine.

[3]  “Third, looking at the real effect the Budapest Memorandum had, in the key moments, when our country faced real threats to its territorial integrity, this
       document worked 100 percent. I want to remind you of the Tuzla Island incident. The first reaction of the Ukrainian diplomats was to apply ‘Tarasiuk’s

"In 1993, he obtained a special decision from the UN Security Council concerning certain territorial claims on Sevastopol. However, the consultations with the UN Security Council proved that neither the Security Council, nor other UN structures were very keen to demonstrate activeness concerning situation in Tuzla. Appeals to our strategic partners in Brussels and Washington also met a restrained reaction.

“As a result, despite different political statements made by Ukraine, Russia continued to build the dam. Then I persuaded them to use the mechanism of consultations stipulated by the Budapest memorandum to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Correspondingly, Ukraine appealed to the US and Russia through diplomatic channels with a request to hold consultations concerning the situation on Tuzla Island. These actions on the part of Ukraine made it possible to solve the situation after informal consultations in Moscow with Russian and US diplomats. The Budapest Memorandum worked efficiently.”

[THE DAY] In your words, the memorandum appears to be an efficient tool, but almost nobody in Ukraine shares your opinion.

“I did not either in the past when I regarded that Ukraine had only one strategy to ensure its national security — joining NATO. In this situation the Budapest Memorandum was unnecessary and even harmful.

“Can one speak in a serious way about the efficiency of the Budapest Memorandum, if Ukraine has never formally used its mechanisms in the 15 years of its existence? All this while Ukrainian diplomats have been seeking other instruments with which to defend the national security rather than the regulations of this memorandum. Therefore, we have hardly any right to criticize it or doubt its efficiency.

“In particular, during the first gas war in 2006, President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine commissioned Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry to send letters of request to the world’s guarantor-countries, asking to hold emergent consultations within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. These letters were signed by the president, but unfortunately, they were never sent.”

[THE DAY] Why not?

“The reason was that the politicians who were carrying out foreign policy at the time understood that they could not send those letters and ask for assurances under the Budapest Memorandum while stating that Ukraine was going to enter NATO. Therefore, they dragged their feet until the last moment. Then, on Jan. 3, 2006, this question became irrelevant.


[THE DAY] You must have seen that the MPs proposed to adopt the declaration “Non-nuclear status should have real guaranties.” Once you also told in an interview to The Day that we need legally binding assurances.

“This question exists. Any document is like a flower. If nobody waters it or cares about it, it will fade, The same thing is with the Budapest Memorandum.

"First, Ukraine has not practically used it in 15 years. Moreover, it had a direct intention not to use it. Second, the circumstances have absolutely changed. After NATO expanded eastwards, and Collective Security Treaty Organization — westwards, Ukraine remains virtually the only big regional European country which is not a member of any of these regional security systems.

“Ukraine has been seeking to become a NATO member for 15 years. However, NATO’s leading countries took into account Russia’s stance and came to a conclusion that Ukraine’s entry into NATO poses more questions in the context of the new pan-European security system than it provides answers.

“This is a long-term tendency, as it was caused by new foundational geopolitical balances of the modern global world.

“Under these circumstances Ukraine, as never before, feels the security vacuum and strategic indefiniteness of its geopolitical status.

“This situation is the result of the NATO-RF relations, which gives grounds to Ukraine’s new president to initiate an international conference of the guarantor-countries in 2010-11 in Ukraine with the aim to work out a new security formula for Ukraine, which would meet today’s challenges, according to Article 6 of the Budapest Memorandum.

“Naturally, this would mean, above all, confirmation and reinforcement of the already existing security assurances as established by the Budapest Memorandum.”

[THE DAY] What is being done in this direction?

“I know that Ukrainian diplomats are working on this issue today. In particular, we have signed in 2008 the Charter on Strategic Partnership with the US in which our overseas strategic partner confirmed its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum.

"Moreover, I regard it as a positive factor that people, including politicians, who have been strong adherents of Ukraine’s future NATO membership (I mean V. Horbulin), have begun to work on the idea of strengthening security assurances stipulated by the Budapest Memorandum.

“On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine has exchanged letters on the highest level with guarantor-countries concerning this question. Here I would draw your attention to the statement made by the RF Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Kharkiv on Oct. 7, 2009:

‘Now we are trying to formulate these assurances so that nobody felt that they are weakened. We are ready to confirm them to the fullest, and hopefully the American side will agree with this, too.’

“Similar assurances were voiced by US Vice President Joe Biden during his visit to Kyiv in July 2009, US Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow in his speech in Ukraine’s Diplomatic Academy in late September 2009, and current U.S. Ambassador John Tefft in his speech before the US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs in early October 2009.

“However, the status of this memorandum should be confirmed not by our foreign partners, but by us. We need to make it the foundation for Ukraine’s new foreign policy. I am sure that there are no political, international, or economic foundations that would prevent Ukraine from doing this after the presidential elections. My contacts with my colleagues and diplomats, scholars and politicians in Washington, Berlin, London, and Moscow show that everybody is ready for this. But everyone is waiting for the decision Ukraine will make and the official stance Kyiv will take."


[THE DAY] If everything is confirmed, will those assurances be necessary for our country’s security? Will there be enough security afterwards?

“The Budapest Memorandum alone is not sufficient by far, even with reinforced security assurances. Ukraine needs to adopt a new foreign policy that would rest on the foundations of the Declaration on Ukraine’s State Sovereignty and regulations of the Budapest Memorandum.

“Seeking a universal formula for Ukraine’s security in the 21st century, Ukraine may be interested in borrowing from Austria’s experience. After the Second World War, this country experienced a considerable lack of security. The Soviet army was stationed on its territory.

"For 10 years Austrian diplomats carried out a consistent and reasonable policy aimed at receiving assurances of Austria’s security from the countries of the Big Four (Great Britain, France, the US, and the USSR) in a package with the obligations taken on by the Soviet Union to withdraw its troops from Austria. In 1955, a relative State Agreement was signed.

“Ukraine in now in a somewhat similar situation. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is stationed on our country’s territory. If we want to reinforce the legal character of the assurances provided by the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine should assume far greater legal obligations concerning its non-aligned and neutral stance.

"In other words, it should remove from its agenda the question of NATO membership. This will enable Ukraine to raise before guarantor-countries the question of withdrawal of Russia’s Black See Fleet from the territory of Ukraine, as a neutral country, by 2017. That is, we should apply the Austrian formula.”

[THE DAY] Is Russia ready to support this formula and withdraw its Black Sea Fleet from Ukraine?

“My informal contacts with Russian diplomats and scholars indicate that Russia is basically ready to accept this formula. A proof of this is a statement Lavrov made in Kharkiv. If Ukraine takes on clear-cut obligations to keep to its position as a non-aligned and neutral state in its practical foreign policy, I am sure that it will be possible to apply the Austrian formula.

“However, as far as I know, the question of withdrawal of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from Ukraine in this context has not been discussed with Russia on the official level.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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Idealizing the Budapest Memorandum cannot and must not be a “step” in the shaping of Ukraine’s foreign policy

By Volodymyr Vasylenko, Professor, Doctor of Law, International law expert,
Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Benelux
The Day Weekly Digest in English #37, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tues, 15 Dec 2009 

The previous issue of The Day published on December 8, 2009, an interview with Oleksandr Chaly, “Document from the ‘shelf’,” devoted to the 15th anniversary of signing the Budapest Memorandum. This subject has caused quite a stir and needs to be discussed in depth.

We are presenting the viewpoint of Prof. Volodymyr Vasylenko who was Ukraine’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Benelux and representative of Ukraine at NATO and took part in drawing up the conceptual principles and specific provisions of the Budapest Memorandum.

To start with, negotiations on security guarantees for Ukraine as a state that had voluntarily forsaken the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal were held not only in Budapest and not only in December 1994. Begun in April 1992 and held first with the US and then with the UK, Russia, and France, the talks ended on December 5, 1994, with the signing of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, whereby Ukraine became a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In addition to Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma, this document was signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, US President Bill Clinton, and UK Prime Minister John Major.

China gave Ukraine security guarantees unilaterally in the governmental statement dated December 4, 1994, as did France in a declaration that was handed in to Ukraine’s delegation together with a covering letter signed by President Francois Mitterand on December 5, 1994.

As it follows from the Memorandum and the above-mentioned unilateral acts, the five nuclear states, permanent members of the UN Security Council, did not make any special commitments with respect to Ukraine – they only reaffirmed their commitment, in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and the CSCE Final Act, to respect the independence, sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine, to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, as well as from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

Besides, they reaffirmed their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine should it become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used, and their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The only specific obligation that the three nuclear states – the US, Russia, and the UK – took was that they “will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.” This means that the aforesaid nuclear states must take part in these consultations at Ukraine’s demand.

However, the Memorandum has no clauses that set out the procedure of convening and conducting such consultations, making and implementing decisions, or explain the nature of sanctions against the potential offender. The documents in which China and France gave Ukraine security assurances do not call for an institution of mandatory consultations. The Chinese declaration only says about the government’s inclination to a “peaceful settlement of differences and disputes by way of fair consultations.” The declaration of France does not mention consultations at all.

Therefore, the form and content of the Memorandum and the above-mentioned unilateral acts show that, unfortunately, the Budapest talks on giving Ukraine security guarantees did not eventually result in a comprehensive international agreement that creates an adequate special international mechanism to protect our national security. Tellingly, the authentic English-language copies of the Memorandum use the term “security assurances” which is far weaker than “security guarantees.” The unilateral declaration of France also speaks about “security assurances” (assurances de securite) rather than security guarantees.
Yet the achieved agreement was significant for both Ukraine and the entire international community. This helped solve a major problem that caused serious tension in the relations between Ukraine and the leading geopolitical players, not in the least Russia, and created the danger of a global nuclear catastrophe. Ukraine no longer feels strong international pressure which, if continued, might have posed a threat of international isolation or even sanctions against this country.

The Budapest Memorandum has created favorable conditions for Ukraine to strengthen its international position and prestige. Ukraine has found new opportunities to establish cooperation with the world’s influential democracies and make a free choice of civilization. After signing the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine is further developing its relations with the EU and NATO, not in the least because this document does not offer a proper mechanism for this county to defend its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

In his lengthy interview, Mr. Chaly says categorically that this course is erroneous and that the Budapest Memorandum should form “the basis of our foreign-policy strategy of security” and be “a key element of Ukraine’s future foreign-policy strategy.” Instead, Ukrainian diplomacy has opted for an “approach of bloc allegiance,” locked this document in the “bottom drawer” and began to build Ukraine’s international principles of security “on the basis of the policy of accession to NATO” rather than on the Memorandum’s provisions.

To buff up his invectives and arguments, he asserts: “The Budapest Memorandum is an international political and legal document that has defined the geopolitical status of Ukraine as a non-aligned, neutral state and given it the required security guarantees.” This statement has absolutely nothing to do with reality. There is not a shadow of a hint in the Budapest Memorandum about a neutral or non-aligned status of Ukraine.

Apparently, Mr. Chaly envies the laurels of those who say, in an attempt to deceive our citizens, that the Ukrainian Constitution has a provision on Ukraine’s neutral status. I once promised to present a truckload of whisky to the one who will find this provision in the Constitution. With due respect for Mr. Chaly’s persona, I am ready to present him with two truckloads of whisky if he manages to find at least an indirect reference to Ukraine’s neutral status in the text of the Budapest Memorandum.

By its very nature and content, the Budapest Memorandum cannot lay the groundwork for this country’s foreign-policy course because it is designed to be applied in exceptional, critical, situations only. This is why this document was “shelved” and Ukrainian diplomats extremely rarely tried to resort to it. And there is nothing abnormal or condemnable in that “only in the critical periods of our modern-day history was it invoked as a likely instrument of national security protection.” Naturally, the Memorandum has never been applied also due to the absence of provisions on a viable crisis-management mechanism.

Mr. Chaly reviles the Ukrainian political elite for NATO membership aspirations because “Russia, as a Budapest Memorandum guarantor country, has always taken a dim view of Ukraine’s accession to NATO.” By this logic, Ukraine should chart its foreign-policy course in line with Russia’s demands that are illegitimate from the angle of international law, rather than on the basis of its national interests. The Budapest Memorandum does not have even one provision that forbids Ukraine to freely exercise its sovereign right to be member of any international organization.

Ukraine’s course towards NATO membership has always been legitimate and in no way jeopardizes the legitimate interests of Russia. But this course does not fit in with the neo-imperial policy of Russia whose ruling elite cannot put up with the fact of an independent Ukraine, continues to consider Ukraine a part of their country, and dreams that it will return to the maternal fold of a revived Great Russia. The reason why Putin’s Russia is hysterically rejecting Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO is that this aspiration will make it absolutely impossible for Russia to stage an imperial comeback.

Therefore, the root cause of a “permanent conflict with the Russian Federation” is not the Ukrainian foreign policy aimed at entering NATO but Russia’s illegitimate and unfriendly actions that are supposed to prevent Ukraine from joining the alliance, the reluctance or, maybe, inability of the current Russian leadership to overcome their imperial complexes and build a relationship with Ukraine on the basis of international law rather than from a position of strength.

Unfortunately, Ukrainian-Russian relations are not the relations between the two sovereign states that respect each other in accordance with international law – it is a situation when Russia is carrying out a large-scale special operation that is aimed against Ukraine in contravention of elementary requirements of international law and good-neighborliness and is eventually supposed to eliminate Ukraine’s political independence. Preventing Ukraine from joining NATO is one of the most important components of this special operation.

Addressing the extended meeting of the Federal Security Service in Moscow on January 29, 2009, President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia said: “There still is an unstable sociopolitical situation in some of the neighboring states, and attempts are still being made to expand NATO, also by way of the so-called accelerated admission of Georgia and Ukraine to the alliance. Quite naturally, this required resolute and highly coordinated efforts on the part of the law-enforcement bodies and other uniformed services. I must say that the Federal Security Service has in general fulfilled the tasks it was assigned.”

Last year Russia’s State Duma held a debate on the budgetary funding of a propaganda campaign to support the status of Ukraine as a neutral state. Oddly enough, all this coincides with the publication of various materials in the Ukrainian media, which try to prove the necessity of Ukraine abandoning its NATO membership course and even suggest introducing a clause on non-aligned status into the new Constitution of Ukraine.

There are a lot of serious studies which prove that the status of a neutral and non-aligned state is unacceptable for Ukraine, for it is ephemeral, costly and one that cannot solve this country’s security problems. This viewpoint is shared by the vast majority of high-profile academics, political scientists and politicians.

With this in view, I will only note that the proclamation of Ukraine as a neutral state will only encourage, rather than stop, Russia’s further aggressive actions against Ukraine. Let me cite a very telling episode in the Russian-Georgian relations, which preceded the large-scale use of armed force by Russia against Georgia in the summer of 2008.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili met in Novo-Ogariovo in February 2008, the latter proposed the following compromise: “We are refusing right now to sign all that you do not like, we are immediately dropping our intentions about NATO and the European Union, we are abandoning any kind of neighborhood policy, but I strongly request you to promise that you will solve the conflicts only by means of agreements and in real terms and that you will return us the territories you occupied.” Putin said in reply: “…we have our own goals about you and others, and we will do our best to achieve them.”

How Russia has achieved its goals about Georgia is common knowledge. So it is now Ukraine’s turn.

Accepting the proposal to strengthen the Budapest Memorandum’s legal guarantees, as Ukraine assumes the status of a neutral and non-aligned state, will be a shameful act of surrender and sellout of national interests. And no juridical word-juggling will hide or justify this.

Naturally, one should welcome the attempts to improve the Budapest Memorandum. But even if a more effective mechanism is created to guarantee
Ukraine’s security (which I think is of little likelihood), it cannot and must not be an alternative to our country’s Euro-Atlantic integration course. NATO membership will be not only the most effective instrument of Ukraine’s security but also a reliable guarantee of the inviolability of the civilization choice this country has made.

It should be noted in this connection that today’s NATO is not a military bloc but a collective security mechanism which is, together with the EU, an important component of the Euro-Atlantic space of civilization. Therefore, it is at least uncivil to characterize Ukraine’s strategic course towards NATO membership as an “approach of bloc allegiance.”

For some well-known reasons, the course of Ukraine towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration is inconsistent today: sometimes this course is called into question by certain politicians for considerations of expediency and sometimes it is openly resisted by chauvinistic anti-Ukrainian forces.

With due account of the objective vital needs of Ukrainian society and in the very interests of Ukraine’s national security, there is no alternative to our country’s course towards full-fledged NATO and EU membership. This is all the more evident in the light of the latest statements and actions by the Russian leadership which regards Ukraine as a lost part of their own territory rather than an independent state.

Hence is unwarranted interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs, blackmail and pressure, a real danger of encroachments on the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine. In the current situation, Ukraine’s public should demand that the president and the government increase the funding of the national Armed Forces. One must make efforts not to carry out dubious projects that obviously run counter to national interests but to boost the efficiency of the Ukrainian army as a practical instrument of defending the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and a key factor of achieving its Euro-Atlantic goals.

The final and full-fledged accession of Ukraine to the European and Euro-Atlantic space will ensure not only the security and stability of the Ukrainian state but also the European standards of wellbeing, the environment, social guarantees, labor law, medical care, and the free development and personal freedom of every individual. All this does not and cannot exist, by definition, in Russia whose leadership is incurably ill with the imperial syndrome, great-power chauvinism, and authoritarianism.

So pursuing a course towards Ukraine’s full-fledged NATO and EU membership is a moral and legal imperative for any president any government of Ukraine, which should be accompanied by radical reforms indispensable for meeting membership criteria as well as by a strenuous effort to impartially inform Ukrainian citizens about the nature of these alliances and the advantages of being their member.

Of paramount importance in the NATO membership issue is the opinion of the Ukrainian people, but they should not express it now, as the anti-Ukrainian chauvinistic forces are demanding, because a considerable part of the populace remains, unfortunately, misinformed. A referendum on Ukraine’s accession to NATO should only be held after the Ukrainian government has made a formal request to be admitted to the alliance.

There is no doubt that the properly informed citizens of Ukraine will say “yes” to our country’s NATO membership and, hence, to their security and the reliable guarantee of their rights, basic freedoms, and wellbeing.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Commentary: By Oleh Rybachuk and Taras Chornovil
Financial Times, London, UK, Monday, November 23 2009 

Konrad Adenauer, the former German chancellor, said: “History is the sum total of things that could have been avoided.” It is an appropriate epigraph to what Ukraine has lived through since the Orange Revolution five years ago last weekend.

There are different views on what happened, but it is clear there are no winners and losers. Ukraine has been united by common disillusionment.

The bitter taste of frustration gave people some hope. Perhaps politicians are still not fully aware, but Ukrainians have become wiser and more mature. Upcoming presidential elections will no longer split the country: people understand they are regular occurrences and not an irreversible choice.

No longer do people perceive political leaders as either godlike messiahs or synonyms for national disaster. Lower expectations and fears will enable us to vote using not only our emotions but our wisdom as well. Whoever becomes president will not be an icon, and people will try to use the institutions of civil society to force them to keep their pre-election promises. We are gradually returning to fundamental European principles for how politicians are elected and interract with the electorate.

In the same way, presidential candidates know the emotional background of the previous election is unlikely to be repeated. Although they played the traditional blame games afterwards, they have also made more of an effort to persuade us which of them would be the best manager of the country. They may slip into populism, but their discussions of who is better at taking care of social standards or at fighting the financial crises will not split the country.

Some will still hunger for absolute power, but we have learnt how to combat that.
There was no festive mood on the day of the anniversary last weekend, but the Orange Revolution has set the foundations of the country Ukraine must become.

First there was the emergence of real political competition. No one has a monopoly on politics, business or mass media any more,and those in power cannot abuse the resources at hand. In the parliamentary campaigns of 2006 and 2007, the opposition gained the upper hand. The country is now in the middle of a presidential campaign and again the opposition looks set to win.

The most frequently mentioned result of what took place five years ago in Independence Square is the arrival of freedom of speech. It is now taken for granted by Ukrainians but it must be continuously guarded by civil society as something very precious and fragile.

Another achievement, which has been overshadowed by the global economic crises, was the long-awaited accession to the World Trade Organisation as well as noticeable progress in the European integration process. The latter gives Ukrainian businesses a chance to access the largest market in the world.

To understand Ukraine one has to understand its history. There was no well-established democratic tradition and no time-tested checks and balances of government or political culture. There remains rocketing corruption, and the irresponsible ruling elite are not concentrating on the vital issues facing Ukraine, even as the world has fallen into one of its most severe financial crises.

Increasingly, we hear from Europe and the US that they are “fed up with Ukraine”. But while one can be frustrated with individual Ukrainian politicians whom were often indulged by Europe and the US, one should not be disappointed with the country as a whole.

Today Ukraine is more mature than it was five years ago. And any partial rejection of Ukraine by the democratic world, which is occasionally inspired by our partners in Russia, may become an unfair and very dangerous blow in this complicated period.

Today it is important to give Ukraine clear conditions for EU membership, using small, specific steps such as action plans and supervision. Deepening integration will follow. One priority must be to build a transparent energy security system which involves Ukraine, Russia and Europe.

Ukraine is on the eve of its presidential elections. There is a strong feeling that it does not matter who wins, but how the position will be influenced, monitored and controlled by the Ukrainian people. The country needs a more responsible citizenry to make the political elite more responsible.

NOTE: Oleh Rybachuk was the chief of staff to President Victor Yushchenko in 2005. Taras Chornovil was the chief of Victor Yanukovych’s presidential campaign in 2004

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Those longing for strong-armed rule may outnumber those
who want to preserve their imperfect democracy.

Commentary by Myroslava Gongadze, Journalist, Civil Rights Activist
The Wall Street Journal Europe, Monday, November 23, 2009

Five years ago this month, an orange sea of Ukrainians flooded the streets of Kiev. Protesting the attempt of then-President Leonid Kuchmas' administrative machine to falsify election results, they demanded the right to choose their country's leader. They demonstrated to the world their desire for freedom, justice, and democracy. They brought new leadership to power but it failed to deliver most of the promises given to the people on the frozen Maidan.

Disillusioned and discouraged, Ukrainians are coming to the polls once again this January. And now, those longing for strong-armed rule may well outnumber those who want to preserve their imperfect democracy. It's time for the West to take note.

Over the past five years, the people's desire to see political leaders held accountable for their wrongdoings remains unfulfilled. The promise of justice, which became the mantra of the Orange Revolution, was betrayed in its aftermath. Most of the crimes of Mr. Kuchma's regime remain unpunished, while many of their alleged instigators still enjoy privileged status and material comfort. Some even received awards or promotions from the new authorities.

Moreover, Ukraine's current rulers retain immunity from prosecution and engage in corrupt activities with the same sense of impunity as their predecessors. According to a 2009 Transparency International report, Ukraine's corruption level remains on par with Russia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, showing no improvement since 2004.

Unrealized reforms and widespread corruption have had a major corrosive effect on the Ukrainian public. According to the last poll by the Pew Research Center, over two-thirds of Ukrainians believe that only a leader with a strong hand can solve the country's problems. By contrast, only one in five Ukrainians thinks that democracy is an answer.

Even though disappointment with democracy and capitalism shows in most of the countries of the former Soviet bloc, Ukraine still stands out. Only a third of Ukrainians approve of the country moving from a state-controlled to a market economy, and a change to multiparty democracy.

From a once promising democratic leader in the region, Ukraine has transformed into an example of disenchantment for the democratic and civil society activists in neighboring countries. Belarusian activists and Russian opposition can no longer show their followers that effective public protest can bring genuine changes to the country.

Responding to public demand and pursuing their own agenda, the front runners in the 2010 Ukrainian election are promising to restore Putin-style vertical power with centralized political control. Moreover, they lack transparency in decision making and possess a weak commitment to fighting corruption especially in their close circles. They hide their true personal wealth and publicize dubious income declarations that have become the target of many investigative reports.

Day-by-day it is becoming harder for Ukrainian journalists to do their job. Even before the election campaign started, a Ukrainian court barred criticism of one presidential candidate, current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko The ruling was later revoked after a major outcry from civil society groups.

Still, TV reports are not covering the sharpest criticism of the front runners. The main achievement of the Orange Revolution, freedom of the press, is now in danger. Having once managed to reclaim their rights and freedoms in front of the world, Ukrainians risk losing it all over again.

The EU and other democratic nations need urgently to develop a clear constructive and principled policy with regard to Ukraine. Their calls for free and fair elections today will not have much of an effect on the Ukrainian authorities without a real commitment to hold them to their word. Whoever will become the next president of Ukraine needs to be watched closely, and they should get that message now.

Another honeymoon with a Ukrainian leader, if similar to the one with Mr. Kuchma in 2000 and with Victor Yushchenko in 2005, could lead to the complete collapse of Ukraine's fledgling democracy.

If the next leaders of Ukraine prove unwilling or unable to bring about change for the country, and instead continue down the path toward their authoritarian past, the only solution for the west will be to focus on the growing civil society and support new emerging leaders.

This, at least, will guarantee that the few gains of the Orange Revolution will not be reversed. And even if Ukrainians lose their way today, the basic democratic reforms they have earned will ensure that their destiny will still remain in their own hands.
NOTE: Ms. Gongadze is a Ukrainian journalist and human rights activist, and the widow of slain Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze.

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European Union's top official plainly stated what's wrong with Ukraine

Mark Rachkevych, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 4, 2009

KYIV -  The European Union’s top official in Ukraine this week dropped diplomatic doublespeak and nuance and said what he and a lot of others really think about what’s wrong with the nation.

“Corruption, red tape, administrative obstacles of every kind – these are only things that serve the interests of those who today control the economy because they do not want competition. They are allergic to competition,” Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira of Portugal told journalists on Nov. 30. “The vast majority of Ukrainians cannot have employment, cannot have decent salaries, do not have a decent social system, because the country today is in many aspects like 20 years ago.”

Teixeira’s comments came ahead of the Ukraine-European Union summit in Kyiv on Dec. 4 and against a backdrop of the nation’s long-stalled efforts to achieve European integration and shed its Soviet past. The remarks, which the ambassador elaborated on in a Dec. 2 interview with the Kyiv Post, also came ahead of the Jan. 17 presidential election, a race in which a candidate who will usher in major reforms is hard to identify.

In an interview, Teixeira wouldn’t name names when asked to be specific about who he thinks is stifling Ukraine’s economy and democratic progress. But he also said he doesn’t think it is much of a mystery about who is creating the bottlenecks.

A list of top suspects might start with Ukraine’s richest businessmen, or the so-called oligarchs, who today have commanding influence in politics and who control much of the country’s economy. They made spectacular fortunes from the opaque privatizations of government-owned assets after the nation gained independence in 1991.

They have long reaped billion-dollar profits out of Ukraine, and are accused by some of stalling changes – such as progressive yet simplified taxes, effective law enforcement and less bureaucracy – that could make Ukraine’s economy fairer and more competitive.

While a couple of them – Rinat Akhmetov and Victor Pinchuk – have spokespeople who pump out scads of press releases, Ukraine’s richest pair would not comment to the Kyiv Post this week about Teixeira’s comments or whether they thought he was talking about them. Kostyantin Zhevago refused comment. Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoisky could not be reached before the newspaper went to press on Dec. 3.

But an endorsement of Teixeira’s assessment came from Andrei Lobatch of the Foundation for Effective Governance, a policy center funded by Akhmetov. “I agree with him in a general way. There are a lot of things that need to be done. There is obviously a great need to have a consolidated view on reform priorities.”

Oleksandr Sushko, an analyst with the Institute for European Atlantic Cooperation, said some Ukrainian industries are hindering progress towards a free-trade agreement with the European Union because their owners fear competition and loss of profits. “One must approach this carefully,” Sushko said. “It’s impossible to ignore domestic businesses because their short-term interests don’t always coincide with the long-term interests of government.”

In his Dec. 2 interview with the Kyiv Post, Teixeira said his views are common knowledge. While the nation has made progress, the ambassador said Ukraine still lacks a “consolidated political view” and is hobbled by an unclear constitution, a poor legal system, “widespread corruption and conflicts within the country’s institutions of power.” He also called the nation’s haphazard path “unsustainable.”

Teixeira also said on Nov. 30 that “very little has been done” in the last 18 years. “Politicians should tune into the reality more. Much more could have been done. There is a long way to go and the nation’s [citizens are] demanding progress.”

The recent economic crisis and current recession have exposed how undiversified Ukraine’s economy remains, dependent upon exports of steel, raw materials and thereby extremely vulnerable to global price shocks. The Soviet-era industries of steel, chemicals and coal mining dominate the economic landscape. These heavy industries are located in the country’s industrial east and south and are owned by a handful of business groups, including those controlled by Akhmetov, Pinchuk, Kolomoisky and Serhiy Taruta.

While Ukraine’s business tycoons have started to invest into modernizing these highly inefficient behemoths, their efforts are seen as small compared to the large fortunes earned to date in the sectors . Together, with others, Ukraine’s oligarchs wield immense influence in government and, along with their industries, are able to command big favors.

The government recently extended a freeze on gas, electricity and railway tariffs in effect since November 2008. The sweetheart deals will now last through the end of 2010 for steel and iron ore producers. According to a Millennium Capital analyst, the rate freeze “is negative for electricity manufacturers and railway companies as well as other companies who might gain from raising the tariffs. But metallurgy is the main source of hard currency inflow into the country and the interests of all others take the back seat now.”

More than half of the nation’s 50 wealthiest Ukrainians either made money in or are currently involved in the Soviet-era industries of steel, iron ore and coal mining, chemical production, machine building and automotives. Their estimated combined wealth in July was $16.6 billion, according to Dragon Capital, or 15 percent of the country’s 2009 forecasted nominal gross domestic product. The July estimated combined market capitalization of Ukraine’s metallurgical and mining companies is $13 billion, according to Dragon Capital.

Yaroslav Misyats, head of the Party of Small and Medium Size Businesses, said the government is more to blame than the business elite. “The oligarchs exist as long as the nomenclature allows and encourages it,” Misyats said. “The Ukrainian government is built on theft, controls theft, and proliferates it. That is what does not allow Ukraine to move forward.”

But others think that Ukraine’s business elite exerts more influence over politicians than vice versa. And many of the nation’s business elites also have powerful posts in government, holding seats in parliament or other positions. So if they had a genuine interest in changing the status quo, many think they could have done so by now.

“Undoubtedly, in Ukraine there are forces that perceive free trade and the reforms pursued by the Tymoshenko-government as a threat to monopolies and corrupt ways of doing business,” said Hryhoriy Nemyria, vice prime minister in Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Cabinet. “But, we won’t be deflected from establishing a free trade regime [with the EU] which provides an equal playing field.”

Whoever is to blame, the consequence is clear for average Ukrainians.

“Many Ukrainians are living in poverty, are underemployed, underpaid; they have poor health care and social support systems because the country hasn’t enacted any real reform. It lacks the political will to democratize Ukraine,” said Yevhen Bystrytsky, head of the Renaissance Foundation.

Ukraine has consistently scored poorly in various international evaluations. This year, Transparency International said the level of corruption, already alarmingly high, has worsened to 146 out of 180 countries surveyed. Ukraine also sunk in the Global Competitiveness Report, dropping from 72 to 82 out of 133 countries ranked.

In terms of quality of life, Ukraine was placed with Indonesia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, according to the latest United Nations Development Program report. Direct foreign investment has been paltry in Ukraine since independence, especially compared to neighboring nations such as Poland.

Anna Derevyanko, executive director of the European Business Association, said that investment “should be fast, easy and transparent.” But it is not. “It seems like our political leaders don’t have a strategic view on Ukraine’s development,” Derevyanko added.

Jorge Zukoski, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, echoed the sentiment: “The reticence of the political elite to embark on the path of true reforms that roots out corruption, strengthens the rule of law, fosters transparency and creates a level and clear playing field for all market players has not yet been a priority in the 18 years since independence. The frustration that the EU leadership feels is understandable as they and others have continually extended a hand of friendship to the leaders of Ukraine.”

Since 1992, the EU has given Ukraine more than 1 billion euro in aid and is currently the largest donor of technical assistance, providing on average of nearly 200 million euro annually. The upshot is that Ukraine-EU “action plans” are misnomers – action has been lacking.

So it was hard to argue with Borys Tarasyuk, head of parliament's committee on European integration, when he said on Dec. 1 that it is “too optimistic to speak of signing the association agreement” between Ukraine and the European Union at the Dec. 4 summit.

The agreement, meant to move integration forward, also isn’t foreseen anytime soon by Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantin Yeliseyev. He said on Dec. 2: “There is political readiness on the European side to take the earliest opportunity to sign an association agreement with Ukraine, which would involve a free trade zone, but certain conditions are to be created for this – Ukraine must do its homework, as it were.”

NOTE: Kyiv Post staff writers Yuliya Popova and John Marone contributed to this story.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
The EU's loss of patience with a turbulent Kiev suggests another
victory for Russia in the struggle for the former Soviet republics

Simon Tisdall, Guardian, London, UK, Wed 25 Nov 2009 

LONDON - EU officials are casting a wary eye at Ukraine as it prepares for watershed presidential elections in January that look likely to spark a lurch back towards the Russian sphere five years after the former Soviet republic was supposedly set free by the "Orange Revolution". The cautious approach in Brussels is again raising questions about the EU's apparent lack of a strategic vision – and political courage – in its dealing with its eastern neighbours.

Fierce rivalry between President Viktor Yushchenko, who is standing for re-election, and his prime minister and principal opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, is feeding worries about the recession-ravaged country's political and economic stability.

Yushchenko's decision this month to approve a 20% increase in wages and pensions, characterised by critics as a crude pre-election bribe, led the IMF to freeze the fourth installment of a $16.4bn bailout package. That in turn increased credit market fears of a sovereign default.

Tymoshenko, a famously combative millionaire currently leading in the polls, accused the president of deliberately sabotaging the IMF agreement to starve her government of cash and undermine her presidential bid. But she in turn has been accused of sucking up to the Russians, in the shape of the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, who as Russia's then president opposed the Orange Revolution and is an inveterate Yushchenko foe.

After late-night talks with Tymoshenko in the Crimean resort of Yalta last week, Putin said he had agreed to waive various penalties and amend Russia's natural gas supply contract with Ukraine to avoid a repeat of last January's dispute, which led to serious gas shortages in eastern and central Europe.

"It would be very good to meet the new year without any shocks," Putin said, adding that transit fees next year would rise by 60% – a change potentially worth billions of dollars to Ukraine. Tymoshenko's response was unctuous. "You, as a strong country, are meeting us halfway," she said. The deal was seen as both a none-too-subtle attempt to show that she, unlike Yushchenko, could do business with Moscow, and as blatant electoral interference by Putin.

Ukraine's shenanigans have even led football's ruling body, Uefa, to seek assurances that preparations and financing for the Euro 2012 championship, to be hosted jointly by Poland and Ukraine, will not be affected by the elections. Uefa is also worried that visa-free travel arrangements with the EU have yet to be agreed.

All this is watched with trepidation in Brussels, where José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, recently telephoned Yushchenko to reportedly express concern over the way the IMF bailout and Europe's gas supplies have become political footballs.

According to, commission plans to offer euro500m in economic aid are under review "because of Kiev's unwillingness to curb public spending or to clean up waste and corruption at its national gas company, Naftogaz". About 80% of EU natural gas supplies from Russia transit Ukraine.

Such is the animosity between the rival camps that EU officials fret that the election, which is also contested by the pro-Russian former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, could end in stalemate and possibly violent recriminations, as happened in 2004 when Yanukovich was initially declared the winner and then unseated.

These strains and stresses lend an air of crisis to the EU-Ukraine summit on 4 December, which is shaping up as the first big test for the untried diplomatic skills of the EU's new foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton. Officials say the EU aims to give Ukraine a "stern warning" that substantive political and financial reform is a prerequisite for progress on issues such as visas and future association and trade agreements.

But full EU membership, on which Yushchenko set his heart, is now a receding prospect. Impatience with Ukraine across the EU is growing, with France and Germany, for example, delaying its accession to the EU's energy community treaty.

More significantly, last year's Russian invasion of Georgia, and Moscow's accompanying claims of Ukrainian support for Tbilisi, have driven home the message in Brussels that forging closer, structural ties with Ukraine could have severe, negative consequences for EU-Russian relations.

Given the much reduced appetite for further EU enlargement, it seems certain that the high watermark of EU-Ukraine ties has already passed. It's no consolation for Yushchenko that much the same applies to Georgia, Belarus and Turkey. And for many in Europe who hoped for better, braver things along the EU's post-Soviet eastern frontier, it's galling to conclude that, in a sense, Putin has won.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

By Tomas Valasek, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence, CER.
CER Bulletin, Issue 69, Center for European Reform, Dec 2009/Jan 2010

There is no rule for how a government desiring to join the EU should make its case. But countries that managed to accede in recent years had done so by observing a few simple guidelines: cultivate friends among EU governments, be prepared to make painful sacrifices and, above all, show patience and good faith.

Ukraine, the largest of the East European countries hoping to join, has broken every one of those principles over the past two years. As a result, it has fallen from the EU’s grace. EU countries like the Netherlands and Germany have always opposed offering Ukraine a ‘membership perspective’. But only two or three years ago, “the majority of EU governments were in favour of [Ukraine] joining,” said one European Commission official dealing with the country.

“Today, EU governments have stopped caring.”

Ukraine’s most recent own goal consisted of Kyiv apparently lying to Brussels about the situation in its gas sector. Kyiv (and Moscow) warned in May and June 2009 that gas levels in Ukrainian storage tanks were too low to guarantee uninterrupted supplies during the winter.

The European Commission – worried about a repeat of the January 2009 crisis that left parts of Europe in the cold for two weeks – sprung into action. It lined up key financial institutions including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to lend Ukraine billions of dollars to buy gas and reform its energy sector.

The feared gas shortage probably never existed. At the end of August, Kyiv declared that its reservoirs, which hold about 27 billion cubic metres of gas, were full. Experts say that Russia could have only pumped about 6-7 billion cubic metres between May and August. This suggests that the gas tanks had been close to full all along.

In creating a false alarm, Kyiv has shown complete disregard for itsreputation in Europe. This fits into a broader pattern. This year, Ukraine has also failed to act on promises it had made to the EU to raise gas prices, and make its energy business more transparent – not to speak of various other changes that the country would need to implement if it was serious about integrating with the EU.

No wonder: Ukraine has been in a political crisis for years. President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are not on speaking terms.

Both are vying for the presidency in the January 2010 elections, and have spent more time campaigning than governing. Even though the country’s economy is contracting at a rate of over 15 per cent and the government is seriously short of cash, Yushchenko signed off a 10 per cent hike in public sector salaries in October. This prompted the International Monetary Fund to suspend its multi-billion lifeline for Ukraine. Like the EU, the IMF struggles to find anyone in Kyiv to talk to.

Of course, EU governments are right to be disillusioned with Ukraine. But the EU must also shoulder some of the blame for Ukraine’s paralysis. With several EU governments calling for a stop to enlargement, more Ukrainians are giving up hope of ever being allowed to join. Ukraine’s politicians are responding by downplaying the virtues of EU accession: they do not want to be associated with failure.

The leading candidate in the presidential elections, Viktor Yanukovich, wants Ukraine to abandon its pursuit of EU (and NATO) integration and draw closer to Russia. Two other candidates, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Volodymyr Lytvyn, are ambivalent about getting closer to the West. The main proponent of western integration, President Yushchenko, is deeply unpopular and certain to lose in the January election.

The EU and Ukraine are getting locked in a vicious circle: the EU gives up hope for change in Ukraine, and politicians in Kyiv use the lack of EU incentives as an excuse for not addressing the mess the country is in. The EU should be tough on Ukraine, but also offer more attractive rewards in case reforms start happening.

The presidential elections present a chance to break the vicious circle. Tymoshenko, though currently polling second, stands a chance of winning in the run-off. She is more ambiguous than Yushchenko on EU membership but broadly in favour. Post-election, she will have fewer reasons to worry about upsetting voters.

The EU should make it clear that if the new government reforms the energy sector, judiciary and constitutional law (all areas of concern) and completes a free-trade agreement with the EU (under negotiation but currently stalled), the Union would respond forcefully by offering the much-desired membership perspective.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC):
Promoting U.S.-Ukraine business relations & investment since 1995.
Analysis & Commentary: By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Kyiv-Patriarchate
U.S. Spokesperson for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii of Kyiv and All Ukraine
Schenectady, New York, Monday, January 4, 2010
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution lives!  The country’s cultural and spiritual reawakening shows that requiems and obituaries are premature. 
President Viktor Yushchenko has been criticized for his political and economic stewardship.  Some of it justified.  Although not yet recognized, his legacy is positive and significant.  He is the first Ukrainian president who embraced and encouraged the country’s distinct Eastern Slav consciousness. 

Yushchenko challenged his countrymen, Jew, Muslim, Christian, and non-believer to ask who they were as one Ukrainian nation.  He reached out to Jews and Muslims as no leader has before to underscore their contributions to Ukraine.   
Ultimately, a country’s soul is defined by its artists, writers, composers, and the language its people speak.  Although unable to show a deft touch in educating those who identified with Russian culture in eastern Ukraine or the Crimea, Yushchenko nurtured a national reawakening.  He did so, in part, at the expense of bread and butter issues during a worldwide recession. 
Yushchenko showed no sympathy in dealing with Russia’s national identity crisis.  What does it mean to be Russian without Kyiv, the Mother of All Russian cities?  His indifference fueled Moscow’s ongoing efforts to marginalize Ukrainian culture, language, and history in the international media.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine is nothing more than a break away province.  He incorrectly insists that it never existed as a nation prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Ukraine has a thousand year history.  Its final incorporation into Russia occurred when Empress Catherine finally defeated the libertarian, free-spirited Ukrainian kozak state with its rudimentary democratic structure.
Spiritually, there can be no Russia without Kyiv.  Culturally, politically, and intellectually Moscow cannot let go of Ukraine because to do so leaves its own national identity in question.  The Eastern Slavic soul beats in Kyiv, not Moscow, Novgorod, St. Petersburg, or any where else in Russia or Belorussia. 
It’s ironic that Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow supported presidential candidate from eastern Ukraine, recently told the Associated Press that “the development of . . . democratic principle in our country” was a “price . . .  too great.”
Yet Yanukovych benefits from the very freedom he criticizes in his campaign.  During the Associated Press interview Yanukovych also mocked the Ukrainian language as “gibberish” and the messiness of democracy as a “variety show.”  He vows commitment to a Leninist “rule of law” and the restoration of the Russian language to its superior place. 
Regardless of who is the country’s president, the sky is blue if Ukrainians in the country and those in the Diaspora work to cultivate the Ukrainian language.  If young artists, writers, dancers, musicians, composers, and Christian and non-Christian spiritual leaders in Ukraine nurture the Ukrainian-Eastern Slav soul then the wheat fields are golden. 
President Yushchenko opened the door.  Complacency will shut it.  The Orange Revolution is not about personalities.  It is about ideas, values, and principles.  It's about the culture of a people.  Ukrainians are the only Eastern Slav people with the courage to wrestle with the challenges of democracy.  Democracy is not about convenience.  It is about liberty.
The Orange Revolution can and will live on so long as patriots and those in the Diaspora recognize the critical importance of promoting Ukrainian art, culture, language, and literature.  It will not matter who is president so long as ordinary Ukrainians in Ukraine and the Diaspora work to nurture, preserve, and further the country's distinct heritage.       

CONTACT: Bishop Paul Peter Jesep, By Appointment of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Myfodii of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations in the United States, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Kyiv Patriarchate; PMB 464 - 1737 Union Street, Schenectady, New York 12309, United States of America (USA);
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Editorial, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, Dec 25, 2009

Ukraine finds itself at the end of the 21st century’s first decade dogged by many of the same persistent problems it faced at its outset.

As both the year and the decade come to an end, nations and individuals naturally take stock of their progress, setbacks and their hopes for the future. For Ukraine, the high point of the decade clearly came during the 2004 Orange Revolution, when Ukrainians collectively found their voice and discovered their power to change the course of the nation’s history and to hold their leaders accountable.

This astounding achievement of unity and indomitable will was sullied by the betrayals and broken promises of political leaders. Regrettably, average Ukrainians have also not been able to band together again and influence their leaders as profoundly as during that glorious moment.

It takes a long view of history to see the good that has come during this decade. But, amid all the current and serious troubles, this nation arguably had its best decade in centuries. The nation is no longer divided territorially. Its people are no longer starving, no longer have to fend off attacks from foreign invaders and no longer serving Soviet or czarist masters.

As badly as President Victor Yushchenko has performed, this is the first decade in which Ukraine can boast a string of elections that approach democratic standards. And, for at least the last half of the decade, this is the first time in which Ukrainians have not been stifled by an authoritarian government.

But this is not enough for a nation that can be so much more successful. Today, Ukraine is drifting along and in danger of getting swept away by dangerous currents. The nation remains unsure of itself and political freedoms are imperiled. More importantly, for most people, economic fairness and vitality remain elusive. This is also a nation of massive injustices and no person or institution to rectify them.

The decade started off with former President Leonid Kuchma beating a Communist Party candidate to win re-election and continue ruling as a despot, running the government and economy at his whim and at the whims of the favored oligarchs. The media, reflecting larger society, were fearful and servile.

But people who are given absolute power usually trip themselves up, sooner or later. The change for the better was born from terrible tragedy: The murder of outspoken journalist Georgiy Gongadze on Sept. 16, 2000. Allegations that high-level Kuchma officials ordered the murder were lent credibility by events that transpired: the conviction of three Interior Ministry police officers, the two-shots-to-the-head “suicide” of Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, the revelation – in November 2000 – of hundreds of hours of recordings of Kuchma.

Considering the way the Kuchma regime operated, the events discussed on those tapes of former security guard Mykola Melnychenko were highly believable. It is a pity that the decade is ending without any convictions or exoneration for those implicated.

The “Ukraine without Kuchma” movement showed that civil society is alive and provided a segue into the 2002 parliamentary election and emergence of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko and Oleksandr Moroz’s Socialist Party. All were forces of good at that time and paved the way for the Orange Revolution, which blocked attempts to steal the Nov. 21, 2004, presidential election by Moscow’s favored successor, Victor Yanukovych.

The power brokers were forced to back off and bow to the people's wishes, but not entirely. They outmaneuvered a compliant Yushchenko and muddled the Constitution so badly that the nation still suffers from the ill-fated compromise that ended the peaceful street protests.

The country failed to translate its political successes into any meaningful progress in deregulation or diversification of the economy. The business environment remains hostile to investment. The public sector remains simultaneously bureaucratic and starved of necessary investments to improve infrastructure, energy efficiency and education.

The country’s rich, made wealthy not by initiative but rather by grossly unfair acquisitions of Soviet assets – grew even richer. If they haven’t monopolized power and privatized the government to serve their selfish needs, they are perilously close to doing so.

A contender for quote of the year, if not decade, came from Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, the top European Union official in Ukraine, who offered a cogent analysis of Ukraine’s problems on Nov. 30: “Corruption, red tape, administrative obstacles of every kind. These are only things that serve the interests of those who today control the economy because they do not want competition. They are allergic to competition.”

And so that’s where Ukraine is at the end of the 21st century’s first decade, dogged by many of the same persistent problems. Anyone who attempts to introduce fairness, equity and justice into this nation will more than likely face powerful resistance from the entrenched interests that populate the list of the nation's 50 richest citizens.

As tired and disillusioned as they are, Ukrainians have the strength, desire and resources to shape their own destiny in the new decade, one in which we hope that real changes for the better will finally take place for all 46 million citizens of this great nation.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Presidential frontrunner says Ukraine paid too high a price on democratic reform

By Simon Shuster and Dima Vlasov, Associated Press Writers
Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Tue, December 29, 2009 

KIEV - Ukraine has paid too high a price for the democratic reforms ushered in by the 2004 Orange Revolution, according to the pro-Russian front-runner in the country's presidential race, who pledges to bring back the "rule of law" if elected next month.

Viktor Yanukovych, whose Kremlin-backed election victory in 2004 was overturned by the Supreme Court amid allegations of fraud, says the pro-Western revolution that brought his rivals to power has led to political chaos, corruption and a dismal economy.

"So what did this Orange Revolution give us?," Yanukovych asked in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "Freedom of speech? That's very good. But what price did the Ukrainian people pay for this? For the development of this democratic principle in our country, the price was too great."

Democracy is "above all the rule of law," which the Orange Revolution has failed to bring, he said.

Since taking power in 2005 on a wave of hope and excitement, the revolution's leaders have disappointed many Ukrainians, fostering nostalgia among some for the stable, if autocratic, rule of an earlier era.

The Orange Revolution took Ukraine out of Russia's orbit, as the pro-Western leadership sought membership in the European Union and NATO. It also deepened animosity between the pro-Russian east and the west of the country, where Ukrainian nationalism is strong.

Yanukovych said his first priority as president would be to revive the use of the Russian language in schools and in the workplace, a move that would reverse the "forced Ukrainization" of the millions of Russian-speaking Ukrainians who support him. "This is the main question that we have to solve right now, the one that is very seriously worrying the people," he said.

This change would comply with the one wish Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made last week for the Ukrainian elections. "The only thing I really want is for the future president ... to be intent on warm, heartfelt, even brotherly relations between our countries, and for the Russian language not to be insulted," Medvedev said in a televised interview.

With elections less than three weeks away, Yanukovych, 59, is leading in the polls. The former electrician told the AP that he would put his weight behind Moscow on issues ranging from trade to security.

He repeated his pledge not to seek membership in NATO, Russia's Cold War foe. But he said he would give his full support to Medvedev's proposal for a joint European security regime, which has gotten an icy reception in most of Europe. He also promised, if elected, to do everything in his power to speed Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

Viktor Yushchenko, the current president and the leader of the Orange Revolution, is going into the vote with approval ratings in the single digits. He has been at loggerheads with his former ally, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, for most of his time in office, causing political gridlock that has deepened the country's economic collapse and alienated voters.

Yanukovych, a barrel-chested hunting enthusiast, also denied that his 2004 presidential victory had been fixed. Instead the Supreme Court broke the law when it overturned his election and ordered another round of voting, he said.

"The third round of those elections was illegal," he said. "Why? Because five years have passed, and in those five years, the falsification of my election has basically not been proven. This means that those elections were legal. They were not rigged."

His campaign has focused on shaming Tymoshenko, his only real competition, for her leadership of the Orange Revolution, which he blames for turning Ukraine's government into one of the most corrupt in the world and its economy into one of the worst-performing.

"Democracy is above all rule of law, it is compliance with the law and constitution by everyone, and in these five years we have seen how the laws have been systematically broken, how the principles of the law have been replaced by political expediency," Yanukovych said.

In most of the country, the issues of language and national identity have been more divisive than bread-and-butter issues like unemployment. The word
"Ukraine" derives from the Russian for "at the outskirts," an identity the leaders of the Orange Revolution have sought to uproot by promoting a unique Ukrainian identity. The use of Russian, seen by its opponents as a symbol of Soviet subjugation, has been phased out.

On a recent campaign trip to the Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula, where he enjoys broad support, Yanukovich poked fun at the Ukrainian language and the politicians who insist on speaking it.

As he mocked Tymoshenko's upbeat appraisals of the economy, he sarcastically switched into Ukrainian from Russian, drawing laughs from the crowd of about 2,000 supporters.

Switching back into Russian, he said, "I'm tired of hearing five years of this gibberish, and seeing this variety show performed by the Orange troupe."

Valentina Goncharova, a 59-year-old retiree who said she receives a pension of around $100 per month, said she supports Yanukovich not because of his promises of higher pensions and wages, but because of his pro-Russian views.

"The Crimea has always belonged to Russia," she said. "It has always been closer to Russia. I think that is why people support him here."

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Analysis & Commentary: By John Marone, 
Columnist of Eurasian Home website, Kyiv, Ukraine
Eurasian Home, Moscow, Russia, Friday, December 18, 2009

Ukraine is about to elect a new president, but the main contenders are anything but new. In first place in the polls is former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the villain of the 2004 race, which was decided only after the country’s Orange Revolution.

Since 2004, Mr. Yanukovych has done much to shed his image as an ex-con, Russian stooge and henchmen of eastern oligarchs. He showed himself to be a confident manager after returning to head the government in 2006. But, he lost that position due to a coalition of Orange politicians, as surely as he lost the presidency to Orange revolutionaries in 2004.

Yanukovych can now with equal force of argument be seen as the comeback kid or a perpetual loser. It depends on how one looks at it, really. Some feel that the ageing strongman from Donetsk doesn’t even need the hassle of public office any more.

After all, with the prompting of numerous American PR gurus, the man has had to change so much – his speech, his hairdo and ultimately his views. More importantly, so has the presidency changed, its authorities watered down from the dictatorial days of Leonid Kuchma just as the victorious Orange team was about to take power.

The Donbass region from where Yanukovych hails from has also changed: Independence has set in, the Ukrainian language is no longer taboo, wealth and globalization have begun to brighten the lives of bleak coalmining towns.

The oligarchs of Donetsk can no longer justly be characterized as anti-Western revanchists bent on bringing Ukraine back into the Russian fold. They borrow money from Western lenders, sell their products abroad and compete with Russian tycoons for market share in Ukraine.

Against such a background, the “old” Yanukovych is a dinosaur. But Ukrainian politics has always been more of a merry-go-round than a tug-a-war: once you climb on board, you can keep riding until you fall off, or the music stops.

Yanukovych continues to ride, out of inertia more than anything else. Why run for president? Because politics is now the only trade that he knows, because eastern Ukraine doesn’t have any other candidate to put forward.

So what does Mr. Yanukovych stand for now in terms of policy? Well if his latest public statements can be taken seriously, Yanukovych wants to strengthen Ukraine’s position in its relations with the IMF.

“I think that both sides – the IMF and the Ukrainian government – are at fault for the disruption and discrediting of the loan program for Ukraine. The Cabinet of Ministers took on obligations that it couldn’t perform. Massive IMF funds were used without transparency, and the authorities haven’t been able to explain where the money was spent.”

Mr. Yanukovych is right about IMF money being misspent – the case of Bank Nadra being the best example of such misspending – however, it wasn’t the government that controlled the National Bank as the global financial crisis struck last year.

What Yanukovych is really saying – in addition to taking a campaign swipe at his primary election opponent Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is that he doesn’t want Ukraine to be pushed around by international lending organizations.

Here in lies the vague basis of some kind of policy: namely, tighter fiscal control but also more rule setting by Ukraine’s industrialists.

As for Ms. Tymoshenko, she’s been on Ukraine’s political stage even longer than Yanukovych. Also a former premier, she rose to fame in the long struggle to dethrone Kuchma. That struggle culminated during the Orange Revolution, after which Yushchenko was crowned Ukraine’s new king.

As queen, Ms. Yulia soon filed for divorce and the three-way struggle for executive power that has characterized Ukrainian politics ever since began.

Unlike Mr. Yanukovych, whose main support base is in the east, and President Yushchenko, whose remnants of a support base are in the west, Tymoshenko feels confident all over the country. She’s currently rated No.2 by polls, which always underestimate her, but her personal determination and campaign skills far outweigh those of her opponents.

She is, indeed, such a force to be reckoned with that some (including Tymoshenko) are suggesting that Yanukovych has promised Yushchenko to be premier in exchange for campaign support.

“If 18 candidates are running for president, it’s clear that none of them has a chance of winning. Instead, they are all running against one candidate. It’s all a campaign strategy that envisions they all work together to get Yanukovych elected in return for appointments after the elections,” she said.

As always, Tymoshenko is positioning herself as the underdog, the defender of the people under attack by the forces of evil. What this translates to in terms of policy is known more commonly as populism. Tymoshenko has Orange (i.e. pro-Western) credentials but is not shy about courting favor with the Kremlin; and her economics are predicated more on political rivalries, but appear to be more transparent than those of her opponents.

In short, Ms. Tymoshenko is a policy in progress, in flux and always in response.

Maybe this is why President Yushchenko has said that a Tymoshenko victory would lead the country to “catastrophe.”

“Tymoshenko is the essence of the crisis, a crisis in everything that she touches,” he said. The president has further blamed his former co-revolutionary for betraying the Orange team and predicted that her political career would soon come to an end.

Although the president’s statements definitely betray a rather skewed interpretation of recent Ukrainian history, suffice it to say that he clearly seems more critical of Tymoshenko than his former arch enemy Yanukovych.

It was the fight against Yanukovych, the oligarchs and the bandits that rallied hundreds of thousands in Kyiv to protest the initial, fraudulent results of the 2004 ballot and hand Yushchenko the presidency. Now, Mr. Yushchenko is attempting to vilify his former ally, Ms. Tymoshenko, before the people. The faces in Ukraine’s never-ending political drama have remained the same – not much of a choice for voters. But the issues have become completely blurred, if they exist at all.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Ukraine Macroeconomic Report From SigmaBleyzer: 

Analysis & Commentary: Dmitry Vydrin, Professor of Political Science, Kyiv
Eurasian Home Website, Moscow, Russia, Fri, December 25, 2009

The presidential election campaign in Ukraine has two main intrigues, if anything extraordinary does not happen in the New Year and Christmas holidays. The first one is a very wide gap between approval ratings of the leaders of the presidential race, Viktor Yanukovych and Yuliya Tymoshenko.

When the campaign started, many people said that in the first round Viktor Yanukovych would take 2-5% votes more than Yuliya Tymoshenko would. But according to the recent public opinion polls, the gap has become twice as wide as it was, and now it is about 10%.

Why did this occur? The main reason is a failure of the Cabinet’s budget policy. Ms Tymoshenko hoped to take foreign credits from, in the main, the International Monetary Fund for a year. The IMF divided the credit up into four tranches.

It has issued three tranches, but all of them, in spite of the original agreements, were used for social spending, in other words, “to bribe the voters”. The IMF turned a blind eye to that, but it did not give the fourth tranche suspecting the government not only of spending the money on the social payments but also of corruption.

Now Yuliya Tymoshenko can indemnify for the budget neither through the domestic incomes nor through the credits. Like in corrida, the moment of truth came, the viewers, the bull and the toreador understand everything. In the case of Yuliya Tymoshenko, the situation is understandable to the political elite, international organizations and Ukraine’s people.

For the first time, there are no Christmas trees in many towns and villages, and the people have too little money to give presents to their children. This did not happen in Ukraine even in hard times. Earlier the government was not ready to fight against the flu, even gauze face-bandages and the cheapest drugs were not sold in the drugstores.

Given the current situation, it is unclear how Yuliya Tymoshenko is going to bridge the gap between herself and Viktor Yanukovych. She has only three weeks (as a matter of fact, only one week because of the holidays) to do that. So, I believe that in the main she will dig up the dirt on her rival even if the dirt is not true at all.

At the beginning of the campaign everybody was sure that Arseniy Yatsenuk would rank third, which would allow him to claim to become Prime Minister. And the second intrigue is that today Serhyi Tigipko ranks third, which I am glad to hear.

Probably I am the only person who said that this presidential candidate was very up-and-coming politician. Then his approval rating was about 2% and has reached 9% by now. Serhyi Tigipko has created a good basis to fill a high position after the elections, or to take part in early parliamentary elections with forming his own faction.

Why did Serhyi Tigipko come to rank third? The Ukrainian people do not trust the authorities. Only 3% of the population trust the Parliament. Many presidential candidates are the MPs including Arseniy Yatsenuk. For the recent five years Serhyi Tigipko has been neither MP nor held any high posts. Unlike the other second echelon candidates he is not associated with the current authorities, who have discredited themselves.

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By Arthur Max, Associated Press (AP), Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine, Mon, Dec 14, 2009

DNIPRODZERZHYNSK, Ukraine - Twenty years ago, when the Iron Curtain came down, the world gagged in horror as it witnessed firsthand the ravages inflicted on nature by the Soviet industrial machine.

Throughout the crumbling communist empire, sewage and chemicals clogged rivers; industrial smog choked cities; radiation seeped through the soil; open pit mines scarred green valleys. It was hard to measure how bad it was and still is: The focus was more on production quotas than environmental data.

Today, Europe has two easts: one that has been largely cleaned up with the help of a massive infusion of Western funds and the prospect of membership in the prosperous European Union, and another that still looks as though the commissars never left.

The contrasting story lines are written in the ripple and flow of two rivers.

Drifting along Ukraine's Dnieper River, past this one-time powerhouse of Soviet rule, requires slicing through clouds of black-and-orange exhaust from a metallurgical plant.

Over a hill, passengers may catch a whiff of a burning garbage dump. Nearby fields are fenced off by barbed wire with signs warning of radioactivity. Farther along, the cruise passes the world's third-largest nuclear power station.

Upstream from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, the Dnieper picks up water from the Pripyat River, with sediment still laced with radioactive caesium-137 from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

To the southwest, in countries that have joined the European Union, another river, the Danube, is bouncing back. Pleasure boats sail past public bathing areas, and people of dozens of nationalities stroll down esplanades alongside a glittering waterway that inspired the music of Johann Strauss. Protected woods and wetlands are being extended along its meandering course.

In 1989, the stretch of Danube that flowed through the communist countries was like the Dnieper - an ecological disaster of epic proportions. Oil slicks glistened in rainbow colors on the water's surface. Long stretches were empty of fish, and stinking algae proliferated along the banks. Worse than the visible pollution was the insidious invasion of microcontaminants that poisoned the ecosystem.

But at the intersection of geography and history lie insights into the rivers' contrasting fates.

Originating in Russia and ending in the Black Sea, the Dnieper flows south through Belarus, cutting southeast across Ukraine, countries that have remained, in varying degrees, almost umbilically tethered over the past 20 years to the might of the Kremlin.

The Danube, on the other hand, traces a triumphant march through the European Union's eastward expansion, starting in traditional EU heavyweight

Germany and flowing through or forming the border of new member states - Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. The river ambles 1,775 miles from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. About 83 million people in 19 countries live in its basin.

Five years after the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989, most of the countries sharing the Danube signed a convention to manage the river, its tributaries, the basin and the ground sources. It was one of the iconic projects in a broader mission among Western powers to make billions of dollars available for a massive cleanup of Eastern Europe.

In five years of peak action from 2000, the Danube countries spent $3.5 billion building wastewater treatment plants in hundreds of towns and villages along the river and its 26 major tributaries. They spent $500 million more restoring wetlands and cleaning industrial spillage and agricultural runoff befouling the water.

Chemicals that feed plant-choking algae and threaten human health have dramatically declined since 1989, although their levels remain far higher than in 1950, before the industrial buildup and growth of riverside cities.

Along with direct Western aid, many poor ex-Soviet-bloc countries had a huge incentive to throw themselves into the region's cleanup: EU membership.

Racing to meet the bloc's environmental standards, they put scrubbers into coal-fired plants, built water-purification stations and capped emissions that had been returning to Earth as acid rain.

It was a monumental task.

One area known as the Black Triangle at the junction of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic was notorious. A concentration of coal mines and heavy industry suffocated the region under industrial ash and gas.
For the Danube, the cleanup was more than just an environmental project. The Danube Convention changed mindsets, breaking down barriers between former enemies, forcing countries and riverside populations to work together across previously hostile borders.

"The Danube is a living river that is bound up with the culture and the peoples who live there," says Philip Weller, the commission's executive secretary. "It is not a wild river, in the sense of salmon jumping or white-water," Mr. Weller said. "It is the lifeblood, the circulation system" that connects the richest part of Europe in Western Germany to the poorest in Ukraine and Moldova.

The river is still not pristine, but "over the past 20 years much has changed for the better," said Andreas Beckmann of the World Wildlife Fund. After 150 years of abuse and the loss of 80 percent of the river's wetlands, "the Danube has significantly recovered."

In contrast, Sergei Rudenko, a teacher at a vocational school in Dniprodzerzhynsk, has been throwing a fishing line into the Dnieper for 50 years. Springing from the mountains of central Russia, the 1,420-mile river was once rich at this spot in eastern Ukraine with perch, carp and bream.
Now its yield is miserly, he says.

Dniprodzerzhynsk, a name that combines the river's name with that of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police, once was so crucial to the Soviet economy that it was closed to outsiders. With 250,000 people, it has 60 factories, some looming over the city in a permanent haze.

On the outskirts of town eight fields are fenced off with barbed wire, hung with yellow triangles warning of radioactivity. Nuclear waste was dumped here many years ago. Uniformed officers patrol the area and stopped two Associated Press journalists to ask why they were there.

Next to a chemical plant is the city dump, where three decades worth of garbage is now a steaming landfill 100 feet deep. "When the wind is from there, I can't breathe," said Gregori Timoshenko, a 72-year-old waste site employee, nodding toward the fresh garbage. He shrugs when asked whether working in such a polluted place affects his health. "I have lived my life, I have nothing to lose."

Not far away, Evgen Kolishevsky of the Voice of Nature, a local environmental group, takes a reporter to the foot of a mountainous slag heap, below which runs the Konoplyanka river that feeds into the Dnieper. "This is the waste from chemical enterprises and of processing and enrichment of uranium," he said. Victor Lyapin, a local health official, acknowledges the damaging effects. "The first mistake of the Soviet Union," he said, "was to put factories and people shoulder to shoulder."

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Transmission by Natalia Churikova
'Transmission' is written by RFE/RL Editors and Correspondents
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Prague, Czech Republic, Tue, Dec 1, 2009

December 1 is the happiest day of my life. On this day I killed the Soviet Union.

I am not a violent person. But on December 1, 1991, I voted in a referendum on the independence of Ukraine, along with more than 90 percent of Ukrainians.

This was the end of the USSR. I am saying this not because my life immediately became better. In fact, for many of my fellow Ukrainians life became worse, or at least more difficult.

Nor am I trying to challenge Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who said that the demise of the Soviet Union was the biggest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. God forbid! He may have his own reasons to feel this way. I just want to share my happiness and explain it.

I never liked the Soviet regime. From early childhood one had to learn to be a liar, a hypocrite, to stop being oneself in order to make a career or even to survive. But it was not the kind of regime one bravely stood up to, as you would to a foreign occupation.

I have this constant argument with my Russian husband, who likes to tell me about his relatives who were dying of hunger in besieged Leningrad during World War II.

I say: true, their suffering was immense. They were holding out against the Nazis, they were treated as heroes -- and rightly so.

But not all people who were dying of hunger in the Soviet Union were treated as heroes.

My grandparents and their extended families, who were dying alongside millions of other Ukrainian peasants in the 1930s during the Holodomor, did not receive such an honor. In times of peace they were sentenced to death by, presumably, their own government for being just that: Ukrainian peasants.

How can I be proud that the Soviet Union liberated Ukraine and half of Europe from the Nazis, if Stalin's regime killed more people in my family than Hitler's?

As most young people, I had a thirst for belief. But the communists destroyed religion. They replaced it with a caricature, Marxism-Leninism, in which even its secular priests, party leaders, failed to believe.

Operating in a country for several generations and using brutal repression as a means of persuasion, they managed to destroy one's moral compass. Soviet people -- and they did manage to turn some of my countrymen into Soviet people -- had a difficulty in telling right from wrong, because what was right for the regime, was often morally wrong.

This contradiction would eat a person from the inside. A monument to the victims of communism in Prague is a vivid representation of this internal destruction. First, a person whole, then there is crack in him, then the corrosion eats him piece by piece. At the end there is almost nothing left.

A plaque to the monument says that it is dedicated not only to those who were killed or jailed by the regime, but also to those whose lives were ruined by communist despotism.

To see what this despotism could do to a society, one needs to look at Ukraine's politics. For many politicians, what is right is what helps one to survive and reap the immediate benefit. Forget about moral principles, national interest, and personal integrity.

The consequences of this systematic moral distraction are all too visible in Ukraine, and I am afraid, they will be for many years to come. But the system that caused it and supported it with some of the most inhumane methods in history, died on December 1, 1991.

It is up to an individual now to recollect that he or she is God's creature with free will, who can act in a moral way because it is right. Isn't that a good foundation for happiness?

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Kiev Journal, by Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times, NY, NY, 23 December 2009

KIEV, Ukraine -- Tatyana Shvets strode through the Kiev Zoo recently as if it were her own backyard, feeding scraps of bread to the bison (''Hello, my dears!''), cooing to the storks (''Oh, you must be cold!'') and lavishing love upon every creature in sight, as she has since she first visited as a child half a century ago. But often enough, her glee turned to dismay.

The camels' corral was a mess, she insisted. The elephant was scrawny. The hippopotamus seemed depressed. And the monkeys' cramped  accommodations? ''God, what a nightmare,'' she said.  Ms. Shvets chased after and berated zoo workers, making mental notes about complaints that she would send to the zoo's management. There was a lot to write up.

The Kiev Zoo, it seems, has seen better days. Ukraine's government is in disarray and the political discord has been unrelenting -- and, yes, now even the lions and tigers and bears have been drawn in.

The zoo was expelled from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria in 2007 over poor conditions and mistreatment of animals. Advocates and former workers maintained that a giraffe and other animals died from the zoo's ineptitude, and that money was siphoned from the zoo's budget through corrupt schemes.

The zoo's director was dismissed last year by Kiev's eccentric mayor, Leonid M. Chernovetsky, after failing to find a mate for an elephant -- or so Mr. Chernovetsky said. The new director has stirred an uproar among the staff for her supposedly tyrannical ways, and in October, a brawl erupted among workers during a celebration of the zoo's centennial.

Lately, animal rights advocates, including Ms. Shvets, have contended that the zoo's distress has been orchestrated by top city officials who want to sell the zoo's choice urban real estate to developers and move the animals to the suburbs. The advocates call the strategy, ''No animal, no problem,'' a play on Stalin's infamous saying, ''No person, no problem.''

''This is being done so there are less and less animals, and they can make money from the land,'' said Ms. Shvets, 60, a retired government worker. ''The authorities in Kiev these days, all they care about is money.''

The troubles are not always immediately obvious. During a walk around the zoo on a Saturday morning, the place seemed more shabby than squalid, as if it once aspired to great-zoo status but had fallen on hard times for lack of money and attention.

Still, advocates said the worst conditions were obscured behind closed doors, and they have circulated photographs that they said revealed how the animals were treated out of sight.

Many of the primates and bears are held in claustrophobic quarters because the public enclosures are run-down, they said. Construction was begun on a primate pavilion at great cost, then abandoned last year. Workers tell visitors that most monkeys are ''under quarantine.''

''I really cried when I went inside and saw the conditions for the monkeys,'' said Tamara Tarnawska, leader of SOS-Animals Kiev. ''It was absolutely horrible. I felt ashamed to be human.'' She said the animals were crammed together in cages that were poorly lighted and dirty.

The zoo's management disputed many of the criticisms, saying that they were voiced by disgruntled former workers or outsiders with no expertise. The zoo's director, Svetlana Berzina, did acknowledge that the zoo was in bad shape when she took over last year. She said the previous management was incompetent and had begun projects that were expensive, unnecessary and never finished, like the primate pavilion.

Ms. Berzina said she was replacing workers, spearheading renovations, bringing in consultants and establishing a code of ethics. ''We are consistently dealing with all these issues,'' she said. ''But I think that you can understand that problems that accumulated over decades cannot be resolved in a single year.''

''A significant number of workers at the zoo clearly were not doing their jobs, and many were simply drinking heavily on the job,'' she added. Ms. Berzina denied that there were plans to sell the zoo's land, and she called publicity over the fight at the zoo's celebration in October overblown, saying that it was provoked by former workers.

City officials said they hoped to improve the zoo enough to have it reinstated to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, but the association said the zoo would have to wait at least until 2012.

While conflicts over the zoo have been widely publicized, some visitors said they did not see what all the fuss was about. ''Compared to other zoos I've been to, the animals live pretty well here,'' said Aleksei Nazarenko, 22. ''There are all these zoos that travel from city to city in Ukraine, and the animals live pretty poorly there. Here, they seem O.K.''

But Yelena Ryabova, 55, said she was worried that the zoo would be relocated. ''They want to put it 40 kilometers away,'' she said, referring to the persistent rumors. (Forty kilometers is about 25 miles.) ''That is a long way to go.''

When Ms. Shvets overheard people saying that the animals seemed fine, she shook her head. She said that in her many years of coming to the zoo, things had never been so unsettling. During Soviet times, the zoo's facilities might have been relatively spare, but the care was far better, she said.

Now, she noted, signs were out of date, animals were mysteriously missing and the zoo was pocked with deserted renovation sites. And then she stalked off to do some more snooping.

''Where is the hippopotamus?'' she demanded of a worker, standing at the edge of an empty outdoor enclosure. ''When the mayor gives us money for repairs, you can see the hippopotamus,'' the worker grumbled. Ms. Shvets located the forlorn animal in a small pen elsewhere. ''Good morning, my darling!'' she said.
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Reuters, Funchal Portugal, Fri, December 11, 2009

FUNCHAL, Portugal - Ukrainian cities Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv will host matches in the 2012 European soccer championship, UEFA said on Friday, with the capital confirmed as the venue for the final.

European football's governing body had delayed the decision over hosting matches in all the proposed Ukrainian cities except Kiev after the slow progress of infrastructure projects.

"I'm pleased to tell that thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Ukrainian government we can finally give the green light to a symmetrical tournament with four cities in Poland, and Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk in Ukraine," UEFA president Michel Platini told a news conference.

"There remain considerable work to be done and considerable hoops to jump through. I entirely trust Ukraine and Poland as hosts," he added.The tournament is being co-hosted with Poland, where four cities -- Poznan, Wroclaw, Warsaw and Gdansk -- had already been confirmed by UEFA as able to
host matches.

"Today Ukraine won, the people of Ukraine won," Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told local television.

UEFA has been frustrated by the slow progress of work in Ukraine and in May gave the four cities six months to show significant improvement, with Platini decrying 'huge' problems with airport infrastructure, transport networks and suitable accommodation for a huge influx of fans.

"Mr. Platini, the great player and president, has given us a new opportunity, an opportunity to show what we are made of," Ukrainian FA president Grigoriy Surkis told the news conference.

"We are going to make sure that Euro 2012 will be at least as successful as the previous two tournaments. Now isn't a time to rest on our laurels. "We've suffered a great deal in the runup to this decision, a lot of difficulties have been experienced but...the red light has been averted because those warnings were heeded," he added.

"We're going to modernise our infrastructure, build what remains to be built, prepare for a wonderful spectacle. We're going to leave no stone unturned to maintain the prestige of UEFA.

"It would have been so terrible to let this tremendous opportunity slip through our fingers. This enables us to ensure a promising future for our country. It's not a Christmas present for me, it's a Christmas present for all Ukrainians."

Surkis said he had missed his father's 90th birthday to attend the meeting on the island of Madeira. "Elderly people understand the importance of these
transformations. He was present when World War Two was won. My father has had a very difficult life; this is a heart-warming decision for him."
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Help an elderly Ukrainian in Kyiv have clothing, food, medicine this year.

Katie Fox, President, American Friends of "For Survival", Wash, D.C., Mon, Jan 4, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. - 2010 has arrived and I am writing to ask you to sponsor an elderly Ukrainian in Kyiv this year through a donation to "For Survival." As many of you know, I have assisted in running a small charity for several years that helps poor elderly Ukrainians in Kyiv buy food, medicine and other necessities.

The "For Survival" charity is entirely volunteer run and has no overhead costs - every cent you donate goes directly to an elderly recipient.  We are a small organization with a lot of hands-on oversight, another guarantee that your donation will be well spent.

A donation of $240 or $20 per month will help one Ukrainian pensioner in Kyiv cover basic needs, - warm clothing, food, medicine, and hospital bills, throughout 2010.  Your donation is full tax deductible and is especially important this year. 

The global economic crisis has hit Ukraine with particular force. Prices on staples, including food, are soaring.  At the same time, with charities forced to cut back, the competition for donor dollars is fierce.

Our group, "For Survival," was founded by a group of Ukrainian elderly women with two goals in mind: to improve the lives of poor elderly and to help active elderly to give back to society.  This year, in addition to distributing aid for generous supporters like you, the group sought and got a grant from the Lions' Club in Kyiv.

It has provided basic medical equipment, such as walkers, hearing aids and eyeglasses to Ukrainian elderly unable to afford them.  As part of "giving back," "For Survival" members also visit orphanages as 'surrogate grandparents." They also used Lions' Club support to buy books, CDs and DVDs to use during visit to children in these institutions.

For more information please feel free to contact me at or by cell phone 240-423-8845. Or, visit our web site at

Please consider a donation today!  Your money will be well spent and deeply, deeply appreciated. To give safely on-line visit us at Or, checks may be made out to "For Survival" and sent to me [Katie Fox] at 5333 42nd St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20015.  American Friends of "For Survival" is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.

Thank you very, very much.

Katie Fox, President
American Friends of "For Survival."
Washington, D.C.
Go to:

AUR: The American Friends of "For Survival", a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., is well-known to many readers of the Action Ukraine Report (AUR). AUR readers have worked with and donated to American Friends of "For Survival" for several years.  Katie Fox is doing an outstanding job as president of American Friends of "For Survival." Your support will be most appreciated. Go to website:
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