Monday, November 30, 2009

Sour Gapes. Candidate's cry wolf

Various statements by marginal presidential candidates about the likely electoral fraud are aimed to create a background for their post-election information campaigns and lawsuits, the leader of the Yedyny Tsentr Viktor Baloha said Nov. 24. Source 

Alarming declarations about the likely vote rigging directly point to organizational weaknesses of some candidates as the law allows for reliable barriers against any electoral fraud. For instance, any presidential candidate can send his 2 representatives to sit on local and regional electoral commissions, appoint observers to keep an eye on voting and counting of ballots. Proxies of candidates who have wide authority can also supervise the course of the voting.

“These representative must have absolute trust of their patron. Everything depends on the correct choice of a candidate and professional level of his team,” Baloha summed up.

Other effective barriers to electoral fraud are the Central Election Commission [whose members are appointed by major parliamentary parties on a quota principle] and numerous international observers. Mass media and NGOs, notably, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, will also be effective in helping to curb fraud.

Of great importance for establishing the final tally are also exit polls run by respected polling companies.

“There are more than enough supervisory tools, as you see, and they will all be used during the campaign. All the more so that there are 18 presidential candidates, some having considerable weight. That is why any declarations about the likely fraud are just attempts to justify a defeat of those who make them. Note that those candidates who are selling themselves as strong-willed and tough are most given to such declarations. In fact, such declarations expose them as would-be losers and outsiders,” Baloha added. 


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yushchenko to abandon ship having sailed Arc Orange on to the rocks

Ukraine's embattled and disgraced President, Viktor Yushchenko, having caused the collapse of the orange revolution, and betrayed all those who supported his election, has stated for the first time that he will bow out of politics following the next presidential election.

Yushchenko's support rating is less then 4 percent and he is set to lose office in the first round of the election.

Many commentators believe he should have bowed out long ago and should not have re-nominated. By standing for a second term he is denying opportunity for those who support his candidacy to transfer their support to another candidate.  Those who will vote for Yushchenko in January will be throwing their vote away, they would be better off staying at home and not voting at all or voting "against all".

In 2005 Yushchenko enjoyed the support of 52% of Ukraine and was even nominated for a Nobel prize.  His fall from grace could not be more dramatic. Where once he was the toast of the "free world" today the US President, Barack Obama, would not even meet with him during his visit to the United States.  The president of Russia has singled him out as the main cause for division and dissension in the region and the deteriorating relations between Russia and Ukraine. Four members of his own political party are running against him.

In losing the election Yushchenko will not only bring himself into disrepute but also the office of President.

History will record him as a failed president who betrayed Ukraine and democracy itself.  His term of office has been a complete disaster. What positives that may have existed have been overshadowed by his betrayal and deceit. Instead of supporting democracy Yushchenko sought to destroy it.  He betrayed his oath and all those around him by denying Ukraine the right to democratic governance.


Poll: Yanukovych set to win in second round

50 days to go and Yanukovych is set to win the second round of voting with over 50% of the vote

According to the lastest Research and Branding electoral poll also published on KyivPost

Under Ukraine's flawed first-past-the-post voting system only the two highest polling candidates progress to the second round of voting. Yushchenko still remains the biggest loser stuck on 3.5% Lytvyn is holding ground doubling his last months rating. Yatseniuk is dropping by the week but still remains in third place ten percentage points below Tymoshenko.

On a  two candidate preferred basis Yanukovych is on 47.4% to Tymoshenko 28.1%   - adjusted for the expected turn out (87%) Yanukovych wins over 50% of the vote

V. Yanukovich
Y. Timoshenko
A. Yatsenyuk
V. Litvin
S. Tigipko
P. Simonenko
V. Yuschenko

At a cost of over 1 billion dollars Ukraine would have been much better off if the parliament had elected the next head of state.  Another failure of Yushchenko.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Carrousel of clowns: Fresh Parliamentary elections to follow Presidential contest

In what has been a full on news day for Ukraine it has become obvious that Ukraine will face another fresh round of Parliamentary elections in the new year.

Party of Regions, Viktor Yanukovych has indicated that they aim to secure both the presidency and the prime-ministership once the Presidential election is over. Effort will be made to form a new coalition to appoint a new government. If that fails the newly elected president will seek ways to dismiss the parliament and hold fresh elections.

Any possibility of meaningful long term constitutional reform will fall by the wayside as Ukraine becomes a one party state.

This is what’s at risk the most. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yanukovych may soon forsake the ideal of Ukraine adopting a European Parliamentary system in favor of short-term power and control.

Yulia Tymoshenko has conceded as much. Parliamentary elections should not allowed to proceed without first addressing the fundamental issue of constitutional reform and the completion of Ukraine's transition to a full European parliamentary model of governance.

As long as Ukraine remains subservient to the whim and will of the president wit will continue to falter as politicians sercombe to temptation and power. This all makes the current Presidential election look more and more like a revolving carrousel of clowns.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yushchenko outlines his threats to democratic reform in his bid for a second term

Ukraine's embattled President Viktor Yushchenko, has launched his bid for a second term of office promising a host of things he cannot deliver, He claims he will secure Ukraine the right to visa free travel within Europe and will dismiss Ukraine's parliament if they do not conform to his demands and adopt his proposed new constitution which would see the President invested in absolute power and control.

His platform for a second term was presented to a less then packed audience of members of his staff and the remnants of his party Our Ukraine who have remained loyal and supportive of the president.

Yushchenko's statements and reports in the media have demonstrated why he should not and will not be re-elected to a second term.

Yushchenko's demands that the parliament must adopt his proposed constitutional reforms or face dismissal shows a complete lack of understanding of Ukraine's laws and democratic values. Yushchenko attempts to force a referendum to impose constitutional change would be rejected by the courts as it is breach of constitutional order. This is not the first time Yushchenko has acted to usurp power unconstitutionally by seeking to impose his will over Ukraine's democratically elected parliamentary representatives. Ukraine's constitution cannot be amended by a simple majority voting at a referendum. It can only be amended with the support of two thirds of Ukraine's parliament. Any proposal to try and force constitutional reform will be rejected by the Courts and the international community throwing Ukraine back into ongoing civil conflict

Yushchenko's rhetoric is just that. Even if his attempts to turn the clock back and reinstate a presidential autocracy were presented to a referendum without wide support it would fail. His proposed reforms are undemocratic and unrepresentative. Under Yushchenko's model the President would hold absolute control and power over all arms of government including the executive, the judiciary and the parliament. Ukraine would no longer be a democratic state with proper checks and balances but subject to arbitrary will of the president.

The fact is Yushchenko cannot and will not be able to deliver any of his "promises". He has had five years in office and has failed to deliver stability or democracy. His actions have undermined Ukraine's interests and in the process set back democratic reform and development in Ukraine by 10 to 15 years. The key to European integration is political stability. Yushchenko's policies provides neither. With less than 4% support and with 83% of Ukrainians indicating that they will not vote for him Yushchenko will not be re-elected to a second term of office.


Monday, November 23, 2009

54 Days and counting

With less then eight weeks left before the next presidential election little has changed in terms of expected results.

Ukraine's embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, will launch his bid for a second term today, a bid that will surely fail.  Whilst the first set of official opinion polls are yet to be published there is little change expected in the overall outcome.

The two highest polling candidates remain Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko.  Yasteniuk comes in a distant third - 10 percentage pointed behind Yulia Tymoshenko with the rest of the flotilla lagging even further behind. With little prospect of any significant change occurring in the next 8 weeks.

Yushchenko's party Our Ukraine is floating four candidates in this election with each candidate competing against each other dividing their share of the overall vote.

With Yushchenko expected to lose outright in the first round his Party Our Ukraine will soon after dissolve and split into two with one section seeking sanction and support from Yulia Tymochenko and the remnants hoping to be taken under Yanukovych's wing.  This in itself will cause some concern as to the constitutionality of a parliamentary faction that is no longer a united. Withy the demise of Our Ukraine will come the consolidation of the two main factions.  A number of commentators expect that Our Ukraine supporters will transfer there support to Yulia Tymosehnko and give cause for a possible close finish in the final round.

The odds are still in Yanukovychs favor. But his support rating does not appear to be rising as fast as one would expect.

The period between now and December 21st will be crucial.  Candidates have until December 21 to decide if they will see the election out. If they pull out before then they have a chance of getting their deposit back, if not 16 will sure enough lose 2.5 Million hrivinias.

In a rather cynical and blatant statement Sergei Tigipko has suggested that he might trade his support for a spot on the parliamentary front bench and he has pitched to both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko his bid to become Prime Minister.  I guess it is similar to the US primaries where the various players seek to secure a favorable position in turn for delivering what could be a decisive and significant number of voters.

One commentator has suggested he might receive up to seven percent of the vote.  This assessment is a bit high and the seven percent would have to come from somewhere.  One  poll had him level pegging Yushchenko on around 3.5%. Certainly not in a winning position. Tigipko's support is unlikely to increase much beyond that level. 

Those supporters who are disappointed at Yushchenko's standing in the polls have suggested that Ukraine might vote for the stooge candidate  Vasyl Protyvsikh.  This is laughable as a vote for Portyvish will only entrench the positions held by Tymoshenko and Yanukovych. A vote for Protyvish would be a wasted vote, they would be better off not voting at all.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Living and dying in America: MoTown on the decline

Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

by Tim Reid in Detroit 
The abandoned corpses, in white body bags with number tags tied to each toe, lie one above the other on steel racks inside a giant freezer in Detroit’s central mortuary, like discarded shoes in the back of a wardrobe.
Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number of unclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that once symbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury their dead.
“I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,” said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary. “It started happening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen this many people struggling to give people their last resting place.”
Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70 earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignity to be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boasted the highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today in the midst of a long and agonising death spiral.

The murder rate is soaring. The school system is in receivership. The city treasury is $300 million (£182m) short of the funds needed to provide the most basic services such as rubbish collection. In its postwar heyday, when Detroit helped the US to dominate the world’s car market, it had 1.85 million people. Today, just over 900,000 remain. It was once America’s fourth-largest city. Today, it ranks eleventh, and will continue to fall.

Thousands of houses are abandoned, roofs ripped off, windows smashed. Block after block of shopping districts lie boarded up. Former manufacturing plants, such as the giant Fisher body plant that made Buicks and Cadillacs, but which was abandoned in 1991, are rotting.

Even Detroit’s NFL football team, the Lions, are one of the worst in the country. Last season they lost all 16 games. This year they have lost eight, and won just a single gane.

Michigan’s Central Station, designed by the same people who gave New York its Grand Central Station, was abandoned 20 years ago. One photographer who produced a series of images for Time magazine said that he often felt, as he moved around parts of Detroit, as though he was in a post-apocalyptic disaster.
Then in June, the $21,000 annual county budget to bury Detroit’s unclaimed bodies ran out. Until then, if a family confirmed that they could not afford to lay a loved one to rest, Wayne County — in which Detroit sits — would, for $700, bury the body in a rough pine casket at a nearby cemetery, under a marker.

Darrell Vickers had to identify his aunt at the mortuary in September but he could not afford to bury her as he was unemployed. When his grandmother recently died, Mr Vickers’s father paid for her cremation, but with a credit card at 21 per cent interest. He said at the time it was “devastating” to not be able to bury his aunt.
What has alarmed medical examiners at the mortuary is that most of the dead died of natural causes. It is evidence, they believe, of people who could not afford medical insurance and medicines and whose families can now not afford to bury them.

Yet in recent weeks there have been signs of hope for Mr Samuels that he can reduce the backlog of bodies. Local philanthropists have donated $8,000 to help to bury the dead. In the past month, Mr Samuels has been able to bury 11 people. The number of unburied is now down to 55.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

There is no contest. Ukraine is just throwing money away.

Eighteen candidates have been registered for Ukraine's next Presidential election scheduled for January 17, 2010.

 Sixteen out of the eighteen candidates will lose in the first ballot.

Whilst the election fuels the pages of the news and this blog the fact is there is no real contest.  

Baring a miracle, an act of god or assignation (god forbid) or unexpected withdrawal of candidates the final presidential race will be between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko.

Under Ukraine's two round first past the post presidential voting system the only real contest in the first round of voting is between second and third place.

According to all the opinion polls the third placed candidate, Arseniy Yatseniuk, who is on 7.5%, is more then 10% behind the second place candidate Yulia Tymoshenko with 18% support.

Given this is the case then the question must be asked, "Why go to the expense of holding a second round when the same result can be achieved in one single round of voting?"

Ukraine should adopt a single round preferential voting system and ask voters to rank candidates in order of preference so that when the votes are counted they can decide who is elected in one round of voting and at half the cost required to hold two rounds.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A case for pure democracy: Single transferable voting

Christy Clark: (Canada) "Vote for STV" 

Christy's arguments in support of STV Proportional representation applies equally to Ukraine and all nations.

The current first-past-the-post system serves the interest of the entrenched political parties.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Yushchenko's last gasp: a threat to public health

On November 11 in the lead-up to the 2010 election Viktor Yushchenko, a caretaker president, has vetoed Ukraine's proposed tax on cigarettes.

Yushchenko may have traded the health of Ukraine for a few cheap votes. Serious concern has been raised that Yushchenko has been paid off by the Tobacco lobby and may have been offered in return substantial financial support for his re-election campaign. It is estimated that one in three adults smoke in Ukraine.

Tobacco related products are the greatest cause of death and poor public health. It kills more people then the flu.  Governments world wide have acted to try and prevent the sale of tobacco and taxation is the best weapon against its spread.

Yushchenko in justifying his veto of the proposed taxation of tobacco products has falsely claimed that if the cost of cigarettes are increased Ukraine would be the target of illegal smuggling. This is far from the truth.

Ukraine is one of cheapest suppliers of tobacco products in Europe with millions of cigarettes being smuggled into Europe from Ukraine each year. Even with the modest increase in taxation Ukraine would still remain a source of cheap cigarettes. In Europe a pack of cigarettes costs 10 Euro In Ukraine less then one.

In vetoing the proposed tax Yushchenko has starved hospitals and governments of revenue whilst increasing the number of patients.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Vasyl Protyvsikh

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Born in Oleshkiv village in Ivano-Frankivsk, 63-year-old pensioner Protyvsikh (until Oct. 2 Humeniuk) completed a law degree at Lviv Ivan Franko University after serving in the Soviet army. He was the mayor of Yaremche before being ousted in 1991 and later headed the customs service in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Currently, he is the president of the Ivano-Frankivsk Chamber of Trade and Industry.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Petro Symonenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Symonenko, 58, joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1978, working his way up the leadership ladder as an apparatchik during the 1980s in Donetsk Oblast. He has headed Ukraine’s Communist party since 1993. He lost a second round presidential contest to Leonid Kuchma in 1999, getting 22 percent support. His party’s popularity has consistently waned during the past decade.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Oleksandr Pabat

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Hailing from Poltava Oblast, 35-year-old Pabat earned a dentistry degree in 1996 from Kyiv’s Bohomolets State Medical University. He later studied economics and law at Kyiv National Shevchenko University in Kyiv. From 2000-2005, Pabat served as deputy chairman of Kyiv’s Svyatoshinskiy district, founding an ecology-based organization and several youth clubs. In 2005, Pabat founded Citizens Activist Kyiv, a non-governmental civic activist organization. He co-founded the People’s Salvation Army in 2009. Pabat has served as a Kyiv city councilmember since 2002, and has in recent years been allied with the city’s controversial mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Sergiy Tigipko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Tigipko, 50, is a career banker and politician. In the early 1990s, the Moldovan native established Privatbank, one of the country’s largest banks. He exited the bank in the late 1990s upon launching his political career, first serving as economy minister (1997-1999), then as lawmaker and central bank chief. He chaired the election campaign in 2004 for presidential candidate Victor Yanukovych. After a humiliating defeat, Tigipko stepped out of Ukrainian politics to build up a bank which he sold to Swedbank group for nearly $1 billion. This year, he announced his return to Ukrainian politics.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Victor Yushchenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Propelled to Ukraine’s presidency by the Orange Revolution, Victor Yushchenko, 55, headed the central bank through much of the 1990s. He is Ukraine's third president and has staked out firmly pro-Western stances. He served as prime minister in 1999-2001. After being ousted, he formed his Our Ukraine political grouping, which mustered strong support in a 2002 parliament election. As prime minister in 1999-2001, his Cabinet was touted as Ukraine’s first reform-minded government. But his presidency has been marred by relentless bickering with opponents and Russia which have sidelined reforms. He lead his Our Ukraine political grouping in parliament and also served as prime minister under ex-President Leonid Kuchma. The Sumy Oblast native has been married twice. He has five children and two grandchildren.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Oleh Tiahnybok

Kyiv Post profile of performers

The right wing native of Lviv Oblast, Tiahnybok, 42, was expelled from the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine faction in 2004 “for anti-Semitic and xenophobic statements.” Since February 2004, Tiahnybok has headed the Freedom (Svoboda) party. He was a member of Ukraine’s Social-Nationalist Party, and from 1994-98 served as a member of the Lviv Regional Council.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Victor Yanukovych

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Born into the family of a metalworker and a nurse in the Donetsk Oblast city of Yenakiyevo, Yanukovych, 59, had a troubled past.He was twice jailed for violent crimes in his youth but his official biography states that his convictions were later expunged. Yanukovych began his career as a transport executive in the Soviet Union’s key coal-mining industry in eastern Ukraine. He says he received his doctorate of economics - the equivalent of a Ph.D. - in 2000. He became governor of the Donetsk region, home to more than three million people and an economic powerhouse of Ukraine, less than a year after entering the local administration. Kuchma appointed him prime minister in late 2002. Yanukovych served as prime minister again in 2006-2007. Yanukovych and his Regions party have consistently been backed by big business tycoons from the Donbass region, including Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Oleh Riabokon

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Riabokon, 36, is a native of Vinnytsya. He received a law degree (with honors) from Kyiv National Shevchenko University in 1995 and received a masters of law from Georgetown University Law Center in 1996. He also studied Practice of Trade Policy in 2008 at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He founded Magisters law firm in 1997 and was an adviser to various Ukrainian ministries in 1994-2003. Riabokon quit his law firm in September 2009 to launch his political career.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Arseniy Yatseniuk

Kyiv Post profile of performers

At age 35, Yatseniuk boasts more experience than many of Ukraine’s presidential candidates. Along with partners, Yatseniuk launched his Yurek Ltd. legal services firm before even completing his law degree from Chernivtsi University. In the late 1990, he moved to Kyiv to work in banking. Following a stint as economy minister of Crimea, Yatseniuk in 2003 was appointed first deputy chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine. After leaving the central bank, Yatseniuk served as deputy governor of Odesa Oblast until September 2005. He next served as economy minister under former prime minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, deputy head of the presidential office in 2006 and foreign minister in 2007. He briefly served as parliament speaker after snap elections in September 2007.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Lyudmyla Suprun

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Suprun was elected to parliament on the People’s Democratic Party ticket in 1998 and on the Labor Party of Ukraine ticket in 2002. The Zaporizhya native studied law at Kyiv National Shevchenko University and the Koretsky State Law Institute before joining Interagro, a company she headed from 1993 to 1997, when she was recognized as “Businesswoman of Ukraine.” Suprun headed the Rada’s Budget Committee in 2005 and was recognized as “Honored Economist of Ukraine” in 2006.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Volodymyr Lytvyn

Kyiv Post profile of performers

In December 2008, Lytvyn, 58, regained the Verkhovna Rada speaker job after his Lytvyn Bloc joined the governing coalition lead by Yulia Tymoshenko. His previous stint as parliament speaker was in 2002-2006. Prior to that, he served as chief of staff to then President Leonid Kuchma. The Zhytomyr Oblast native graduated in 1978 from Kyiv National Shevchenko University’s History Department.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Serhiy Ratushnyak

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Ratyushnyak, 48, is mayor of Uzhhorod, the capital of Zakarpattya Oblast, where he first was elected in 1994. He was re-elected in 1998 and 2006. The Uzhhorod native made headlines in August when he was accused of roughing up a volunteer for presidential candidate Arseniy Yatseniuk, whom the mayor later called “a nasty Jew mason.” Ratushnyak was charged in 2000 with embezzlement, but released after the charges were dropped. The 48-year-old entered politics in 1994 after creating RIO, a syndicate of enterprises engaged in beverage sales, the production of cured meats and taxi service.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Oleksandr Moroz

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Moroz, 65, is the long-time leader and founder of Ukraine’s Socialist Party. He served as Verkhovna Rada speaker twice, first from 1994-1998, then again in 2006-2007 when his party formed a governing coalition led by Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko. After making this unpopular alliance, his Socialist Party failed in a 2007 snap election to muster enough support to gain representation in parliament. The Kyiv Oblast native has been involved in bringing to light Ukraine’s most notable scandals, including the disappearance of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000 and the release of recordings made in former President Leonid Kuchma’s office between 1999 and 2000.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Anatoliy Hrytsenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Hrytsenko, 53, a 20-year military veteran from Cherkasy Oblast, was elected to parliament in 2007 on the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense bloc ticket backing current President Victor Yushchenko. He is currently an independent, but chairs the Rada’s National Security and Defense Committee and served as defense minister from 2005-2007. From 1999-2005, he ran the Razumkov think tank based in Kyiv. He is married to one of Ukraine’s most influential women, Yulia Mostova, deputy editor of Zerkalo Nedeli weekly newspaper.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Mykhailo Brodskiy

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Brodskiy, 49, is a businessman turned politician. He was a self-nominated candidate in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election from the Yabloko Party, which he co-founded and headed from 2003-2005. The Kyiv native ran the Kyivskie Vedomosti publishing house in 1998, but lost control of it after being jailed on corruption charges. The publicity over the case helped him get elected to parliament that year. Brodskiy allied himself with Yulia Tymoshenko before and during the Orange Revolution, but broke with the prime minister before snap parliamentary elections in September 2007.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Yuriy Kostenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Kostenko, 58, has been a member of the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine grouping in parliament since 2002. He was one of the founding members of the Ukrainian Rukh party in 1989 and has remained a leader of two Rukh parties that splintered out of the original grouping. From 1992 to 1998, he served as minister in charge of environmental issues. In 1999, he ran in the presidential election, receiving 2 percent of the vote in the first round. Kostenko holds a Ph.D. from the Zaporizhya Institute of Engineering.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Yulia Tymoshenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Yulia Tymoshenko, 49, is a former natural gas trading tycoon turned politician in the late 1990s. The Dnipropetrovsk native served in Yushchenko’s reform-minded government in 1999-2000, and played a big role in backing his presidential candidacy in the hotly contested 2004 election, which he won thanks to the Orange Revolution. She served briefly as prime minister in 2005 until being ousted in connection with a falling out with Yushchenko. She regained the premier's job in 2007 after a strong showing in snap parliamentary elections.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Inna Bohoslovska

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Bohoslovska, 49, recently quit the Party of Regions party and faction in parliament. A lawyer and auditor from Kharkiv, she was first elected to parliament in 1998. Throughout her political career, she has changed political camps numerous times but has consistently worked closely with billionaire Victor Pinchuk, son-in-law to ex-president Leonid Kuchma. In 2005, she led protests against Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's plans to cancel Pinchuk’s acquisition of Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant. Bohoslovska’s campaign centers mostly on criticizing Tymoshenko.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poll: Yatseniuk continues to slip down as competition heats up

A recent phone poll by the Ukrainian Project System (published by Kyiv Post) shows little change in the expected outcome of the January 17 Presidential election.

Most notably is that Arsenyi Yatseniuk (Y-Font) decline in support (7.8%) has continued as more and more candidates present themselves as an alternative to the two most supported candidates Viktor Yanukovych (21.4%) and Yulia Tymoshenko (18.1%).   Viktor Yushchenko is boxed in at around 3.2% and set to be the biggest loser.

Yanukovych appears to have taken a backward swing with Lytvyn (6.8%) doubling his support.

* Phone poll undertaken on 4 November 1,200 participants


Vitrenko out of the race

Nataliya Vintrenko, serial "Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine" candidate, has been excluded from the Presidential race for failing to pay the 2.5 million deposit. Oblivious to the law or the ruling of Ukraine's Constitutional Court she offered to pay the Central Election Commission only 1,964 hryvina.

Vitrenko was quick to claim that the refusal of the CEC to register her was a violation of her constitutional rights.

The Constitutional Court of Ukraine had ruled previously that the deposit requirement was constitutional.  The deposit was designed to limit frivolous nominations from candidates that had no real chance of success, it was put in place as an alternative provision to collecting 1.5 million signatures and the need for the CEC to verify the signatory list

Vitrenko in the past has struggled to receive support. In 2006 she missed out on a seat in Parliament having only received 2.9% of the vote, falling 0.1% short of the 3% threshold. In 2007 the "Progressive Socialist Party", headed by Vitrenko, received only 1.3% support.

Vitrenko would have known of the 2,5 million deposit requirement and the ruling of the Constitutional Court, if not she should have known.

Had she been registered, like Yushchenko and other candidates, she would have lost the election and forfeited her deposit in the first round.

Her actions were clearly designed to fail and provide her another opportunity of cause to complain about everything and anything.

The CEC decision to exclude her was a correct one, based on the law and Ukraine's Constitution. Viktenko would have been offered a chance to make the payment in order to validate her nomination.

With Vitrenko out of the race support for Oleanandr Moroz and Petro Symonenko will increase but not sufficiently enough to make any difference both will also lose their deposit in the first round of voting


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rejected: 15 Presidential hopefuls denied right to national performance

In an election that is beginning to look more and more like a parade of clowns

15 would be hopefuls seeking to strut the national stage have been rejected for the January 17 audition ballot.

The list includes: Oleksandr Hordiichuk, Olena Osnach, Oleksandr Luzan, Hanna Kostiv, Oleksandr Vaschenko, Oleksandr Ohorodnikov, Vasyl Handula, Yurii Petlevana, Petro Rekalo, Anatolii Polischuk, Mykhailo Hamaniuk, Oleksandr Vretyk, Artem Polezhaka, Oleh Omelchenko, and Serhii Martyian

The reasons stated for their rejection range from non-entitlement (too young), poor documentation or failure to pay the 2.5 million hryvina deposit. No mention of the quality of their act.

The nomination list is looking funnier by the day. One would be star has adopted a stage name of Vasily Protyvsih which in Ukrainian means "against-all". Exactly who is paying his bills and audition fees is yet to be determined.

Only the two highest polling clowns who progress to the second round performance, following the January 17 ballot, will have their audition deposit refunded.

Overall the Ukraine is expected to gain a win fall of over 40 million hryvina in lost deposits.

Candidates have until December 21 to pull out of the competition (and hopefully get their deposit refunded).


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ukraine Votes:Virtual election results on line

With less then 70 days to go until the 2010 Presidential election we have updated our "On-line Election Map" (2004 to 2010)


Yushchenko proposes to change the rules in his favor

With the election already in flight Ukraine's beleaguered president, Viktor Yushchenko, has proposed to change the Presidential election law to refund the 2.5 million hryina deposit which is currently only going to be refunded to the two highest polling candidates.

Yushchenko, who  is currently on 3.5% support, wants a second slice of the pie, he wants the threshold for deposit refunds reduced back down to 7%.

Yushchenko first tried to veto the law and when that failed he then applied to the Constitutional Court who refused to remove the 2.5 million deposit conditions. The other problem is the election is already in full swing and changing the rules of the game in the midst of play might leave Ukraine open to allegations of corruption, favoritism - legislation designed to meet the requirements of those in power.  How many people have decided not to nominate because they do not  have a chance of winning the first round of voting?

If Yushchenko is of the belief that he can not win the election then he should not have nominated.

By running Yushchenko, under Ukraine's 's  two round "first-past-the-post" voting system, will take votes away from other more serious candidates.  The high nomination deposit was designed to try and limit frivolous candidates from standing in order to mitigate the flaws in the first-past-the-post voting system.  The more candidates that run the  more people who support minor candidates votes are wasted.  Sure they will get a second chance to vote but they will not count towards the decision as to who will be in the final contest.  This leaves the show  wide open to only two highest polling candidates, not necessarily the two most supported candidates.

"Every vote Yushchenko gets one less vote for Yatseniuk and/or Hrytsenko they are competing against each other".  
 The parliament will  rightly reject this proposal and if any candidate is not happy or prepared to take the risk then they should withdraw now before the ballot papers are finalized.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Yushchenko proposes to extend his term of office until May

Amidst the current wave of hysteria over the Flue pandemic Viktor Yushchenko in a desperate move has proposed that the Presidential elections be postponed until May

The decision to be made by Yushchenko and his appointed National Security and Defense Council. (NSDC)

This raises a number of issue not the least that Yushchenko is not in a position to determine how or when the election is held.  He could in theory declare a state of emergency in which case the election would be postponed.

Yushchenko's suggestion of prolonging his term of office has a number of serious flaws, not the least being that his 5-year term of office expires in January 23.

Further more the World Health Organisation has stated that there will be a second and possibly third way of the flue infections in Spring. (April to June).  WHO has given the Ukrainian Government a bill of health over its handling of the current flue crisis.

If the situation get to the point that the election MUST be canceled then Ukraine should/could fall back on the proposal of electing their Head of State by a constitutional majority of the parliament as is the case in Moldova, Greece and the EU.

Given Yushchenko's low populatity it is clear that he would not be re-elected to a second term of office in January.  He should not be making the decisions. 

The other option when Yushchenko's term expires is to appoint the speaker, V.Lytvn, as care taker President.


Last Chance: Nominations close today

If you have a lazy US$300,000 (2.5 million hrivina) kicking around and you are Ukrainian, over 35 and have lived in Ukraine for the past 10 years, today is the last day in which you can nominate for the parade of parades "Head Clown of Ukraine" auditions.  Your chance to make a name for yourself.

As of the close of business today no more names can be added to the list. The Central Election Committee has until November 11 (Remembrance day for the west) to finalize nominations.

Audition primaries will be held on January 17 and the top two clowns will progress to the finals.


Nominations for audition closed on November 6 and the Central Election Commission has until November 11 to finalize the audition list. The following Candidates have submitted nominations


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Western Ukraine under viral attack.

Western Ukraine has been hit hard with 70 deaths in Ukraine (37 deaths  in the Lviv region alone) attributed to the flue.  Concern that the H1N1 and AH1N1 Swine Flue strains is on the increase throughout Europe.

Ukraine's politicians are quick to make their mark in what appears to be a contest of who can out do the other in seeking media attention amidst concern that the Politicians may be fueling panic.  The Heath Minister has asked Politicians to refrain from giving medical advise.

Ukraine has closed schools for one week, Yushchenko has officially asked for International help in the supply of Tamiflue medication and vaccines. Yulia Tymoshenko has ordered 2 million masks to be made by Ukraine's prisoners. Tymoshenko has spent 50 million buying Tamiflu medication

Kyiv's Mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky, has asked fans not to attend the Champions League football match between Dynamo Kyiv and Inter Milan to be held tomorrow (November 4). A big ask given that 90% of the tickets have already been sold and hotels and accommodation booked.

Public transport has taken steps to limit the spread of infections and boarder guards at the Ukrainian Romanian Boarder given strict instructions to vet and potential carries from Western Ukraine crossing the border.

Not to miss an opportunity to make a quick buck local drug stores reportedly have cashed in on the local demand for medication with Prime-minister Yulia Tymoshchenko threatening to seek criminal prosecution of drugstore owners taking avantage of the situation.

There is ongoing concern at the extent of rubbish that is left lying out in the open streets, parkland and rivers catchments, a vast breeding ground for viral infections.

The WHO (World Heath Organization) has sent in a team of experts to monitor the situation.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn has said that the problem with the flu epidemic in Ukraine is being politicized. "The flu epidemic in our country will end after the presidential campaign,"

If the flue gets hold and more people become infected then there is a possibility that Yushchenko will call a state of emergency and it may effect the Presidential election campaign itself. Some say Yushchenko is itching to find any excuse to delay or cancel the elections so he can stay in office that little bit longer.  It's bad enough that Ukraine needs to come out and cast their vote in the middle of Ukraine's winter but with the potential scare of contracting a virus whilst standing in line will not help Ukraine exercise its democratic rights. Ukraine was meant to have gone to the polls the weekend before last but Yushchenko objected to an October poll and forced Ukraine to hold a January election instead.

And  the Harvard crimson considers the Ukrainian government’s response to H1N1 is excessive.

Ukraine's best hope now is to pray for an early winter in hope that the virus will not survive Ukraine's bitter cold winters. Everything looks good and clean when covered in snow.


The Circus Parade Auditions

14 candidates have nominated to date for the primary auditions, scheduled to take place on Sunday January 17, 2010.   Only two will make to the final round center stage performance.

At a cost of 2.5 million hrivina for the right to contest the election there is no shortage of ego-centric millionaires that are prepared to throw away their money, or their financial backers, in order to have their 15 minutes of fame. Many are technical/spoiler candidates designed to takeaway votes so as to make the other acts look good.

Under Ukraine's two round first-past-the-post voting system only the two highest polling candidates will make it to the final round. The remaining twelve will be fighting to take votes away from other candidates preventing them from reaching the finals.

If the polls are anything to go by Victor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko will be the star performers with  Viktor Yushchenko, last contest winner and incumbent head clown, being relegated to a supporting "warm-up the crowd" act.

Nominations for audition close on November 6 and the Central Election Commission has until November 11 to finalize the audition list.