Thursday, January 7, 2010

Victor, Victor and "Evita"???

 The Ukrainian Presidential Election will be held January 17 and will likely go to a second round as there are some 18 candiates running so it is unlikely any one will get the majority needed.  The front runners are Victor Yanukovich, the villain of the 2004 Orange Revolution followed at least 10 points behind by Yulia Timoshenko, former ally and now bitter enemy of current president Victor Yushchenko whose support is now single digit.

There is a good article in The New Republic about Yulia Timoshenko, current Prime Minister and would-be President of Ukraine.  The opening attention grabber is that she truly considers herself Eva Peron reincarnated* and goes on the describe her rise from poverty in Dnipropetrovsk to billionaire through gas trading and her unrestrained "lust for power". 

In his book "Casino Moscow: A Tale of Greed and Adventure on Capitalism's Wildest Frontier", Matthew Brzezinski describes how Yulia made her money, with the help of her father-in-law in the early days of Ukraine's independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.  When the system collapsed, factory managers had no idea how to source inputs nor market outputs.  All they knew was how to produce to meet their quotas.  Everything else had been done from Moscow.  

People with connections began to barter with the factories, providing inputs eg gas and electricity and marketing whatever the factory produced.  Always at huge cash advantages to themselves and certainly to the detriment of the factories whose managers could care less, until they found themselves bankrupt and discarded.  

She then followed Lazarenko to Kyiv where she became Minister of Energy in his cabinet under President Kuchma, where she fell out of favour  and spent a month in prison before charges of illegal transfer of a billion dollars, plus bribery of Lazarenko were dropped.  

She switched her loyalties to Yushchenko and her fiery oratory stirred the hearts of the  crowds massed in Independence Square during the Orange Revolution.  Whether Yushchenko was jealous of her popularity or she couldn't stand playing second fiddle, she did not last long as Prime Minister and was replaced by Yanukovich.  Go figure. After the last general election she was able to cobble together enough votes to regain Prime Ministership but will not be satisfied until she is President.

Why anyone would want to be president of Ukraine today is beyond me.  The incoming president will inherit a mess.  European Voice has an excellent article on the subject.  An economy that shrank 15% last year and is in danger of default.  A constitution that virtually guarantees ungovernability.

*I believe in reincarnation too.  In a previous life, I was a horseman of the Siberian Steppes, though Ella used to assure me I was merely part of his horse.


  1. Now I understand what you and Yulia Timoshenko have in common.

    Your both have "ass"ets.

  2. Gee and I thought we had it bad here in the U.S. Here they worked our assets off with this recession. :P


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