Ukraine: A glimmer of hope or a cynical agreement?

Russia today seems to have stepped back from the brink over Ukraine; talks in Geneva have produced a surprise agreement on de-escalating the crisis. Of course, words need to be put into action. On the face of it, the agreement not only means that armed men in eastern cities like Donetsk need to leave their barricades and the buildings they occupy, but that Maidan’s defences in Kiev also need to be dismantled — a demand made by Yanukovych’s administration months ago that sparked the violence that precipitated his flight from Ukraine.

Russia still has an agenda; what they means by federalism may be very different from what Kiev understands that to be. And things have come to such a pass that Ukraine needs to completely reinvent itself if it is to survive as a viable state. Tough choices remain to be made.





Don’t do it Yulia – your are the last thing Ukraine needs now!

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who was imprisoned on corruption charges before being freed after President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed last month, is to run for president in the country’s post-revolution elections in May.

Tymoshenko is yesterday’s woman and part of the country’s past. When she appeared on stage in Kiev’s Maidan Square last month (Saturday February 22) hundreds of people streamed away in disgust. There is not doubt she suffered in prison. There is also little doubt that she was a deeply divisive figure in Ukraine. The country can do without her as it seeks to move away from two decades of corrupt governance.


IMF Bail out for Ukraine – is it enough?

The International Monetary Fund has announced a $14-16 billion bail out for cash-strapped Ukraine.

Will that be enough?

Ukraine switched from two year to single year reporting for tax purposes last year and I understand that, as a result, this year’s tax take is going to be much lower than usual, as companies and businesspeople have done their best to minimise tax exposure.

I was told last December, during a visit to Kiev, that this, alone, would leave Ukraine with a $30 billion hole in its public finances.

Cynically, one could say that now Crimea is ‘gone’ there will be some savings to the exchequer there, but nonetheless the current government has very little time to put into place policies that will keep the public on its side before really serious fiscal problems cause further trouble in a deeply unstable situation.

Ukrainians became disaffected with a ‘liberal’ regime after the Orange Revolution of 2004 for largely economic reasons (and public disquiet over corruption) and voted in Yanukovych and his cronies – who were even more corrupt.

They could make the same mistake again as the current government will get a lot of flak for problems that they have inherited…