Progress report, three weeks after talks with Yanukovych began
1. Not one political prisoner has been exonerated despite the new “amnesty law”. The prosecution is seeking to sentence many of them to 12 to 15 years but, so as not to attract too much attention, has been willing to release them for a few months first by placing them under “house arrest”. Then there’s yesterday’s winner, which saw four Afghan veterans arrested for bringing a pickpocket to the police [in a citizen’s arrest]. The thief, I expect, has since been released, perhaps even patted on the back and offered some smokes.
2. Viktor Yanukovych is still President, Viktor Pshonka Prosecutor General, and Volodymyr Rybak Speaker [of the Ukrainian Parliament]. Ihor Kaletnyk remains First Deputy Speaker, while Vitaliy Zakharchenko is still Interior Minister. These so-called ministers of the former Cabinet [which resigned] persistently forget the “Acting” in their titles.
3. The former Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, is relaxing in his mansion in Austria. Since he has apparently never engaged in any business (unless you count the establishment of the system that administers the VAT and today’s tax system as a whole), he’s no doubt living there in abject poverty.
4. Not a single crime against Ukrainian citizens, beginning with the student beatings on November 30, 2013, has been or is being investigated. The Prosecutor’s office openly boasts about this.
5. The Acting Cabinet remains as it was [under Azarov] and acts as though nothing has actually changed, but it is now headed by Serhiy Arbuzov (so at least someone’s dreams keep coming true). Yanukovych recently signed something overriding the Constitution and giving the Acting Cabinet the same authorities as a constitutionally constituted government. It seems even this can be done if there’s a will.
6. The Family, with Azarov at the helm, has earned another several hundred million dollars on account of so-called “uncontrolled currency fluctuations” by squandering more of the NBU’s [National Bank of Ukraine’s] international reserves through government-controlled and Family-owned banks.
7. To “stabilize the hryvnia”, the Family, represented by Arbuzov, has prevailed on puppet NBU chairman, Ihor Sorkin, to pass unprecedented “NBU regulations”. Such regulations are rarely seen anywhere, even in wartime. Now lucky exporters must sell 100% of the foreign currency they’ve received as income and are not entitled to buy any foreign currency even to repay their loans. This is how the NBU is saving the country! As always, there will be a handful of select banks where exporters will be able to buy US dollars. Granted, they’ll have to add 15% to 20% on top of official rates. But they have no choice – it’s that or nothing. The dollars from these banks come from NBU reserves (and hence point 6, above).
8. A few dozen more people are under “house arrest”. Several dozen more cars have been set on fire. Searches, intimidations and the like continue. But all that’s absolutely normal. Nothing new.
9. The Berkut riot police and internal troops, who could barely breathe by January 22, when reserves and even “tax police” from across the country were being rushed to Kyiv as reinforcements, have now had a chance to properly recover. The number of Berkut hasn’t yet reached 30,000 [as proposed] but, judging from the newspaper ads, the drive is clearly underway. Meanwhile, we’re seeing cuts to medical facilities that treat children with cancer.
10. The government’s stock of grenades, tear gas, and bullets has been replenished. (Remember how, at the height of the clashes, the Berkut had to make and throw their own petrol bombs, along with cobblestones, at the other side?) The new grenades are more powerful. I do hope the good people who made them and all those in the Interior Ministry who procure the gear (including steel-hearted and brass-cased but apparently “non-lethal” bullets) have come up with something better. Last time, the poor Berkut had to resort to scotch-tape to attach nails and stones to their grenades, themselves, out in the field. This, of course, takes time and reduces the number of casualties. And on that note, how could we possibly be expected to spend money on cancer treatment if the grenades are costing us USD $60 apiece?
11. The eastern oblasts have seen the emergence of “public militias” that include convicts, paroled prisoners and even police officers. Since even these don’t seem to be enough, they’re joined by Russian bikers and Don Cossacks, though these “Don Cossacks,” for some reason, come from St. Petersburg.
12. As expected, we’re hearing talk of “federalization” (just warming up though till the end of the Olympics). And how could we not with all our domestic and imported thugs – some disguised as police, some not – lolling about?
13. The crime rate in Kyiv, especially downtown, now exceeds that of the early and mid-1990s. Hardly surprising given the mass shipments of Yanukovych supporters into Kyiv, lured by prospects of making UAH 200 a day, over these past two months and the police not even bothering to pretend that they’re protecting citizens and the law.
14. The most important thing is that the Family has had a chance to earn another UAH 8-12-15bn over these past three weeks (public procurements continue, do they not?) Granted, in some areas, it’s falling short as the budget is receiving only 60% of the expected proceeds, but the currency exchange rate and the NBU’s reserves will more than make up for it.
15. Kluyev has replaced Liovochkin as Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration, a government body not provided for in the Constitution. But in this respect, nothing has changed: Kluyev continues to do what he he has always done.
Overall, nothing has happened that wasn’t predicted when the “negotiations” began.
1. The complete collapse of the economy. First the banking system, then a chain reaction and everything else. If deposits are still being issued somewhere, now is the time to do something about it.
2. A poorly-disguised attempt at intervention and annexation by Putin. Why else would we need “federalization” and Russian bikers? The Olympics will soon be over. By then, local councils [in the east and south] will have had just enough time to convene to request an intervention from Russia. The role of the SBU [the State Security Service of Ukraine] is clear, headed up, as it is, by a man who “retired” from the Russian army in 1998: to fight the “radicals” (the “Banderites”) seeking to “overthrow the government”.
In short, my friends, no one can fix this but us.
Be brave. Stay strong. We will defeat them!
Source: Facebook of Lesya Orobets
Translated by Anna Korbut
Edited by Lesia Stangret