Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
A fantastic story happened at the beginning of this week in the Kiev region. On Tuesday, January 30th, specialists of Kiyevoblgaz disconnected a whole city (Slavutych) – with a population of 25,000 people – from the gas supply. The reason — the debts of the local gas supplying enterprises, i.e., not the inhabitants, but intermediaries.
Under the new rules introduced in 2015, if a consumer (local company) can’t document payment for the next consignment of gas, then the supply stops. The continuation of consumption without confirmation of the purchased volumes is considered as “unauthorised extraction” and a violation of the law.
At 1pm specialists of the regional company closed the valve. The further developments of the story are lost in the gloom. According to one version of events, the local gas-men unauthorisedly turned the gas back on, and the regional gas suppliers once again shut it off and called for an emergency patrol. According to another version of events, the minimum necessary temperature was maintained in houses only thanks to another boiler room that uses biofuel.
It is interesting that in the same Slavutych literally last autumn nearly the same shutdown happened. The local authorities at the time said that they will have enough money either to pay for gas or to pay wages to state employees. It’s like saying to citizens: are you already cold or shall we give a salary to state employees?
Citizens have a different problem. In Slavutych and some other cities, especially in the south of the country, at the end of the autumn they in all seriousness discussed whether it is necessary to pay for central heating or is it possible to cope somehow without it. How in general can such an issue be discussed in the center of Europe in the 21st century? The answer is simple: the price of heating since the coup d’etat has grown several times, and not everyone can afford it.
Their special “heating” issues are being resolved in secondary and higher educational institutions. At the beginning of January it became known that a number of large Kiev and provincial universities allowed their students to take a vacation until the spring. The reason is the same: there is no money to heat all rooms up to the acceptable temperature.
How did they come to such a life? Recently the Maidan authorities, as is known, buy Russian gas with a Slovak surcharge, and coal from the Republic of South Africa and Pennsylvania. But this is not the main reason why gas for the population rose in price tenfold and rent 3-5 times. Prices were brought to the “market level” because such is the requirement of the IMF, which completely coincides with the aims of the Maidan authorities. Their economic policy comes down to depriving the population of as much money as possible.
But beautiful words about the invisible hand of the market, which will do everything itself, remain just words. In a situation where citizens have no money, and in the economy there is no like-for-like laws and rules, the hand becomes visible and strangles all who come across it.
Most energy enterprises belong to oligarchs, and since they also possess power in the country, they can reach an “agreement” on what is necessary for them. Violations can and can’t be noticed — it depends on what was agreed on. In the same way, some industrial consumers of heat and gas can claim privileges if they reach an “agreement”. What they agreed on, of course, stays away from the tax service.
In other words, the economy has no rules and regularities: they are not good and not bad — they just aren’t observed, and this means that they are absent. Nobody builds a strong system here. Western creditors are only interested in the good working order of the mechanism of taking away money for the return of credits. For the Maidan authorities only the speed that the credit is delivered is of interest.
The attempt to introduce a western model of economic relations in a market where nothing is ready for this and where there are neither wealthy consumers, those who got used to abiding by the law, nor equality of all before the law is a direct way to suicide – suicide of the country and citizens, but not oligarchs or the IMF, of course. The latter have insured their risks.
While Petro Poroshenko, who is not alien to energy assets, spends half a million dollars on a New Year’s rest in the Maldives, the inhabitants of Slavutych decide what is better: already to pay for gas or to pay state employees again; already to switch on the pipes or to freeze a little more? This is how the introduction of western values in the country of the victorious Maidan look.
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