The triumph and agony of Ukrainian oligarchs
The time of the Ukrainian oligarchs has passed. They supported the coup on Maidan in the hope that a stronger Russian business will not come to Ukraine within the framework of the Customs Union and take everything from them. Despite the signing of the association with the EU, which gave preferences to western companies, and severely restricted Ukrainian ones, Ukraine’s money bags still did not see a catastrophe. It is understandable: their president, the oligarch Poroshenko, manoeuvred with the dexterity of a thimble between almost unquestioning compliance with the political demands of the west (we now know this well from Derkach’s tapes) and enriching himself and his friends in various schemes: from “Ukroboronprom“ to “Rotterdam+“. The oligarchs were waiting for Zelensky’s arrival with even greater hope, because with a clown-puppet, it would be possible to free themselves from the pressure of a single oligarch and create rule of the seven boyars. But then there was a miscalculation, since the mega holding company “US Embassy” has now directly entered the arena of the robbery of Ukraine. The economic crisis, which was spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, resulted in 25 million American unemployed and the BLM riots. Therefore, American fat cats urgently needed additional money that can be taken, including from Ukraine, only now without paying for the services of oligarchs.
Back in the autumn of this year, BuzzFeed, a website associated with the US Democratic Party, leaked materials from FinCEN, a structure of the US Treasury Department that controls all dollar transactions in the world. From the disclosed data, it follows that the largest banks in the US and Europe for almost 20 years laundered more than $ 2trillion worldwide, including the capital of Ukrainian oligarchs Klyuev, Firtash, Kolomoisky, Poroshenko, Akhmetov, etc. It is no secret that all the new anti-corruption bodies in Ukraine (such as NABU or SAP) have only one goal ― to keep Ukrainian officials and related businesses under control by threatening criminal prosecution for withholding income in tax returns.
With the development of coronavirus oligarchic business crumbled. Metallurgical plants are making a loss, coal mines are being closed, because the “effective owners” of privatised Soviet enterprises have not invested practically a kopeck in the renewal of fixed assets for 30 years, and the outdated Ukrainian industry simply cannot compete with the same Chinese one. But western companies that are engaged in predatory export of grain and ore from Ukraine are covered in chocolate.
In general, the Procrustean bed of western integration, including competition with stronger players, began to weigh on the oligarchy, and it tried to throw off the yoke at least a little.
“Children” of Yanukovych,”nephews” of Poroshenko and “stepsons” of Soros
At the end of October, the Constitutional Court, whose judges Zelensky recently called “children” of Yanukovych and “nephews” of Poroshenko, abolished criminal liability for declaring false data and declared unconstitutional the appointment of the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) Artem Sytnik. The same anti-corruption Sytnik, who was found guilty of a corruption-related offence by the Rovno Court of Appeal in 2019. But Sytnik, who ensures Washington’s control over the Ukrainian authorities, did not leave, because no one could fire him. In particular, the Minister of Justice Denis Malyuska said that he did not know which branch of the Ukrainian government NABU belongs to. Of course, he does not know, because the office belongs to the American authorities, not Ukrainian.
As for the abolition of criminal liability for declaring false data, as we know, a real constitutional crisis has started, which actually ended with a new coup d’etat for the sake of “saving the achievements of the Revolution of Dignity”. Zelensky made a scandal by submitting to the Rada a draft law on the dissolution of the Constitutional Court (CCU), although according to the constitution, the Rada cannot do this. Europe criticised the CCU, but did not approve of this approach to resolving the issue, and had to retreat. Meanwhile, Poroshenko’s “nephews” continued to anneal and voted for the abolition of another pro-western law — the sale of land. However, they did not have time to officially announce the decision, without which it cannot enter into force, since the right people had a professional conversation with several judges and they did not come to work. There is no quorum, everything is stalled. Then the CCU decided to scare the President’s Office by putting on the agenda the consideration of the unconstitutionality of the language law.
In response, the State Bureau of Investigations opened a criminal case against the head of the CCU Tupitsky for state treason and the acquisition of land in the “temporarily occupied” Crimea. Then, on December 21st, the program “Schemes”, from the Soros media pool, published the well-known leaked audio recordings of Tupitsky’s conversations from the materials of the criminal case about the illegal seizure of the Zuevsky power mechanical plant on the territory of the L/DPR. And on December 24th, the head of the CCU was handed a summons to the Prosecutor General’s Office, but he did not appear “for family reasons”.
On December 25th, in an interview with the magazine “Fokus”, Zelensky revealed all the cards and actually confessed to committing a coup:
“I ask you not to touch the land, banking and language issues, so as not to split society,” Zelensky said about his meeting with Tupitsky. “After the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, we knew what would happen next: land, language, banks. I.e., all of this is a big operation. Special or not, I’m not interested in it as president. Then there was my, as I believe, tough decision, which completely stopped the possible intentions of the CCU to repeal certain laws.”
The president, who blocked the work of one of the branches of state power whose position he did not like, signed a coup d’etat.
“I believe that Tupitsky cannot be the chairman of the Constitutional Court. The reboot of the court should begin with this. I’m not even threatening. Conflict with the state, conflict with society, conflict with the Rada, conflict with the president. It seems to me that this is enough for a person to leave,” Zelensky added.
He of course did not say that it’s about a conflict with the American state, and the society that is being divided by land, banking and language issues – it is the US Embassy and Nazi stormtroopers, who (we, of course, do not know by whose order) with standard shouting about “Putin’s agents” threw condoms at the building of the CCU.
Bearer of sovereignty and source of power
Meanwhile, the US Embassy showed who is the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of power in Ukraine. In mid-October, Health Minister Maksim Stepanov in the heat of the moment told the press that he did not rule out the possibility of purchasing a Russian coronavirus vaccine, and was immediately called to the carpet by the US Charge d’affaires in Ukraine, Kristina Kvien After the meeting, the embassy’s Facebook page issued a message saying that Ukraine will not buy a Russian vaccine, but an American one from Pfizer. However, later it turned out that the capacity of Pfizer does not allow to quickly provide the “banana” republic with the drug, and that there is still a need to buy something else, but these are nuances. The most important thing is a free market and fair competition, which is so important in the US.
Around the same time, the head of the Ministry of Communications of Ukraine Kuleba criticised the State Service of Special Communications, which signed a memorandum of cooperation in the fields of cybersecurity and telecommunications with the Chinese competitor of the American IT business, Huawei.
“This is not a whim,” Kuleba said. “We are working with some partners to strengthen cybersecurity, and the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine is signing a memorandum with others.”
American partners were angry and as a result, on October 16th, the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine removed information about the partnership with Huawei from its website and social networks. The story continued on the 20th of December. After the meeting between Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal and US Deputy Secretary of State Keith Krach, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and a number of other departments decided to dismantle all Huawei equipment in their buildings. Feeling like a full chief of a colonial administration, Krach did not even try to keep polite and called both this and the recent refusal of Ukraine to cooperate with Huawei in the project of creating a “smart city” in favour of the American company Cisco as “wise decisions”. In addition, he actually announced on behalf of Ukraine that it is going to join the so-called “Clean Network” initiative, whose members are abandoning Chinese 5G technologies in the interests of the US.
At the end of 2020, the European Union also solves its problems at the expense of Ukraine. So, back in 2015, Ukraine introduced a 10-year moratorium on the export of untreated wood. This, of course, does not mean that the Carpathian Forest was not cut down and smuggled out. It was simply done by a union of oligarchs, customs officers and security forces past the state, in which we already know who is the source of power. In Europe, it was rightly noted that the moratorium violates the norms of the Association Agreement. Wasn’t this, in the end, what Maidan was for? In general, international arbitration began, which was slightly delayed due to COVID-19, but by December 11th 2020, a decision was still made: export bans are incompatible with Article 35 of the Association Agreement. Now Ukraine should lift the moratorium and export roundwood to Europe no longer quietly smuggled, but officially, openly and proudly. Well, if not, Europe will have the full right to increase import duties for Ukrainian goods. Whether it was worth organising an armed coup d’etat and a civil war for this is a rhetorical question. At least not for the Ukrainian authorities, who did not have subjectivity then, and do not have it now.
We will not eat enough, but we will export
The only profitable sectors of the Ukrainian economy – the extraction of natural resources and grain agriculture – cannot be controlled by Ukrainian oligarchs, when American and European fat cats are so acutely affected by the economic crisis. Therefore, in the autumn of 2019, the Ministry of Infrastructure announced the start of tenders for the transfer of Ukrainian seaports to foreign concessions. In the summer of 2020, the first one went ― the “Olviya” port was given to the Qataris. Well, in mid-December, Infrastructure Minister Vladislav Krikly said that within four years he plans to transfer all the ports of Ukraine to concession or private ownership. According to him, the Ministry is preparing to transfer the terminals of Chernomorsk, Odessa, Berdyansk, Izmail, Belgorod-Dniester, Ust-Dunaysky and Skadovsk to foreigners. Foreigners need ports primarily for exporting grain abroad. And to deliver products to the port from the manufacturer, there is a need for river transport. And here, again in December 2020, the Verkhovna Rada adopts the law “On The Inland Water Transport of Ukraine”, which allows foreign vessels to operate on inland waterways, and the state is obliged to maintain and reconstruct navigable hydraulic structures (dam locks). I.e., waterways for foreign companies will be maintained at the expense of the Ukrainian budget. This approach was very disliked by the main agrarian oligarch of Ukraine Aleksey Vadatursky, who has been building a river fleet for 10 years on EBRD loans. He explained that foreign vessels buy fuel twice as cheap and can refuel in neutral waters without paying excise duty to Ukraine. In short, Ukrainian barges will not be able to compete with foreign ones.
Waterways, as you know, are not everywhere, and there is a need to export a lot of things. Therefore, in addition to ports, the Ministry of Infrastructure is preparing to transfer railway stations to concession. And at the very end of November (almost our beloved December), “Ukrzaliznytsya” allowed private locomotives to work on the railway, and the first lucky one was LLC “Ukrainian Locomotive Company”, which, of course, does not build any locomotives, but has 3,000 hryvnias of authorised capital and 14 old, 70’s, 2M62 Soviet locomotives, they say that were decommissioned in Latvia. And this strange tiny firm with ancient trains and sky-high fares claims that within five years it will take 10% of Ukrainian rail freight traffic. We are waiting for foreigners with more modern transport and cheaper fares in the near future.
And perhaps the cherry on the cake for foreign business in December 2020 is the international investment arbitration, where the tobacco monopolist Philip Morris International (PMI) filed a lawsuit against Ukraine.
The fact is that the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) fined the Cyprus offshore distributor “Tedis-Ukraina” and four American and British tobacco giants (PMI, JTI, IT and BAT) 6.5 billion hyvnias for a cartel conspiracy to monopolise the market and not allow other distributors there. “Tedis” began to intimidate, saying that “such a decision can lead not only to the loss of billions of tax revenues to the state and local budgets of Ukraine, but also to the reduction of jobs of thousands of Ukrainian families throughout Ukraine during the coronacrisis”, and PMI ― that “the dispute between the investor and the state will have an extremely negative impact on the investment attractiveness of Ukraine, as well as on the reputation of the country as a whole”.
What investments and what jobs can we speak of if “Tedis” takes eighth place on the “Forbes” list of the largest companies in Ukraine in 2020, with revenue of almost 50 billion hryvnias per year, and at the same time the distributor gives work to only 2321 employees. For comparison, the companies in the top ten (these are large metallurgists, farmers and retailers) have between 15,000 and 55,000 employees. Feel the difference. Such is “Tedis”. What about the disgruntled American and British tobacco producers? Philip Morris ranks 22nd in the ranking with 25.6 billion in revenue for the year and 503 employees, British American Tobacco – 31st place, 18 billion hryvnias in revenue and 1239 people, JTI International Company ― 37th place, 14.3 billion hryvnias in revenue and 462 people, Imperial Tobacco – 81st place, 7.7 billion hryvnias in revenue and 700 people. In terms of the difference between income and jobs created, this is about nothing. Tobacco monopolists earn money from citizens of Ukraine and withdraw money abroad. And this will now happen in all spheres.
After all, it was not for nothing that Zelensky at a meeting with Trump called him “our great teacher”, but gave congratulations on Biden’s victory with the words “Our friendship will only become stronger!”, adding that Joe Biden knows Ukraine better than his predecessor, because “even before his presidency, he, so to speak, had deep relations with Ukraine“. About these relations, for example, about how Poroshenko reported to Biden on the appointment, at the “request” of the latter, of a new Prosecutor General of Ukraine, we know well from the Derkach’s tapes released last year.
So the friendship gets more potent, the relationship gets deeper, the robbery gets stronger. Summing up the results of 2020, the supporters of Maidan can repeat with a sense of deep moral satisfaction the words of one very famous great friend of the US and Europe: “The process has begun!”.
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