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Reality Peeks Through in Ukraine

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | January 6, 2016

Nearly two years since U.S. officials helped foment a coup in Ukraine – partly justified by corruption allegations – the country continues to wallow in graft and cronyism as the living standards for average Ukrainians plummet, according to economic data and polls of public attitudes.

Even the neocon-oriented Wall Street Journal took note of the worsening corruption in a Jan. 1, 2016 article observing that “most Ukrainians say the revolution’s promise to replace rule by thieves with the rule of law has fallen short and the government acknowledges that there is still much to be done.”

Actually, the numbers suggest something even worse. More and more Ukrainians rate corruption as a major problem facing the nation, including a majority of 53 percent last September, up from 48 percent last June and 28 percent in September 2014, according to polls by International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s GDP has fallen in every quarter since the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Since then, the average Ukrainian also has faced economic “reforms” to slash pensions, energy subsidies and other social programs, as demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

In other words, the hard lives of most Ukrainians have gotten significantly harder while the elites continue to skim off whatever cream is left, including access to billions of dollars in the West’s foreign assistance that is keeping the economy afloat.

Part of the problem appears to be that people supposedly responsible for the corruption fight are themselves dogged by allegations of corruption. The Journal cited Ukrainian lawmaker Volodymyr Parasyuk who claimed to be so outraged by graft that he expressed his fury “by kicking in the face an official he says owns luxury properties worth much more than a state salary could provide.”

However, the Journal also noted that “parliament is the site of frequent mass brawls [and] it is hard to untangle all the overlapping corruption allegations and squabbling over who is to blame. Mr. Parasyuk himself was named this week as receiving money from an organized crime suspect, a claim he denies.”

Then, there is the case of Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who is regarded by top American columnists as the face of Ukraine’s reform. Indeed, a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month by Stephen Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, hailed Jaresko as “a tough reformer” whose painful plans include imposing a 20 percent “flat tax” on Ukrainians (a favorite nostrum of the American Right which despises a progressive tax structure that charges the rich at a higher rate).

Sestanovich noted that hedge-fund billionaire George Soros, who has made a fortune by speculating in foreign currencies, has endorsed Jaresko’s plan but that it is opposed by some key parliamentarians who favor a “populist” alternative that Sestanovich says “will cut rates, explode the deficit, and kiss IMF money good-bye.”

Yet, Jaresko is hardly a paragon of reform. Prior to getting instant Ukrainian citizenship and becoming Finance Minister in December 2014, she was a former U.S. diplomat who had been entrusted to run a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-funded program to help jump-start an investment economy in Ukraine and Moldova.

Jaresko’s compensation was capped at $150,000 a year, a salary that many Americans would envy, but it was not enough for her. So, she engaged in a variety of maneuvers to evade the cap and enrich herself by claiming millions of dollars in bonuses and fees.

Ultimately, Jaresko was collecting more than $2 million a year after she shifted management of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF) to her own private company, Horizon Capital, and arranged to get lucrative bonuses when selling off investments, even as the overall WNISEF fund was losing money, according to official records.

For instance, Jaresko collected $1.77 million in bonuses in 2013, according to WNISEF’s latest available filing with the Internal Revenue Service. In her financial disclosure forms with the Ukrainian government, she reported earning $2.66 million in 2013 and $2.05 million in 2014, thus amassing a sizeable personal fortune while investing U.S. taxpayers’ money supposedly to benefit the Ukrainian people.

It didn’t matter that WNISEF continued to hemorrhage money, shrinking from its original $150 million to $89.8 million in the 2013 tax year, according to the IRS filing. WNISEF reported that the bonuses to Jaresko and other corporate officers were based on “successful” exits from some investments even if the overall fund was losing money. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “How Ukraine’s Finance Minister Got Rich.”]

Though Jaresko’s enrichment schemes are documented by IRS and other official filings, the mainstream U.S. media has turned a blind eye to this history, all the better to pretend that Ukraine’s “reform” process is in good hands. (It also turns out that Jaresko did not comply with Ukrainian law that permits only single citizenship; she has kept her U.S. passport exploiting a loophole that gives her two years to show that she has renounced her U.S. citizenship.)

Propaganda over Reality

Yet, as good as propaganda can be – especially when the U.S. government and mainstream media are moving in lockstep – reality is not always easily managed. Ukraine’s continuing – and some say worsening – corruption prompted last month’s trip to Ukraine by Vice President Joe Biden who gave a combination lecture and pep talk to Ukraine’s parliament.

Of course, Biden has his own Ukraine cronyism problem because – three months after the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Yanukovych government – Ukraine’s largest private gas firm, Burisma Holdings, appointed his son, Hunter Biden, to its board of directors.

Burisma – a shadowy Cyprus-based company – also lined up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry’s former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures.

As Time magazine reported, “Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.”

According to investigative journalism inside Ukraine, the ownership of Burisma has been traced to Privat Bank, which is controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the U.S.-backed “reform” regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine (though Kolomoisky was eventually ousted from that post in a power struggle over control of UkrTransNafta, Ukraine’s state-owned oil pipeline operator).

In his December speech, Biden lauded the sacrifice of the 100 or so protesters who died during the Maidan clashes in February 2014, referring to them by their laudatory name “The Heavenly Hundred.” But Biden made no heavenly references to the estimated 10,000 people, mostly ethnic Russians, who have been slaughtered in the U.S.-encouraged “Anti-Terror Operation” waged by the coup regime against eastern Ukrainians who objected to the violent ouster of President Yanukovych, who had won large majorities in those areas.

Apparently, heaven is not as eager to welcome ethnic Russian victims of U.S.-inspired political violence. Nor did Biden take note that some of the Heavenly Hundred were street fighters for neo-Nazi and other far-right nationalist organizations.

But – after making his sugary references to The Heavenly Hundred – Biden delivered his bitter medicine, an appeal for the parliament to continue implementing IMF “reforms,” including demands that old people work longer into their old age.

Biden said, “For Ukraine to continue to make progress and to keep the support of the international community you have to do more, as well. The big part of moving forward with your IMF program — it requires difficult reforms. And they are difficult.

“Let me say parenthetically here, all the experts from our State Department and all the think tanks, and they come and tell you, that you know what you should do is you should deal with pensions. You should deal with — as if it’s easy to do. Hell, we’re having trouble in America dealing with it. We’re having trouble. To vote to raise the pension age is to write your political obituary in many places.

“Don’t misunderstand that those of us who serve in other democratic institutions don’t understand how hard the conditions are, how difficult it is to cast some of the votes to meet the obligations committed to under the IMF. It requires sacrifices that might not be politically expedient or popular. But they’re critical to putting Ukraine on the path to a future that is economically secure. And I urge you to stay the course as hard as it is. Ukraine needs a budget that’s consistent with your IMF commitments.”

Eroding Support

But more and more Ukrainians appear to see through the charade in Kiev, as the poll numbers on the corruption crisis soar. Meanwhile, European officials seem to be growing impatient with the Ukraine crisis which has added to the drag on the Continent’s economies because the Obama administration strong-armed the E.U. into painful economic sanctions against Russia, which had come to the defense of the embattled ethnic Russians in the east.

“Many E.U. officials are fed up with Ukraine,” said one Western official quoted by the Journal, which added that “accusations of graft by anticorruption activists, journalists and diplomats have followed to the new government.”

The Journal said those implicated include some early U.S. favorites, such as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, “whose ratings have plummeted to single digits amid allegations in the media and among anticorruption activists of his associates’ corrupt dealings. Mr. Yatsenyuk has denied any involvement in corruption and his associates, one of whom resigned from parliament over the controversy this month, deny wrongdoing.”

The controversy over Yatsenyuk’s alleged cronyism led to an embarrassing moment in December 2015 when an anti-Yatsenyuk lawmaker approached the podium with a bouquet of roses, which the slightly built Yatsenyuk accepted only to have the lawmaker lift him up and try to carry him from the podium.

In many ways, the Ukraine crisis represents just another failure of neocon-driven “regime change,” which has also spread chaos across the Middle East and northern Africa. But the neocons appear to have even a bigger target in their sites, another “regime change” in Moscow, with Ukraine just a preliminary move. Of course, that scheme could put in play nuclear war.

Taking Aim

The Ukraine “regime change” took shape in 2013 after Russian President Putin and President Barack Obama collaborated to tamp down crises in Syria and Iran, two other prime targets for neocon “regime changes.” American neocons were furious that those hopes were dashed. Ukraine became Putin’s payback.

In fall 2013, the neocons took aim at Ukraine, recognizing its extreme sensitivity to Russia which had seen previous invasions, including by the Nazis in World War II, pass through the plains of Ukraine and into Russia. Carl Gershman, neocon president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, cited Ukraine as the “biggest prize” and a key step toward unseating Putin in Moscow. [See Consortiumnews.com’sWhat the Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Initially, the hope was that Yanukovych would lead Ukraine into an economic collaboration with Europe while cutting ties to Russia. But Yanukovych received a warming from top Ukrainian economists that a hasty split with neighboring Russia would cost the country a staggering $160 billion in lost income.

So, Yanukovych sought to slow down the process, prompting angry protests especially from western Ukrainians who descended on Maidan square. Though initially peaceful, neo-Nazi and other nationalist militias soon infiltrated the protests and began ratcheting up the violence, including burning police with Molotov cocktails.

Meanwhile, U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations, such as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (which receives money from USAID and hedge-fund billionaire George Soros’s Open Society), hammered away at alleged corruption in the Yanukovych government.

In December 2013, Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” and – in an intercepted phone call in early February 2014 – she discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who Ukraine’s new leaders would be.

“Yats is the guy,” Nuland said of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as she also disparaged a less aggressive approach by the European Union with the pithy phrase: “Fuck the E.U.” (Nuland, a former aide to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, is the wife of arch-neoconservative ideologue Robert Kagan.)

Sen. John McCain also urged on the protests, telling one group of right-wing Ukrainian nationalists that they had America’s backing. And, the West’s mainstream media fell in love with the Maidan protesters as innocent white hats and thus blamed the worsening violence on Yanukovych. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

Urging Restraint

In Biden’s December 2015 speech to the parliament, he confirmed that he personally pressed on President Yanukovych the need to avoid violence. “I was literally on the phone with your former President urging restraint,” Biden said.

However, on Feb. 20, 2014, mysterious snipers – apparently from buildings controlled by the far right – fired on and killed policemen as well as some protesters. The bloodshed sparked other violent clashes as armed rioters battled with retreating police.

Although the dead included some dozen police officers, the violence was blamed on Yanukovych, who insisted that he had ordered the police not to use lethal force in line with Biden’s appeal. But the State Department and the West’s mainstream media made Yanukovych the black-hatted villain.

The next day, Feb. 21, Yanukovych signed an accord – negotiated and guaranteed by three European nations – to accept reduced powers and early elections so he could be voted out of office if that was the public’s will. However, as police withdrew from the Maidan, the rioters, led by neo-Nazi militias called sotins, stormed government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives.

In the West’s mainstream media, these developments were widely hailed as a noble “revolution” and – with lumps in their throats – many journalists averted their misty eyes from the key role played by unsavory neo-Nazis, so as not to dampen the happy narrative (although BBC was among the few MSM outlets that touched on this inconvenient reality).

Ever since, the major U.S. news media has stayed fully on board, ignoring evidence that what happened was a U.S.-sponsored coup. The MSM simply explains all the trouble as a case of naked “Russian aggression.

There were kudos, too, when “reformer” Natalie Jaresko was made Finance Minister along with other foreign “technocrats.” There was no attention paid to evidence about the dark underside of the Ukrainian “revolution of dignity,” as Biden called it.

Though the neo-Nazis – sometimes even teamed up with Islamic jihadists – were the tip of the spear slashing through eastern Ukraine, their existence was either buried deep inside stories or dismissed as “Russian propaganda.”

That was, in effect, American propaganda and, as clever as it was, it could only control reality for so long.

Even though the fuller truth about Ukraine has never reached the American people, there comes a point when even the best propagandists have to start modifying their rosy depictions. Ukraine appears to have reached that moment.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘100% sure Berkut police didn’t shoot people in Kiev’ – ex-Ukrainian interior minister

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Police officers on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began on February 19, 2014 (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)
RT | April 5, 2014

Berkut riot police were targets – not shooters – during the Maidan standoff, ex-Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said, adding that a fair investigation of the tragic events in Kiev is impossible under the biased, coup-imposed government.

During his interview with Russia’s Channel One, Zakharchenko stressed that he is “100% sure that it wasn’t the police” who used firearms against the people during the February Maidan standoff.

“Berkut riot police were without their service weapons. On February 18 and 1,986 police officers were wounded by gunshots. Fourteen of them died. They were internal troops, military, Berkut, and traffic police, who were shot at their post checkpoint,” he said.

On February 20, Berkut forces and internal troops encountered point shooting in Kiev’s center and “that’s why they actually, began retreating,” the former interior minister explained.

“It’s clear for any reasonable person that if it were the law enforcement officers who opened fire, they would’ve probably been advancing. That would’ve been the reason to use firearms. Meanwhile, they began retreating after the killing of their troops began,” he said.

According to Zakharchenko, the servicemen that were brought to Kiev hospitals had gunshot wounds from 9mm pistols, hunting rifles, buckshots, and smooth-bore weapons.

The ex-minister stressed that the snipers – who fired at both police and demonstrators – were stationed in three buildings, which were under the control of Maidan protestors.

“It was a provocation staged with only one motive – to launch another attack on law enforcement, launch an attack aimed at seizing the governmental buildings and institutes. That’s the logic behind all those events,” he said.

February 20 became the bloodiest day of the Ukrainian coup, with 42 people killed in Kiev.

Zakharchenko believes the self-proclaimed government in Kiev is biased, and is therefore incapable of pursuing a fair investigation of the shootings in country’s capital.

He added that no one is investigating the gunshot wounds received by law enforcement officers during the Maidan standoff.

“Without a nonpartisan international investigation team that would undertake a thorough inquiry into the events that occurred in Ukraine, we won’t get such an objective investigation,” the ex-minister said.

According to Zakharchenko, Western nations – which fully supported the Ukrainian coup – were aware that Maidan radicals had firearms in their possession.

“I had meetings with various international representatives, including the US ambassador to Ukraine, as well as with EU ambassador Jan Tombinski. I repeatedly called them and said that there were firearms at Independence Square,” he said.

The identity of the ‘Maidan snipers’ is a hot topic in Ukraine and abroad. Twelve Berkut officers were detained earlier this week for allegedly being part of the so-called ‘Black Company,’ which was given sniper rifles to provide cover for its retreating comrades on February 20.

Coup-appointed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk says that ousted President Yanukovich is the one who should answer for the killings of Maidan protesters.

Meanwhile, a phone conversation leaked last month between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet contains strong suspicion that the snipers were hired by Maidan leaders.

In his interview, Zakharchenko also criticized the National Guard – the new security force put together by the coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities. The force was created from interior troops and Maidan self-defense forces.

“There is a feeling that they came up with this National Guard in order to create… something like stormtroopers to legalize the militants who don’t want to surrender their weapons, so that they’d carry the real power – thus matching them against the police and the army and restoring order with its own revolutionary forces,” he said.

The National Guard has already recruited 30,000 soldiers, according to Kiev.

RIA Novosti is citing sources in the Ukrainian Defense and Interior Ministries, who say the creation of the National Guard is treated by them as a symbol of distrust from Kiev authorities.

But Zakharchenko has serious doubts about the National Guard’s ability to work effectively.

“Well, I just can’t understand, for example, how they will execute guard duties or how this will look like at all. How can they ensure the rule of law if they were engaged in debacles, if they killed law enforcement officers, attacked them and burned with Molotov cocktails. How much trust will the population have towards those guards? Whom will they be defending?” he said.

Zakharchenko served as Ukraine’s interior minister from November 7, 2011 to February 21, 2014, when parliament removed him from office.

~

5 unanswered questions surrounding Kiev killings

April 6, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ukrainians Get IMF’s Bitter Medicine

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By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 2, 2014

It’s a safe bet that most of the Ukrainians who flooded Maidan Square in Kiev in February did not do so because they wanted the International Monetary Fund to make their lives even more miserable by slashing subsidies for heat, gutting pensions and devaluing the currency to make everyday goods more expensive.

But thanks to the U.S.-backed coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with a regime including far-right parties, super-rich ”oligarchs” and technocrats with little sympathy for the suffering of average people, that’s exactly what happened. Although lacking legitimacy that would come from national elections, the coup regime pushed through the demands of the Washington-based IMF.

The process began just 10 days after the violent Feb. 22 coup that forced Yanukovych to flee for his life. IMF officials landed in Kiev on March 4 to hammer out a deal that acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, himself a chilly bank technocrat, has acknowledged is “very unpopular, very difficult, very tough.”

What is also striking about the IMF plan is that it puts virtually all the pain on average Ukrainians. There is nothing in the economic “reform” package that extracts some of the ill-gotten gains from Ukraine’s ten or so “oligarchs,” the multimillionaires and even billionaires who largely plundered Ukraine’s wealth after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There is no plan for demanding that these “oligarchs” kick in some percentage of their net worth to help their own country. Instead, hard-pressed citizens of the United States and Europe are expected to carry the financial load.

The U.S. Congress voted by large bipartisan majorities to have the American taxpayers provide $1 billion in aid to Ukraine’s coup regime. Further, the IMF predicts that its $18 billion in loan guarantees could generate up to $27 billion from the international community over the next two years.

Though the IMF plan includes some promises about fighting corruption, there is no requirement that the West’s billions of dollars will go toward government programs that might actually strengthen Ukraine and help the average Ukrainian by putting the jobless to work. Nothing about upgrading the infrastructure or providing improved educational opportunities, better health care and other programs that might reduce some of Ukraine’s social pressures and make it a more viable nation.

For instance, investing in roads and rail could make Ukraine a more attractive investment opportunity for agricultural corporations eying the country’s rich soil which historically has made it the breadbasket for much of Central and Eastern Europe.

Cookie-Cutter Approach

Instead, the IMF has applied its usual cookie-cutter approach toward a troubled nation: reduce public spending, slash social programs, eliminate energy subsidies, devalue the currency, raise taxes, impose triggers for more austerity if inflation rises, etc.

Some economists project that the cumulative impact of the IMF “reforms” could result in a 3 percent contraction of Ukraine’s already depressed economy, which fell into a severe recession after the Wall Street crash of 2008 and has been inching along at almost zero growth the past two years. But Yatsenyuk warned parliament that the drop in the GDP could be more like 10 percent if corrective actions were not taken.

But those actions will inflict more hardship on the Ukrainian people — their “99 percent” — while giving Ukraine’s “1 percent” pretty much a pass. Yet, beyond fairness, there’s also the question of the legitimacy of the coup regime taking on new debt obligations without the consent of the Ukrainian people.

After the violent ouster of elected President Yanukovych on Feb. 22 — after he rejected the IMF’s terms – the post-coup parliament cobbled together a new government which involved handing out four ministries to far-right parties whose armed neo-Nazi militias had spearheaded the coup.

Yatsenyuk was the personal choice of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland to lead the new regime. Weeks before the coup, Nuland was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who should serve in a new government. Nuland said in a phone call to Pyatt that was intercepted and posted online that “Yats is the guy” — and he was installed as prime minister once Yanukovych was gone. [See Consortiumnews.com’sWhat Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Ukraine’s parliament has set a presidential election for May 25, and protesters in the Maidan also sought quick parliamentary elections. But Western diplomats have been urging a delay in the parliamentary balloting as well as postponement of the most onerous IMF provisions until after the May 25 vote. That way the election will have come and gone before the beleaguered Ukrainians truly understand how painful the IMF austerity will be.

As the New York Times reported, “Senior Western officials said on [March 26] that the loans from the United States and from the I.M.F. would be structured to get the government through its first few months without undue political upheaval, putting off some of the more difficult changes until after the May election. The West has also chosen not to press for early parliamentary elections, one senior official said, because ‘the priority now is stabilization in Kiev and de-escalation with Moscow.’”

Given such bleak economic prospects — and evidence of Western manipulation of the political process – is it any wonder that more than 90 percent of the voters in Crimea opted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ukraine parliament passes austerity bill required by IMF

RT | March 28, 2014

The Ukrainian parliament has adopted an anti-crisis bill proposed by the IMF to secure an international financial aid package. Ordinary Ukrainians will have to tighten their belts to help the coup-installed government keep the collapsing economy afloat.

It took two readings of the bill for 246 MPs out of 321 registered to approve the austerity measures outlined in the legislation dubbed “On prevention of financial catastrophe and creation of prerequisites for economic growth.”

Ahead of the vote, Ukrainian self-imposed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk told the Parliament that it had “no other choice but to accept the IMF offer,” as country fiscal gap in 2014 is projected to reach $26 billion. Ukraine’s Finance Ministry says it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.

“The country is on the edge of economic and financial bankruptcy,” Yatsenyuk said. “This package of laws is very unpopular, very difficult, very tough. Reforms that should have been done in the past 20 years.”

It is ordinary Ukrainians who will suffer the most under the new austerity measures as the floating national currency is likely to push up inflation, while spike in domestic gas prices will impact every household. Under the IMF conditions Kiev has to cut the budget deficit, increase retail energy tariffs, and shift to a flexible exchange rate.

The state-owned energy company Naftogaz already said that it will increase household gas prices by 50 percent starting May 1, while utility companies will see a 40 percent rise as of July. According to estimates, this year Ukraine’s economy will contract by 3 percent while inflation will rise to 14 percent. The government is not planning to raise minimum wages in response to inflation.

The law adopted on Thursday, in particular, introduces a permanent application of the basic rate of corporate income tax at 18 percent and VAT at 20 percent, according to RBC-Ukraine. The government will also cancel the VAT refund for grain exporters.

The bill also introduces a 15 percent tax rate on pension payments if they exceed 10 thousand hryvnas (about $900). This tax, however, won’t really hurt an ordinary Ukrainian pensioner since an average pension in Ukraine is $160 – which may be further cut by 50% for those still working.

A progressive personal income taxation scale has also been installed to charge individuals 15, 17, 20 and 25 percent depending on their earnings. Those persons who make over 1 million hryvnas will be charged 25 percent income tax.

Car enthusiasts will also suffer as taxes on new cars and motorcycles with engine capacity exceeding 0.5 liters will also be doubled. Those who shop online and use overseas retailers will now see lowering of the limit on tax-free imports from 300 to 150 euros.

Excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco will also go up. In 2014 spirits price will see a 39 percent increase, while tobacco products will see a rise of 31.5 percent. Beer lovers will suffer the most with a 42.5 percent rise.

The legislation also reduces the total number of personnel in law enforcement agencies. Almost 80,000 people will be dismissed in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security Service, the Office of the State Guard, and the prosecutor’s office.

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to throw Ukraine’s sinking economy a lifeline provided the country adopts severe austerity measures. According to a preliminary agreement announced by the IMF, it would provide Kiev between $14 and $18 billion in loans over the next two years. Pending final approval by the IMF’s board, Ukraine could get their hands on the first installment as early as April.

“The mission has reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities of Ukraine on an economic reform program that can be supported by a two-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF,” the Fund said in a press release.

A successful deal with the IMF is expected to unleash further $10 billion in loans from other international partners, including the EU and the US. The World Bank is also considering the possibility of providing Ukraine with $1 to $3 billion. Canada, Japan and Poland are also contemplating financial aid.

“The financial support from the broader international community that the program will unlock amounts to US$27 billion over the next two years. Of this, assistance from the IMF will range between US$14-18 billion, with the precise amount to be determined once reforms are in place,” the IMF said.

In Washington, both the Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to provide a $1 billion loan guarantee aid to Ukraine. In addition the Senate bill includes $50 million for democracy building and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation.

“This significant support will help stabilise the economy and meet the needs of Ukrainian people over the long term because it provides the prospect for true growth,” US President Barack Obama said in Rome.

Despite the promised injection of cash into Ukraine, Nikolay Gueorguiev, IMF Mission Chief for Ukraine said that “Nonetheless, the economic outlook remains difficult, with the economy falling back into recession,” he said cited by Kyivpost. “With no current market access, large foreign debt repayments loom in 2014-2015.”

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation has disappeared

The Occidental Observer | March 11, 2014

Editor’s Note: This article by Freeman shows that, despite the presence in the new Ukraine government of the Svoboda nationalists, its president, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (who has three ethnically Jewish grandparents)  is firmly affiliated with neocons, Western economic interests, and prominent figures associated with hostility toward Russia.

Second Editor’s Note, 3/12: The website for Open Ukraine (http://openukraine.org/ua) has reappeared but without the list of partners that so clearly show its sympathies with the neocons and Western NGOs and financial institutions.

By Freeman, translated from German by Michael Colhaze

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Since the 27th of February 2014 Arseniy Yatsenyuk is “prime minister” of the present and entirely illegal regime of Ukraine. As we have learned from the intercepted Nuland – Pyatt telephone conversation, he is the preferred candidate of Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland, which is the reason why the US State Department made him the top echelon of its coup.

Did you know that Mr. Yatsenyuk owns an organization called “Open Ukraine Foundation”? If you do, you might be surprised to learn that all traces of this foundation have been eradicated from the internet. The website of the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation (openukraine.org) and its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Open-Ukraine-Foundation) have simply disappeared. The Wikipedia entry still exists, but the links lead nowhere.

As we know, the Internet forgets nothing and therefore a screen-shot of the website is still on hand. And what do we see there? A list of the foundation’s partners, and looking at it, you may say with some awe that it is an exceptionally impressive collection of the usual suspects. Which, we strongly suspect, must be the reason why the foundation is now defunct and its tracks have been obliterated.

What follows is an extract from the list of partners:

–   Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation  (A Project of the German Marshall Fund)
–   Chatham House
–   NATO Information and Documentation Centre 
–   State Department of the United States of America
–   NED National Endowment for Democracy
–   Horizon Capital
–   Swedbank

With such partners, and in this present scenario, it is small wonder that the page has been deleted. Because it can be clearly seen who stands right behind Mr. Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the coup.

Let us start with the German Marshall Fund, whose Chairman is Guido Goldman. His father, Nahum Goldman, was co-founder of the World Jewish Congress, Chairman of the Jewish Agency and president of the World Zionist Organization. Guido studied at Harvard and one of his teachers was the former presidential security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Henry Kissinger later supervised Guido’s doctoral thesis. The money for the Fund has been approved by the former German finance minister Alex Möller. Who, on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, funded the organization with 150 million German marks for the next 15 years,  ostensibly to promote relations between Europe and the U.S.

This context alone is revealing, since it cites some of the most virulent Russia Haters around.

But let us look at Chatham House. The Foundation, established in 1920, known until 2004 as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a private and world-leading British think tank based in London, whose members engage in study programs, working groups, roundtable conferences and seminars current issues and political events on an international level. The expertise and recommendations created there are circulated by the international members worldwide. Some key projects are funded and sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, NATO or the EU. In addition to the corporate members, consisting of 75 large corporations, plus investment banks, energy companies and 263 other companies, Chatham House currently has 2770 prominent personalities from 75 countries as members, all employed in business, diplomacy, science, politics and the media. A patron of Chatham House is Queen Elizabeth II.

This would sound like an absurd joke, were it not so truly awesome. Because now we understand clearly why the upheaval in Ukraine took place: the supreme fat-cats of the so-called World Elite wanted it to happen.

The NATO chiefs wanted the incorporation of Ukraine into this particular war club, so that missiles can be deployed even closer to Russia. In 2008 NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer paid a visit to Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his Foundation.

The U.S. State Department has been instrumental in the coup, as already mentioned with regard to Victoria Nuland and her now famous injunction. Doling out massive funds, it determined which puppets could join the regime and which not. Whereby that goof Vitali Klitschko got the short straw, just as the abominable noodle Nuland wanted it to happen.

The NED or National Endowment for Democracy is an American foundation with the stated objective to promote democracy worldwide. It is a [neocon front group that] was established in 1983 by the U.S. Congress, and receives its annual funding from the U.S. federal budget. Thus money directly milked from the U.S. taxpayer is diverted for the illegal regime change in Ukraine and many other countries.

This backdrop is very revealing. When Hedge Funds and banks such as Horizon Capital and Swedbank are affiliated with Yatsenyuk’s foundation, it is clear that they are the vultures who are waiting to plunder Ukraine.

Saakashvili and Yatsenyuk at an Open Foundation Meeting

Saakashvili and Yatsenyuk at an Open Foundation Meeting

A good friend of Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his Foundation is Mikheil Saakashvili, the puppet installed by Washington [see here and here], who was allowed to play the President of Georgia from 2004 to 2013. The latest news concerning his person seem to prove that he is also a murderer. According to the Georgian newspaper Asawal – Dasawali he has been involved in the death of former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania of Georgia. The Prosecutor’s Office of Tbilisi has discovered proof of Saakashvili’s direct complicity, the newspaper writes, citing a source within the investigation authority where a secret recording with the audible voice of Saakashvili can be heard ordering: “Get the corpse out of the way and do everything as agreed.”

Yes, such a fine “partner” used to be a guest of honour in the now defunct Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation. Unusual is that even in the Google cache nothing about it can be found anymore.

Now we understand why Arseniy Yatsenyuk has been installed by Merkel and Co, the EU, the NATO and Washington as head of the Ukrainian “government.” He is simply the new puppet intended to implement their interests in Ukraine, but certainly not the interests of the Ukrainian people.

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US will not recognize the annexation of Crimea by Russia

Press TV – March 9, 2014

The US says it will not recognize “the annexation of Crimea by Russia” even if residents of the autonomous region vote to separate from Ukraine in a planned referendum next week.

The Crimean parliament has already voted to join Russia. They also voted to hold a referendum on 16 March to validate the decision. A Yes-vote would most likely further heighten the existing tensions in the already divided nation. The region has an ethnic Russian majority.

A top US national security official Tony Blinken said on Sunday that “First, if there is an annexation of Crimea, a referendum that moves Crimea from Ukraine to Russia, we won’t recognize it, nor will most of the world.”

Blinken, who is US President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told CNN that “Second, the pressure that we’ve already exerted in coordination with our partners and allies will go up. The president made it very clear in announcing our sanctions, as did the Europeans the other day that this is the first step and we’ve put in place a very flexible and very tough mechanism to increase the pressure, to increase the sanctions.”

Blinken was echoing a similar position made by Obama on Thursday that the US would not accept any referendum on the future status of Crimea unless passed with the approval of the interim government in Kiev adding that the proposed referendum would be “unconstitutional” and in violation of “international law.”

Obama is set to meet with Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in Washington on Wednesday. The meeting is seen as a show of support amid a tense stand-off with Russia over the status of Crimea.

Russia has declared its support for Ukraine’s secession movement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Crimea has the right to self-determination while the Speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Valentina Matvienko, said on Friday that Crimea would be welcomed as “an absolutely equal subject of the Russian Federation if a referendum on March 16 was in favor of the move.”

Moscow has also warned against “hasty and reckless steps” that could harm Russian-American relations.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pensions in Ukraine to be halved – sequestration draft

RT | March 6, 2014

The self-proclaimed government in Kiev is reportedly planning to cut pensions by 50 percent as part of unprecedented austerity measures to save Ukraine from default. With an “empty treasury”, reduction of payments might take place in March.

According to the draft document obtained by Kommersant-Ukraine, social payments will be the first to be reduced.

“The Finance Ministry has prepared a plan for optimizing budget expenditures, which implies budget sequestration is to be in force before the end of March. For this purpose, in particular, it has been proposed to reduce capital costs, eliminate tax schemes and preferences and to cut social benefits, for example, 50 percent of pensions to working pensioners,” Kommersant-Ukraine reported.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy reported on December 1, 2013, that an average pension in Ukraine is $160.
Right after the formation, the self-proclaimed government in Kiev announced that the “treasury is empty”.

Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, promised the government would do its best to avoid a default, adding that he expects an EU/IMF economic stabilization package soon. The plan has been formulated in record time, with the government’s strategy ratified in the Ukrainian parliament on February 27, and the document being sent for evaluation to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade on March 3.

The European Commission offered Ukraine an 11 billion euro loan if Kiev agrees a deal with the IMF, European Commission President Jose Barroso announced on Wednesday. As a rule, help from financial organizations such as the IMF or the World Bank normally includes drastic austerity measures.

Accepting IMF money will mean many sacrifices for Ukraine’s economy, which are likely to include increased gas bills, frozen government salaries, and all around budget cuts.

The government in Kiev has already announced sequestration plans from $6.8 to $8.4 billion in 2014.

March 6, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment