Monthly Archives: December 2007

AUR#891 Dec 27 A New Government; Second Chance; Lady In Braids; Cleanse Ukraine of Corruption; Child 44: Ukraine, Village of Chervoy, 25 January 1933

An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer
Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.
Return to Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article
Interfax Ukraine Business Panorama, Kyiv, Ukraine, Mon, Dec 24, 2007
Commentary: By Adrian Karatnycky and Jan Neutze
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Friday, December 21, 2007

U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) Monitoring Service
Complied from a wide variety of news and other sources
Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, December 26, 2007

By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Financial Times
London, UK, Sunday, December 23 2007


BBC Monitoring research in English 11 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Tuesday, December 11, 2007

John Marone, Journalist, Kyiv Ukraine
Eurasian Home, Moscow, Russia, Wed, Dec 19, 2007

BBC Monitoring research in English 7 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, December 7, 2007


Commentary & Analysis: By Bernd Johann
Deutsche Welle website, Bonn, Germany, Wed, December 19, 2007


BBC Monitoring research in English 24 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Thursday, Dec 24, 2007


Internet Press Service of Yulia Tymoshenko
Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, December 20, 2008


BBC Monitoring research in English 24 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Monday, December 24, 2007


Reuters, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, December 20, 2007

BBC Monitoring research in English 24 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Monday, December 24, 2007

Editorial: Financial Times, London, UK, Tuesday, Dec 18 2007

Editorial: Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec 26 2007


MEMORY, Moscow condemns “anti-Russian” attitudes in Kyiv
Analysis & Commentary: By Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 233
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash DC, Monday, Dec 17, 2007

17. ‘CHILD 44’ (Ukraine, Village of Chervoy, 25 January 1933)
Book Excerpt: ‘CHILD 44’: By Tom Rob Smith, A Novel
Courtesy Grand Central Publishing
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Fri, December 21, 2007

Interfax Ukraine Business Panorama, Kyiv, Ukraine, Mon, Dec 24, 2007

KYIV – BYT Leader Yulia Tymoshenko was elected Ukraine’s prime minister

on December 18, with 226 MPs voting for her appointment. Tymoshenko’s nomination was backed by all 156 members of the BYT faction.

Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense MP Ivan Pliusch abstained. Another faction member Ivan Spodarenko, who was earlier in intensive care in a hospital, was
not present at the parliament.

The dismissal of the government of Viktor Yanukovych was also officially announced on December 18. Mykola Shershun, the chairman of the accounting commission, read a protocol of the vote for the dismissal of the government in the Verkhovna Rada. A total of 226 MPs voted to dismiss the Cabinet of Ministers.

On the same day, the Ukrainian parliament appointed the new Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. A total of 227 MPs (including Ivan Pliusch of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense faction, who earlier abstained from voting and who is not a member of the coalition) supported the appointment of the new government, with 226 votes required.

The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on December 18 officially announced the appointment of the new Cabinet of Ministers. Mykola Shershun, the head of the accounting commission of the parliament, read a protocol of the vote on the appointment of the Ukrainian government.

According to the official protocol, 227 MPs voted to appoint the government. The Regions Party, the Communist Party and the Bloc of Lytvyn did not participate in the vote. All of the 156 MPs of the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko’s faction voted to appoint the new government.

A total of 71 out of the 72 MPs of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc backed the decision. Only Ivan Spodarenko did not participate in the vote, as he was in hospital.

Verkhovna Rada Speaker Arseniy Yatseniuk signed a resolution on the appointment of the new Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The newly elected government members took their seats.

The newly appointed members of the government are:

[1] First Deputy Premier Oleksandr Turchynov of the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko;

[2] Deputy Premiers Ivan Vasiunyk (deputy head of the presidential secretariat at present, quota of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense

Bloc) and
[3] Hryhoriy Nemyria of the BYT;

[4] Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko (the first deputy foreign minister at present, the quota of President Viktor Yuschenko);

[5] Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov (MP of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc, the quota of the president);

[6] Finance Minister Viktor Pinzenyk (the finance minister in the government of Yulia Tymoshenko and the government of Yuriy Yekhanurov in 2005-2006,

MP of the BYT, the quota of the BYT);

[7] Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn (corresponding member of the

National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the head of the Council for studies
of the productive forces of Ukraine, the quota of the BYT);

[8] Industry Minister Volodymyr Novitsky (deputy industry minister since August 2006, the quota of the BYT);

[9] Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan (deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, the quota of the BYT);

[10] Coal Minister Viktor Poltavets (coal minister in 1994-1995, the quota of the BYT);

[11] Agriculture Minister Yuriy Melnyk (Agriculture Minister since August 2006, the quota of the BYT);

[12] Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko (MP of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[13] Transport and Communications Minister Yosyp Vinsky (MP of the


[14] Culture and Tourism Minister Vasyl Vovkun (the quota of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[15] Labor and Social Policy Minister Liudmyla Denisova (MP of the BYT);

[16] Health Minister Vasyl Kniazevych (the quota of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[17] Education and Science Minister Ivan Vakarchuk (rector of Lviv Polytekhnika University, the quota of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[18] Construction and Regional Development Minister Vasyl Kuybida (MP

of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[19] Utility and Housing Economy Minister Oleksiy Kucherenko (MP of the

Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[20] Justice Minister Mykola Onischuk (MP of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[21] Family, Sport, and Youth Policy Minister Yuriy Pavlenko (MP of the

Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[22] Environment Protection Minister Heorhiy Filipchuk (MP of the BYT);

[23] Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Shandra (the industry minister in the government of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2005, the quota of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc);

[24] Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers Petro Krupko (MP of the BYT).

Newly appointed Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said her team was starting the process of cleaning corruption out of government.

“We are starting the process of a government cleanup. I will do my utmost to end forever the key role of dirty shadow money in Ukrainian political life, end the practice of buying deputies like cattle at the market. No politician will ever again strive to [steal] easily tens of millions,” she said in a televised address on the Inter TV channel on Thursday.

She said deputy immunity would be canceled within days. “Corrupt deputies will be deprived of deputy powers at congresses of parties,” she said.

Tymoshenko said the leadership of law enforcement agencies and auditing agencies would be replaced. “Those striving to work will be working, those stealing will answer for it,” Tymoshenko said.

Tymoshenko also said her government will fulfill all election promises despite the expected colossal resistance from oligarch and bureaucrats.

“We don’t surrender any of our promises. We are fully responsible for each word, each election promise,” Tymoshenko said on the Inter TV channel on Thursday evening. “We acknowledge colossal resistance from corruptive structures, oligarchic groups, the mid-level of bureaucracy, mercenary experts and political scientists,” she said.

“They will throw billions now to stop our government and destroy the democratic coalition,” Tymoshenko said. Tymoshenko called on Ukrainian citizens not to trust “black propaganda.”

“When I say we will do, we will fulfill, we will introduce order I mean the team of the president, the government, and the democratic coalition at the Verkhovna Rada. I won’t let anybody destroy this unity,” Tymoshenko said.

Former Premier Viktor Yanukovych and the Regions Party on December 21 announced the creation of a shadow government.

Yanukovych became the premier of the shadow government, the press service
of the oppositional government told Interfax-Ukraine.

Besides, the composition of the shadow cabinet was confirmed at a meeting of the opposition on Friday.

The shadow cabinet will consist of Finance Minister Mykola Azarov, Economics Minister Irena Akimova, Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, Interior Minister Mykola Dzhyha, Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boiko, Coal Industry Minister Serhiy Tulub, Transport and Communications Minister Vasyl Kazak, Labor and Social Policy Minister Mykhailo Papiev, Education and Culture Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk, Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko, Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych, Environment Minister Anatoliy Tolstoukhov, Agriculture Minister Viktor Slauta, Communal and Housing Industry Minister Oleksandr Popov, Emergencies Minister Nestor Shufrych, Construction Minister Volodymyr Yatsuba, Industrial Policy Minister Anatoliy Kinakh and Youth, Family and Sports Minister Viktor Korzh.

Serhiy Levochkyn was appointed shadow NBU governor, Inna Bohoslovska –

head of the State Tax Administration of Ukraine.
Posts of culture and health ministries, heads of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Customs Service remain vacant.

The press service said that these posts were secured for other participants of the opposition.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

COMMENTARY: By Adrian Karatnycky and Jan Neutze
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Friday, December 21, 2007

Travel south from Kiev along the arbored R-12 highway and you will see
perhaps the most public symbols of Ukraine’s rampant corruption: a wide
array of luxurious estates that have sprung up in Koncha-Zaspa, a leafy
suburb of the capital.

Many of these multimillion-dollar homes belong to senior state officials
with only modest salaries. Investigative journalists have compiled evidence
suggesting quite a few of these mansions were bought with ill-gotten gains.

This prompted President Viktor Yushchenko to demand in August that the
public servants explain how they came to possess such lavish accommodations.
But at the time his political opponents from the Party of Regions still ran
the government, and they responded to his call for accountability with stony

Ukraine’s graft problems are hardly of recent vintage, though. It was the
massive corruption during the presidency of Leonid Kuchma that helped spark
the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Public anger at large-scale vote buying and voter fraud swept Mr. Yushchenko
and his camp, who promised to rid Ukraine of sleaze, to power. But political
infighting brought down the Orange government under Prime Minister Yulia
Tymoshenko in September 2005 and prevented any real progress on corruption.

Now she has a second chance, after Ukraine’s Orange reformers re-elected her
Tuesday to lead a new government. If the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko team fails
again, the Orange coalition’s hold on power will prove tenuous. More
importantly, corruption could reverse Ukraine’s record of recent economic
growth and even threaten its national security.

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Perception Index ranks
Ukraine 118th out of 180 states. A recent World Bank study on corruption and
good governance shows that after the Orange Revolution, the country actually
slipped from its lower-middle position and now has a worse record than
nearly three-quarters of the countries surveyed.

Practically all sectors of Ukraine’s government, business and civic life are
affected by widespread corruption. Bribery and extortion are particularly
common in Ukraine’s judiciary, where favoritism rather than merit determines
the appointment of judges. Evidence is routinely “lost” at Ukraine’s courts
and bribes can facilitate almost any desired ruling.

In a famous case involving the 2000 murder of journalist and anti-corruption
crusader Heorhiy Gongadze, police destroyed evidence related to the case,
including some that may have implicated a police unit that had been tailing

In 2004, a judge summarily closed the case against a police general who had
ordered the evidence destroyed in what press freedom groups and the
International Union of Journalists denounced as a cover-up.

Similarly, corruption among politicians is rampant. Alleged vote buying of
parliamentarians, who can hide behind extensive immunity rules, has in part
been responsible for the political paralysis plaguing the country over the
past two years.

Corruption has also serious consequences for Ukraine’s national security, as
much of the graft is concentrated in the energy sector. Ukrainian analysts
and investigative reporters assert that massive bribery has played a key
role in perpetuating Ukraine’s overreliance on Russian gas.

Such corruption, experts say, has halted or impaired Ukraine’s efforts to
promote internal energy exploration and diversification. The net effect has
been to expose Ukraine to Russia’s authoritarian influence.

These views are corroborated by Western officials, including U.S. Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State David Kramer who at a talk earlier this month
at Harvard University called on Ukraine to get rid of all “Middlemen
companies” which he said “thrive on non-transparent arrangements
….[,]…fester in a corrupt environment…[and] serve no useful purpose.”
He specifically cited RosUkrEnergo, a Swiss-registered company that plays a
dominant role in gas imports to Ukraine.

There are a number of key steps Ukraine’s reunited Yushchenko-Tymoshenko
tandem should take in the first 100 days of the new government:

[1] Strengthen weak and contradictory anticorruption legislation and update
government ethics codes that are currently ambiguous or absent altogether.

[2] Establish a new judicial chamber, staffed by a new generation of judges
untainted by sleaze.

[3] Create an independent national investigative bureau to uncover and root
out grand corruption.

[4] Eliminate or reduce the scope of parliamentary immunity, which lawmakers
have used to escape prosecution.

[5] Increase transparency by obliging senior public officials and
politicians to publish annual statements of assets and incomes.

Anticorruption campaigns must not become mechanisms of political
retribution. Thus, prosecutions cannot only focus on the activities of
members of the opposition. They must target officials from across the
political spectrum, wherever the evidence leads.
But Ukraine is unlikely to win the battle alone.

The U.S. and the EU need to step up their assistance in helping Ukraine face
this challenge by quickly deploying teams of anti-corruption advisors to
Kiev to work with the new government. If they do, the hopes and aspirations
of the Orange Revolution will be realized and will contribute to the
emergence of a mature and prosperous democracy.
Mr. Karatnycky is president of the Orange Circle and senior scholar at the
Atlantic Council of the U.S. Mr. Neutze is program officer at the German
Marshall Fund of the U.S. They are co-authors of the new Atlantic Council
report “Corruption, Democracy, and Investment in Ukraine.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) Monitoring Service
Complied from a wide variety of news and other sources
Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, December 26, 2007

KYIV – Ukraine’s new Cabinet of Ministers, is composed of 25 nominees of

the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYUT) and NUNS (Our Ukraine – People’s
Defense bloc) plus two ministers constitutionally-mandated to the president, and
four ministers for whom no party/bloc affiliation is shown in the initial

While BYUT and NUNS are fairly balanced so far as numbers of ministries, the
strongest ministries are all in the hands on BYUT. Moreover, the evidence
strongly suggests that the Cabinet was composed with an eye toward keeping
the spotlight on the prime minister.

The first and most evident change in the new Cabinet, when comparing it to
its immediate predecessor, is the number of vice prime ministers, less than
half the previous number.

In addition, there is no specific designation of areas of responsibility for
either of the vice prime ministers. Judging from the backgrounds of the
VPMs, it appears possible they will serve as troubleshooters who will deal
with problems on an assignment basis.

[1] First Vice Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov – long-time Tymoshenko
confidant Turchynov served as Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) head in the
previous Tymoshenko government until he was forced out after Tymoshenko’s

Turchynov stated publicly after his removal in an RFE/RL interview that
President Viktor Yushchenko himself ordered a halt to some of the SBU’s

This is considered of importance because of the current very bad public odor
of RosUkrEnergo, the intermediary that handles gas deliveries to Ukraine.
Turchynov said that an SBU investigation had led to plans to arrest Yuriy
Boyko, the former head of Naftohaz Ukrainy.

Turchynov stated that Yushchenko told him in mid-August 2005 to stop
“persecuting my men” and that the investigation of RosUkrEnergo was
“creating a conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

In many previous governments, the first vice prime minister has been given
responsibility for the fuel-energy sector but it is unclear if this pattern
will obtain in the new government. Some observers suggest that keeping
Turchynov out of this area may have been a part of the deal-cutting that
finally saw the second Tymoshenko government approved.

[2] Vice Prime Minister Ivan Vasyunyk – Vasyunyk, closely associated

with Yushchenko as deputy chief of staff in the Yushchenko premiership,
also has been near the top in the Yushchenko presidential secretariat.

He should be considered the president’s top representative in the new
government. Long associated with the Institute of Reforms, Vasyunyk is

also close to FinMin Pynzenyk. Vasyunyk has been in on the action for
some time and is expected to continue his active role for the President.

[3] Vice Prime Minister Grygoriy Nemyria – considered by many one of the
brightest stars in the new Cabinet, Nemyria brings to the Cabinet a very
sharp mind and excellent political skills.

He is generally regarded as the principal architect of Tymoshenko’s
parliamentary election success and is expected to have very substantial
impact on Tymoshenko’s decision-making.

He has been and is likely to remain the man at Tymoshenko’s elbow in
difficult situations requiring speedy and correct decisions. His
effectiveness as an international press spokesman and in dealing with
international political and trade matters is enhanced considerably by his
fluent command of English. He is well known in Washington and

has made an excellent impression there.
Hopefully VMP Nemyria will find a way for the Tymoshenko government
to solve the long-running issue between the U.S. government’s Overseas
Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the government of Ukraine.
The economic development programs of OPIC has been closed for
Ukraine for some time because of the lack of response from the
government of Ukraine.

[4] Minister of Science and Education Ivan Vakarchuk – the 60 year old
Vakarchuk is highly regarded as an intellectual and education expert, hold
a Ph.D. in physics. A nominee of Our Ukraine – People defense bloc, is
expected to be a strong voice for spending on education, particularly
Ukraine’s universities. A nominee of the Our Ukraine – People’s Defense

[5] Minister of Transport Yosyp Vinsky – a former member of the Rada’s
Socialist bloc who was expelled for his disagreement with Moroz’s actions

in 2006 that led to Yanukovych’s return as prime minister.

He joins the Cabinet as a BYuT nominee and will take over the ministry is
extremely important financially and politically because of its immense
ownership of state assets and its importance in implementing some of the
promises made for Euro-2012. Since leaving the Socialists, has become a
Tymoshenko loyalist.

This is a key ministry in terms of Ukraine’s economic development and
strong leadership is needed. Ukraine air safety laws do not meet
international standards and need to be brought in line with such standards

[6] Minister of Culture and Tourism Vasyl Vovkun — a nominee of Our
Ukraine – People defense bloc, Vovkun’s agency has usually been an
underfunded backwater. However, the agency takes greater prominence

with his appointment and should attract substantially greater funding in
the buildup to Euro-2012.
Vovkun is very close to President Yushchenko and has produced and
managed many large functions and events for the President and the
Presidential Administration. He is a strong personality and knows how to
get things accomplished quickly….is a can-do person. Vovkun is expected
to be a very strong Minister of Culture and to bring new life and vitality to
this Ministry.

[7] Minister of the Economy Bogdan Danylyshyn – A noted academician,
Danylyshyn was head of the Council on Productive Forces Studies of the
National Academy of Sciences.

He is a co-author of a wide range of important government documents, such as
the Strategic Evaluation and Recommendations on the National Environmental
Policy of Ukraine.

Danylyshyn is thought to have been for quite some time very closely allied
with Vitaliy Hayduk, former National Security Council head and co-owner of
The Industrial Union of Donbas, which may provide a considerable insight
into the appointment of this non-political academician into one of the most
critical jobs in government.

[8] Minister of Labor and Social Policy Lydmyla Denysova – A BYuT nominee,
Denysova is close to Tymoshenko, who considers Denysova a great specialist
in pension reform. Educated as a teacher, Denysova worked as a kindergarten

However, she went on to become one of the most influential people in the
Autonomous Republic of Crimea, serving at various times as Economy

Minister, Finance Minister, and Head of State Treasury Administration.

Also, she was involved in private business, serving as head of the
supervisory board of Gumatex corporation, a manufacturer of technological
textiles. She and the Crimean businessman and television station owner,
Andriy Senchenko, were early supporters of Tymoshenko in Crimea in 2005.

[9] Minister of Defense Yuri Yekhanurov – in one of the two ministries still
controlled directly by the president, Yekhanurov is a highly regarded
professional who has served in a wide range of top positions, including
about a year as prime minister, succeeding Tymoshenko when she was fired.

Yekhanurov has little previous experience in defense, but is considered a
highly competent manager and is a Yushchenko confidant.

[10] Minister of Health Vasyl Knyazevych – a 51 year old medical doctor –
graduate of Ivano-Frankivsk Medical University, with a long history in
hands-on medical practice with increasing levels of responsibility until he
joined the State Affairs Administration in 2005, later being promoted to
deputy head of that agency.

Said to be well-liked in the medical community, he also has a friend at
court; he has been President Yushchenko’s personal physician. He is a Our
Ukraine – People’s Defense nominee.

[11] Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers Petro Krupko – Krupko returns to a
position he held previously – he served later as deputy justice minister –
with one of the most complete financial disclosures among nominees. He and
his immediate family is reported to have earned 575,258.19 UAH in 2007 from
a number of sources.

A BYuT, this position usually calls for someone close to the PM – Krupko
qualifies in that regard – who is capable of being the enforcer of the PM’s
policies among the ministries.

[12] Minister of Reg’nl Development/Construction Vasyl Kuybida – Kuybida a
former Lviv mayor, is considered an expert on local governance. Born in
Russia into a family of political prisoners in 1958, he graduated in applied
mathematics and mechanics, and was leading engineer at “Ukrcivilproekt”

A founder of the Ukrainian Language Society and Rukh, Kiybida was elected
mayor of Lviv in 1994, re-elected in 1998.

A strong internationalist [he speaks English, Czech, Polish and Bulgarian]
and writer, he is a member of the national commission on UNESCO affairs, the
author of several books of poetry, and hold state awards from Ukraine,
Lithuania and the Vatican.

[13] Minister of Household and Utilities Infrastructure Oleksiy Kucherenko –
Born Vinnytsya, 1961, studied computer science and applied mathematics as
undergraduate before taking Ph.D. in Institute of Sociology.

Worked in increasingly responsible positions including head of Zaporizhya
state administration; president of “AvtoKRAZ” holding company, one of
Ukraine’s leading trucks manufacturers; head of State committee of Household
and Utilities; long time deputy chair of the Rada Committee of fuel and
energy complex, nuclear policy and safety. A nominee of Our Ukraine –

People’s Defense bloc.

[14] Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko – Born 1954, Rivne;
graduate in electrical engineering from Lviv Polytech; became chief designer
at Rivne’s Hazotron plant before becoming involved in politics.

From a strong Communist family [his father Vitaly Lutsenko, had been
secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Ukraine], Lutsenko
was active in Socialists [1996 – 1998 – Secretary of Social Party of Ukraine
political council].

Became Minister of Internal Affairs as nominee of Socialists, but in 2006
broke with Socialists; later became head of Our Ukraine – Peoples Defense
bloc. Expected to be (or attempt to be) an agent of change in a ministry
that doesn’t deal well with changes.

[15] Minister of Agrarian Policy Yuri Melnyk – Born 1962 in Cherkasy region;
long history of study [Ph.D. in Agrarian Science] and work in agriculture,
primarily livestock, cattle breeding and dairy; held increasingly
responsible positions in Ag Ministry; made vice prime minister in Oct 2005;
Aug 2006 made Ag Policy Minister. Only member of the Yanukovych cabinet

to remain in place….has supported severe grain export controls and other
non-market agricultural polices in the past. Hopefully this will change.

[16] Minister of Industrial Policy Volodymyr Novytskiy – Novytskiy is a
specialist in technical processing of oil and gas with a Ph.D . in the field.
Has seen long service in the ministry he now heads, moves up from a position
as deputy minister.

[17] Minister of Justice Mykola Onischuk – Born 1957, Zhytomyr region; law
grad of Kyiv’s Shevchenko State University. Earned Ph.D. in legal science
and has published over 40 scientific publications on legal regulation of
economic relations.

As Rada member, he was the first Deputy Head of Verkhovna Rada Committee

on legal policy and worked repeatedly as a member of temporary investigation
commissions, including investigation of possible financial support of 2004
presidential election by Russian tycoon Borys Berezovsky.

[18] Minister of Foreign Affairs Volodymyr Ogryzko – considered one of the
most competent foreign affairs professionals in recent years, Ogryzko was
previously nominated for the job by Yushchenko, but the nomination was
rejected twice by the parliament. The turndown was considered more a jab at
Yushchenko than any question about Ogryzko’s highly regarded competence.

Under Ogryzko, the foreign ministry is expected to be run in a highly
organized and professional way, doing everything possible to avoid the
political battles that sank a recent predecessor, Borys Tarasyuk. Even so,
Ogryzko will be a lightning rod for the opposition because of his strong
support of NATO membership and other westward looking initiatives.

[19] Minister of Family, Sports and Youth Yuriy Pavlenko – Born 1975 in
Kyiv; master’s degree from the Presidential Academy in state governance;
laster degree in this field from North London University. Worked in wide
range of public relations and event management positions; October 1995 till
March 1997 – journalist, commentator, presenter of “TV-Tabachuk” studio.

Appointed a Minister of Family, Sports and Youth, Sept 2005; August 4,
2006 – March 1, 2007 -the second term on a Minister of Family, Sports and

[20] Minister of Finance Viktor Pynzenyk – Was founder and long-time head of
the Institute of Reforms. Very well known and with years of previous Cabinet
experience, Pynzenyk has become closer to Tymoshenko recently and is
expected to be a loyal and effective spear carrier in this government.

He has the major advantage of being on a first name basis with many in the
United States and European governments. Minister Pynzenyk needs to find

a way to solve Ukraine’s non-payment of VAT refunds quickly.
Several large agricultural trading companies for instance are owned over
$250 million with payment falling up to one year behind. Ukraine is the
worst country in the world in terms of paying back VAT refunds. This
needs to change immediately.
Hopefully Pynzenyk will be the person to find a way to stop the massive
corruption and non-repayment of VAT found today in Ukraine.

[21] Minister of Coal Industry Viktor Poltavets – Born 1937. Considered a
legendary figure person in Ukrainian coal industry; organizer of several
world records in coalmining during USSR. Holder of several academic degrees
and served as a Minister of Coalmining of USSR. Later, built up the coalmine
industry in Vietnam.

Was Ukraine’s minister of coal industry in 1995-95, but resigned because of
government inaction. Since November 1999, worked as a Director of
“Luhanskdiproshakht”, State project institute for projection of coal
industry enterprises.

[22] Minister of Fuel and Energy Yuriy Prodan – Born 1959; Norilsk, Russia.
Graduate in electric station engineering; followed by decades of work in all
field of electrical engineering. Most recently: 2001-2004 – The Head of
National commission of on Electric energy regulation; 2005-2006 – First
Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy, president of Energokompaniya Ukrayiny.

Prior to becoming minister, was deputy secretary of National Security and
Defense Council (NSDC). While working in NSDC criticized the Ministry of
Yuriy Boyko for the initiative directed at electricity prices reduction for
large industrial companies.

[23] Minister of Environmental Protection Georgiy Filipchuk – Born 1950 in
Chernivtsi region. Graduate teacher of history with long experience in
classrooms. Was Yushchenko’s confidant during presidential elections in
2004. Since 2005 General Director of Ukrainian scientific research center
for the issues of standardization, certification and quality.

[24] Minister of Emergencies/Chernobyl Consequences Volodymyr Shandra –

Born 1963, Ternopil region. Graduate, nuclear power-stations department of
Moscow engineering physics institute, worked his way up to lead engineer for
reactor control. From November, 1992 to June, 1998 he was a director of
Small Enterprise “Shar”, Slavuta town.

June, 1998 – April, 2002 – head of the board of Slavuta Ruberoid plant. Was
Minister of Industrial Policy under the Tymoshenko and Yekhanurov

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Financial Times
London, UK, Sunday, December 23 2007

Yulia Tymoshenko, the newly appointed prime ­minister of Ukraine, has
pledged that her pro-western governing coalition will seek to “harmonise”
relations with Moscow

Many observers expected the charismatic 47-year old, who was appointed last
week, to shake up bilateral relations between Kiev and Moscow. Relations
between the countries have been strained since the Orange Revolution of

The trigger, many thought, would be her plans to cut intermediaries out of
the multi-billion-dollar natural gas trade between Ukraine, Russia and
central Asian suppliers.

However, in a Financial Times interview, Ms Tymoshenko expressed confidence
that the Kremlin was ready to adopt a more transparent gas supply
arrangement with Kiev, whose vast pipeline system pumps the majority of
Russian supplies to Europe.

As proof, she pointed to public comments made on the issue in recent months
by Dmitri Medvedev, the presidential favourite backed by Vladimir Putin,
Russia’s outgoing president.

“The leading presidential candidate in Russia, Mr Medvedev, publicly said
that the Russian side is not set on any shadowy intermediaries. He said that
they are ready to do away with these intermediaries,” she said.

At stake is the position of Swiss-registered company RosUkrEnergo, which
controls the supply of central Asian gas to Ukraine and significant sales to
European markets. The company is owned equally by Russian gas group
Gazprom and two Ukrainian businessmen, Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin.

Ms Tymoshenko has called for direct gas supply agreements between Gazprom
and Ukraine’s state energy group, Naftogaz. US officials have backed her in
criticising the role of intermediaries such as RosUkrEnergo, insisting they
pose an energy security risk to Ukraine and Europe, which is itself
dependent on Russia for more than a quarter of its gas needs.

While reasserting her resolve on the issue, Ms Tymoshenko pledged to seek
pragmatic talks with Moscow in order to avoid a repeat of the 2006 gas price
stand-off that disturbed supplies to Europe.

“I have not returned as premier to strain relations with Russia – this is
not my intention. I will strive to establish a relationship of equal
partnership,” she said.

Ms Tymoshenko regained her position as the country’s premier after a strong
showing in snap elections held in September. A previous 2005 stint as prime
minister was cut short after a bitter falling out with Viktor Yushchenko,
whose presidential candidacy she backed during the 2004 elections.

The premier said her new governing coalition would strive to seek compromise
with a strong opposition in order to consign to the past years of paralysis
that have plagued Kiev’s politics.

She said her priorities would be to fight corruption and to adopt concrete
reforms that would bring Kiev closer to its long-term goals of joining the
European Union and the Nato military alliance.

Ms Tymoshenko’s cabinet is working ahead of the new year to address an array
of pressing problems. Topping the list is sky-high inflation, expected to
finish the year at more than 15 per cent.

Ms Tymoshenko is rushing to pass a budget for 2008 before the end of the
year as well as attempting to prevent a technical default on Eurobonds
issued to investors by Naftogaz.

“It is very difficult to bring in a completely new government just a week
before the new year, evermore so considering that so many problems have
piled up. We will probably break the Guinness World Records by adopting a
new budget within several days,” she said.

Ms Tymoshenko was quick to assign the blame for the problems her cabinet
will face on the previous governing coalition led by Viktor Yanukovich, her
predecessor as prime minister.

She said she aimed to have the budget passed this week as well as the swift
adoption of state guarantees on debt obligations in order to reassure
increasingly edgy investors with debt interests in Naftogaz.

However, with her coalition controlling only a hairline majority in
parliament, the opposition, led by Mr Yanukovich, is a formidable force that
could complicate such plans.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC):

BBC Monitoring research in English 11 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Yuliya Tymoshenko, the charismatic Ukrainian politician who has been
appointed prime minister for the second time, has long been an uneasy ally
of President Viktor Yushchenko.

A driving force in the Orange Revolution that brought Yushchenko to power on
a pro-Western platform in 2004, Tymoshenko rapidly eclipsed Yushchenko in
popularity among the country’s “orange” electorate and is widely seen as a
likely future challenger for the presidency.

Tymoshenko was nominated for the post by the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and the
propresidential Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence, which together won a
narrow majority in an early parliamentary election on 30 September.

It took Tymoshenko two votes in parliament to be appointed prime minister.
She fell one vote short of the 226-vote majority on 11 December, so
Yushchenko had to nominate her for the post again. She was eventually
appointed on 18 December, with exactly 226 MPs voting in her favour.

Yushchenko appointed Tymoshenko as prime minister for the first time in
January 2005, but relations between the two were strained from the start.
Eight months later, Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko as well as a number of
officials from his inner circle amid mutual accusations of corruption.

As prime minister, Tymoshenko was regularly accused of populism and
employing “administrative” methods in contrast to Yushchenko’s more
free-market approach.

Ahead of the 2006 election, Tymoshenko advocated a “third way” ideology
between capitalism and socialism, which she called “solidarism”. More
recently, Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party has built ties with the
transnational centre-right European People’s Party.

After the 2006 parliamentary election, Tymoshenko looked set to regain the
prime minister’s post at the head of a renewed Orange coalition. However,
the rival Party of Regions set up a coalition with left-wing parties.
Tymoshenko immediately called on Yushchenko to dissolve parliament. She
eventually achieved this goal on 2 April, when Yushchenko called the early
Yuliya Tymoshenko (maiden name Hryhyan) was born in Dnipropetrovsk in 1960.
After graduating from the economics faculty of Dnipropetrovsk university,
Tymoshenko initially worked as an engineer-economist at the city’s Lenin
machine-building plant. While still a teenager, she married Oleksandr
Tymoshenko. Their daughter, Yevheniya, is married to a British rock

In the late 1980s, the Tymoshenkos launched a video-distribution business in
Dnipropetrovsk. From 1991, Yuliya Tymoshenko headed the Ukrayinskyy

Benzyn (Ukrainian Petrol) Corporation, which sold fuel and lubricants in
Dnipropetrovsk Region.

Tymoshenko emerged as a major force in the country’s energy sector in the
mid-1990s, when she headed United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), a
company that imported Russian gas and sold Ukrainian goods in Russia.

Due to the huge revenues the company generated, Tymoshenko became known

as the “gas princess”. In 1997, UESU ran into problems with Ukrainian tax
authorities. A number of the company’s officials, including Oleksandr
Tymoshenko, subsequently faced prosecution for financial irregularities.
In 1996, Tymoshenko entered parliament at a by-election in a Kirovohrad
Region constituency. She was initially associated with the opposition
Hromada party led by former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who later fled
to the USA where he was found guilty of money laundering. In 1999,
Tymoshenko set up her own party called Fatherland (Batkivshchyna).

In December 1999, Tymoshenko was appointed Deputy Prime Minister for Fuel
and Energy in the reformist government of Viktor Yushchenko. Tymoshenko was
credited with doing much to clean up the country’s corruption-ridden
electricity distribution market. She was sacked in January 2001 by President
Leonid Kuchma. Soon after, she was accused of fraud and spent several months
in jail, before a Kiev court ordered her release.

Tymoshenko’s bloc made it into parliament in 2002. Tymoshenko often accused
Viktor Yushchenko, whose Our Ukraine bloc was also in opposition, of not
being radical enough and willing to strike a deal with the authorities. But
ahead of the November 2004 presidential election, she threw her support
behind Yushchenko.

After the Moscow-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the
election winner, Tymoshenko played a key role in the Orange Revolution
protests to reverse the official result, appearing regularly alongside
Yushchenko on Kiev’s Independence Square.
Viktor Yushchenko’s victory in a repeat election was followed by rivalry
between Tymoshenko and businessman Petro Poroshenko – another key Orange
figure – for the post of prime minister. It was eventually secured by
Tymoshenko, who said this had been the precondition of her support for
Yushchenko in the run-up to the election.

Tymoshenko’s premiership failed to usher in a revival of Ukraine’s economic
fortunes. On the contrary, economic growth slowed down and investment went
into a decline. As head of government, Tymoshenko was often accused of
exercising overly strict and “anti-market” regulation. Another
characteristic was her drive to review questionable privatizations of the
1990s, which made investors uneasy.

With in-fighting in the Orange team becoming ever more apparent, Yushchenko
sacked Tymoshenko’s cabinet in September 2005 amid a bitter row over
allegations of corruption in the president’s inner circle.
In the run-up to the 2006 parliamentary election, Tymoshenko was highly
critical of both the government of her successor, Yushchenko-loyalist Yuriy
Yekhanurov, and the Yanukovych-led opposition.

Contrary to most predictions, Tymoshenko’s bloc came second after the Party
of Regions with 22.29 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the
propresidential Our Ukraine bloc.

With Tymoshenko demanding the post of prime minister for herself and some
elements in Our Ukraine more or less openly seeking a grand coalition with
the Party of Regions, negotiations to reform an Orange coalition dragged on
for months and eventually collapsed as the Socialists crossed the floor to
join the Yanukovych’s coalition.

After the formation of the coalition, Tymoshenko pushed for Yushchenko to
dissolve parliament. In a move possibly calculated to compel the president
to do so, her bloc in January 2007 voted with the coalition to overcome a
presidential veto on a new law on the Cabinet of Ministers that further
limited presidential powers.

Tymoshenko welcomed Yushchenko’s dissolution decree and backed him
throughout the ensuing crisis despite evidence of continuing personal
differences. She and the majority of MPs from her faction gave up their
seats to provide the formal grounds for the dissolution of parliament.

In the 30 September election, Tymoshenko’s bloc again did much better than
expected, coming a close second to the Party of Regions with 30.14 per cent
of the vote, while Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence gained only 14.15 per

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

John Marone, Journalist, Kyiv Ukraine
Eurasian Home, Moscow, Russia, Wed, Dec 19, 2007

Yulia Tymoshenko was approved as Ukrainian prime minister on December 18.
This marks the beginning of Ms. Yulia’s second stint as head of government.
She was nominated both times by pro-Western president Viktor Yushchenko,
whom she helped rise to power during the country’s 2004 Orange Revolution,
and then hold on to authority during this year’s power struggle.

But, since there can be only one Ukrainian head of state, the lady in braids
may end up helping Mr. Yushchenko out of office during the country’s next
presidential elections in 2009.

Personal ambitions aside, the December 18 vote in parliament also marks the
reunification of Orange power in Ukraine. Eastern-oriented Viktor
Yanukovych, whose presidential dreams were dashed by Yushchenko and
Tymoshenko during the mass street protests of 2004, is now back in

Yanukovych had been bullying executive power away from the mild-mannered
Yushchenko ever since last year’s parliamentary elections allowed him to
form a coalition with leftist defectors from the Orange camp. Only with
support from Tymoshenko was Yushchenko able to push through fresh
elections in September, yielding a new Orange parliamentary majority.

But the new Orange coalition is paper thin (227 out of 450 seats), and a
half-dozen or so Yushchenko loyalists within it have made no secret of their
hostility toward Tymoshenko. Yushchenko has tried to remain above the dog
fight in the legislature, but no one has forgotten that it was he who ended
Tymoshenko’s first term as premier in September 2005, laying the ground
work for Yanukovych’s return to power a year later.

Facing a numerous and openly hostile opposition, a president eager to
blemish her reputation among Orange voters in the run up to next year’s
presidential poll, and treachery in her own ranks, Ms. Tymoshenko could be
forgiven for treading carefully along the country’s much needed path of

Instead, the lady in braids appears defiant of the gauntlet of political
adversaries who line her path toward greater power, confidently making her
way toward the center stage of public attention, from which she has always
drawn her political strength.

Branded as a populist, Tymoshenko has promoted policies no less reformist
and pro-Western than those of Mr. Yushchenko. Under Yanukovych, who
enjoys much warmer relations with Moscow than either Orange leader,
Ukraine’s liberal reforms have ground to a halt.

Tymoshenko now wants to push forward with reforms and quickly, if for no
other reason than to show voters that she is a servant of the people rather
than a protector of the elite.

Under Yushchenko, Ukrainians have enjoyed unprecedented civil liberties and
economic growth, but the president also turned the constitution into a
minefield, while allowing the courts to lose any semblance of respectability
that they may have once enjoyed.

Such problems will take a lengthy, and more importantly, bilateral effort to
resolve. That’s why election-minded Yulia is concentrating on what at least
appear to be more readily achievable goals.

For example, Ms. Tymoshenko promised on December 18 that Ukraine would join
the World Trade Organization “very soon.” Yanukovych as well as Yushchenko
have promised the same, but the deadline has kept getting pushed back.

With most if not all obstacles to WTO entry already overcome, Tymoshenko
could hardly accept the credit for success, but Euro-friendly Ukrainians
would probably give it to her anyway.

One prominent issue that Tymoshenko could call her own is the fight to clean
up Ukraine’s shady gas sector, which is inexplicably entrenched with
middlemen who profit at the expense of the state.

“My position remains unchanged, there cannot be middlemen on the gas
market,” she told a news conference on December 18. Unlike WTO entry,
however, making gas imports from Russia to Ukraine more transparent treads
on a lot more well heeled feet.

Other policies advocated by Tymoshenko’s team are more controversial,
leaving the braided lady open to charges of pandering to the masses. For
example, Tymoshenko has promised to immediately end army conscription,
instead of phasing it out over the next two years as proposed by the

She also vowed to return the savings lost by Ukrainians to the inflation
that hit the country after the fall of the Soviet Union, without explaining
where she’ll get the money.

On one of the most controversial issues of all in Ukraine – NATO
membership – Tymoshenko seems to have outsmarted both Yanukovych and
Yushchenko. Yanukovych has called for an immediate referendum, which
Yushchenko supporters say should be preceded by a fair public information
campaign. Tymoshenko, who has positioned herself as somewhat less
pro-American than Yushchenko, also supports a referendum but has not
specified when it should be held.

However, it’s not policy that determines a Ukrainian leader’s chances for
power, but the other way around. In her rise to power, Yulia has decided to
keep one opponent at a distance – her declared enemy Yanukovych – while
allowing the other to lead her up the isle to center stage, as she steals
the show from under his arm.

Yanukovych and the well-organized band of lawmakers that he leads in the
parliament have for their part made no secret of their hostility toward
Tymoshenko, whom they have publicly characterized as reckless.

”In my opinion, the election of Tymoshenko as premier will deepen political
instability and unfortunately facilitate confrontation in society,” the
outgoing premier said during his own news conference on December 18.

After it had become clear that the two Orange parties (Tymoshenko’s BYuT and
Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense, which Yushchenko sponsored) could form a
coalition on the basis of the early elections held on September 30,
Yanukovych’s team did everything they could to stall the formation of a new
government for over two months.

Moreover, Tymoshenko’s first confirmation vote on December 11 came up short
for what BYuT members said was technical tampering with the parliament’s
electronic voting system.

Even now, as Tymoshenko settles into her new job, Yanukovych’s Regions
party, together with its Communists allies from the last coalition, remains
defiant. ”We are convinced that the existence of a coalition of 227 [seats
held by Orange parties in parliament] will not last for long. The people of
Ukraine will oust the populists like they throw out garbage during spring
cleaning,” reads a press release from Yanukovych’s office.

The president, who went from staunch Orange loyalist to distant inter-party
arbitrator following the September 30, denied any double dealing in the
coalition forming process, which he was accused of following the 2006
parliamentary elections that brought Yanukovych to power.

”All suspicions of duplicity have been proven unfounded. The government
has gotten a leader, and the country – hope for an effective new government
team,” Yushchenko said on December 18.

At the same time, Yushchenko, who will control the new Cabinet’s defense
and foreign ministries, made it clear that he would hold his Orange
colleague publicly accountable during her term in office. ”Society wants to

see real implementation of electoral promises … The coalition has been given
a clear field to act, and the actions of the majority as well as the
Cabinet,” he said.

However, unlike Yushchenko, Ms. Yulia has yet to miss an opportunity to act
and has rarely misread her voters. If Yushchenko and Yanukovych cannot do
the same, they had better make way for the lady in braids.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

BBC Monitoring research in English 7 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, December 7, 2007

In a six-year career in public service, newly-elected parliament speaker
Arseniy Yatsenyuk has worked as foreign minister, deputy head of the
presidential secretariat, Ukraine’s economics minister, Crimean economics
minister, acting chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) and deputy
head of the Odessa regional state administration.

Born in Chernivtsi in 1974, Yatsenyuk graduated from the law department of
Chernivtsi University and the economics department of Kiev Trade and
Economics University. He founded a law firm while still a student.

In 1998, Yatsenyuk moved to Kiev to work for Aval Bank, first as a
consultant with the lending department and then as deputy board chairman.

In late 2001, Yatsenyuk left Aval Bank to join the government of Crimean
Prime Minister Valeriy Horbatov as economics minister. Yatsenyuk was
reportedly viewed as a star of the government, winning plaudits for his
clarity of expression and organizational skills.

When Serhiy Tyhypko was appointed head of the NBU in late 2002, Yatsenyuk
was recalled to Kiev to work as his first deputy. When Tyhypko took leave to
run the presidential campaign of then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in
July 2004, Yatsenyuk became acting NBU head.

During the crisis that followed the disputed second round of the election,
Yatsenyuk impressed many with his performance when he managed to maintain
the stability of the country’s banking system despite the political turmoil.
He insisted that the NBU would remain politically neutral and boasted that
the bank was working like a “Swiss clock” at the time.

After Tyhypko quit as NBU head, Yatsenyuk was poised to replace him, but, a
former NBU head close to President Viktor Yushchenko, Volodymyr Stelmakh,
got the post.

In February 2005, Yatsenyuk together with the NBU’s deputy board chairman,
Oleksandr Shlapak, and the director of the general department, Vadym
Pushkaryov, submitted their resignations citing differences with Stelmakh
over the future development of the domestic banking system.

In March 2005, Yatsenyuk was appointed deputy to the then Odessa regional
governor, Vasyl Tsushko.

On 27 September 2005 Yatsenyuk was appointed Ukraine’s economics minister.
In an interview shortly after the appointment, he said that the economy was
in a poor state and promised to do everything possible to restore stability.

As economics minister, Yatsenyuk was praised for a tough stance in talks
with the EU on anti-dumping duties on the import of Ukrainian pipes, which
resulted in the duty’s decrease by 2 per cent.

Yatsenyuk also managed to talk the Russians into the complete abolition of a
similar duty. A breakthrough in the talks with the USA on Ukraine’s joining
the WTO was also believed to be Yatsenyuk’s success.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s faith in Yatsenyuk as a promising
politician became evident on 20 September 2006 when Yatsenyuk was

appointed deputy head of the presidential secretariat and the president’s
representative to the Cabinet of Minister of Ukraine. On 25 September 2006,
Yushchenko signed a decree making Yatsenyuk responsible for supervision of
the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Such a show of faith gave grounds to suppose that, by granting Arseniy
Yatsenyuk such powers and giving him control over spheres in which he had

no experience, the president was bringing him to the forefront of Ukrainian
politics and preparing Yatsenyuk for higher offices.

This proved to be true on 20 March 2007, when Yushchenko nominated

Yatsenyuk for the post of Ukrainian foreign minister after the ruling coalition had
twice rejected the candidacy of career diplomat Volodymyr Ohryzko. On 21
March 2007, 426 MPs in the 450-seat parliament confirmed Yatsenyuk as
foreign minister.

He is a state official of the first rank and has the rank of ambassador.
Yatsenyuk’s election as parliament speaker on 4 December made him the
youngest chairman of the Supreme Council (parliament) in Ukraine’s recent
history and one of the youngest parliament leaders in the world.

This fact triggered a flurry of media reports about his amazing career,
family, childhood, interests and hobbies. Yatsenyuk is married and has two
daughters. He reportedly loves cars (he drives a Skoda and a Mercedes) and
electronic gadgets, from cell phones to laptops.

He is fond of classical Ukrainian literature and speaks fluent English. He
is very modest about food and, as foreign minister, often flew economy
class. As speaker, he drives without a police escort.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.

Deutsche Welle website, Bonn, Germany, Wed, December 19, 2007

Ukraine has a new government after Yulia Tymoshenko was elected Prime
Minister by a single vote. But DW’s Bernd Johann says that’s not going

change much for the troubled country.

The majority enjoyed by Tymoshenko as Ukraine’s new prime minister could

not be any slimmer, and the popular, if controversial politician only succeeded
in getting elected on her second attempt.

Those aren’t good signs for the coalition between the “Block of Yulia
Tymoshenko” and the “Our Ukraine” electoral alliance led by Ukrainian
President Victor Yushchenko. And it’s difficult to see Victor Yanukovich’s
Party of Regions being content to remain in the opposition for the duration
of the legislative period.

The ongoing problem in Ukraine is that its deeply divided class of
politicians is unable to translate the will of voters into governance. As in any
democracy, those who can muster a majority in parliament are supposed to

form a government. And those in the opposition have a responsibility to
watch over that government and offer political alternatives.

But there is ample reason to fear that the new parliament will not be able
to live up to either of those responsibilities. That would mean Ukrainian
voters would come out on the losing end.

Yulia Tymoshenko previously served as her country’s prime minister for a
couple of months after the so-called Orange Revolution during the winter of

Together with President Yushchenko, she was supposed to fight corruption and
nepotism, enact democratic reforms and improve the country economically and

But few results were achieved. The alliance between Tymoshenko and
Yushchenko ended in fighting and estrangement. And since then the two

camps have never been able to reach a rapprochement.

In the run-up to this most recent election, some politicians in Yushchenko’s
alliance openly speculated about whether to enter once again into a
coalition with Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. Coalition discipline forced

these dissenters to vote for Tymoshenko. But, it is questionable whether that
discipline can be maintained.
The Party of Regions will try to exploit the faults in the current governing
coalition. Yanukovich’s party remains the largest faction in the Ukrainian
parliament, even if it did lose votes in absolute terms in September’s

The party doesn’t give any impression that it will settle for a role in the
opposition. Instead, it seems bent on a policy of obstruction and

Those policies were in ample evidence in recent days in Ukraine’s
parliament, as members of the party boycotted the vote on Tymoshenko’s

That is hardly a form of constructive opposition. On the contrary, it
violates the rules of a functioning democracy.

And the electorate? They’ve been confined to the role of spectator. Little
has remained of the forward-looking optimism of the Orange Revolution.
Political exhaustion has taken over, especially as the Ukrainian economy

has grown this year even without a government in power.

Ukrainian politicians have been fighting for years. Everyday people have
quit paying attention and just go about their work. It’s easy to understand why
they do.
Bernd Johann is director of DW-RADIO’s Ukrainian service.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


BBC Monitoring research in English 24 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Thursday, Dec 24, 2007

Volodymyr Ohryzko became foreign minister in December 2007, as his candidacy
was approved by parliament along with other ministers of Yuliya Tymoshenko’s
new cabinet. Ohryzko is a pro-Western diplomat; he is reportedly disliked in

Ohryzko was nominated to the cabinet by President Viktor Yushchenko, as the
post of foreign minister, along with defence minister, belongs to the
presidential quota in the government.

This job is not entirely new for Ohryzko, as he briefly served as acting
foreign minister in early 2007. He was also nominated for foreign minister
by Yushchenko twice in February and March, but was rejected by parliament.

Ohryzko was born in Kiev on 1 April 1956. He graduated from the Kiev
Shevchenko state university as a translator from German in 1978, and was
employed by the Soviet Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry as press attache the same
year. He has been dealing with foreign affairs ever since, with a break for
military service in the Soviet army in 1981-83.

In 1992-1996, Ohryzko served in various positions at the Ukrainian embassies
to Austria and Germany. In 1996, the then president, Leonid Kuchma, picked
him to chair the foreign policy directorate of the presidential
administration. Ohryzko was ambassador to Austria in 1999-2004, after which
he briefly served as ambassador at large.

Ohryzko earned a reputation for being a tough negotiator with Russia,
serving as first deputy prime minister since February 2005.

Moscow disapproved his statements on the need for the Black Sea Fleet to
leave Ukraine as soon as possible, as well as requests for the Russian navy
to abandon the hydrographic facilities in Ukraine which Russia has been
using for years.

Ohryzko refused to speak Russian at one meeting with visiting Russian
experts, who afterwards complained that their poor knowledge of Ukrainian
hampered normal dialogue.

This caused a diplomatic scandal, which Yushchenko’s opponents in parliament
quoted as one of the reasons for their refusal to approve Ohryzko’s
candidacy as Yushchenko’s choice for foreign minister twice in February and
March 2007, following Borys Tarasyuk’s resignation from the post of foreign
minister in January.

Pro-Yushchenko parties said that Kremlin was behind Ohryzko’s failure.
“Volodymyr Ohryzko hates Russia and Russians,” said pro-Kremlin commentator
Georgiy Markov. It was widely believed that the then anti-Yushchenko
majority in parliament feared that Ohryzko would zealously pursue
Yushchenko’s policy of integration with the West at the expense of relations
with Russia.

Yushchenko remained faithful to his choice and nominated Ohryzko again

when control over the majority in parliament passed to his allies following the
September 2007 early parliamentary election.

Ohryzko has been serving as foreign minister since 18 December 2007. US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice congratulated Ohryzko on his appointment
by phone.

Among Ohryzko’s first steps as foreign minister was the summoning of the
Russian Embassy’s counsellor-envoy over the Russian Foreign Ministry’s
statement saying that Ukraine was distorting history when it called the
1932-33 famine an act of genocide. Ohryzko said that the statement
“contradicted basic historical knowledge”.

Ohryzko said that Ukraine has no alternative to normal relations with
Russia. He listed the increase in the price of Russian gas and Russia’s
withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

among the major challenges facing Ukraine.

Ohryzko pledged to strictly monitor the implementation by the Schengen zone
countries of the Ukraine-EU accord on visa regime liberalization. He also
said that it is too early to speak about joining NATO, but added that
Ukraine should join the NATO Membership Action Plan as soon as possible.

Ohryzko speaks German, English and Russian. He is married, with two
daughters and a son who serves at the Ukrainian Embassy to Austria.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Internet Press Service of Yulia Tymoshenko
Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, December 20, 2008

Anders Aslund, the known economist, senior expert of Peterson Institute of
international economy in the interview to “Voice of America” said that West
expects that Ukraine will help itself at last:

“Everybody wants the only thing -, that Ukraine took care of itself, carried
out necessary reforms. The West does not have problems with Ukraine as
the state. A question is how strongly Ukraine loves us, and how strongly
Ukraine loves itself”.

As for the question of composition and prospects of success of Yulia
Tymoshenko’s government, the hard critic of Tymoshenko’s past government
Anders Aslund says, that in a new government there are professionals which
can make necessary reforms under the correct management:

“I would mark three people, which, in my opinion, are very important for
a government. Victor Pynzenyk as a minister for finance, which is one of
the best economists in Ukraine. Certainly, Grygory Nemyrya, the right hand
of Tymoshenko in a foreign policy, which, I think, will be the Ukrainian
person for the West – and it is a very good choice.

And the third very important person is Yuriy Ekhanurov, which is one of
the most competent managers in Ukraine. And even if the question of defense
is new for him, his administrative skills are just what is necessary to
prolong reforms in Department of defense”.

As for solving of the urgent problems which stand before Tymoshenko’s
government, in Anders Aslund’s opinion, there are few of them. One of
them is diminishing of energy dependence on Russia and removal of
“Rosukrenergo” from domination at the energy market of Ukraine.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


BBC Monitoring research in English 24 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Monday, December 24, 2007

Yuriy Yekhanurov became defence minister in December 2007, as his candidacy
was approved by parliament along with other ministers of Yuliya Tymoshenko’s
new cabinet.

Yekhanurov was nominated to the cabinet by President Viktor Yushchenko, as
the post of defence minister, along with foreign minister, belongs to the
presidential quota in the government.

Yekhanurov is one of the most experienced Ukrainian politicians. In the
mid-1990s he managed the start of Ukraine’s privatization campaign as head
of the State Property Fund. He served as prime minister in 2005-06, and he
topped the list of the pro-Yushchenko bloc for the 2006 parliamentary

The choice of Yekhanurov for defence minister by Yushchenko was a surprise
to many, as his predecessor Anatoliy Hrytsenko, who had served in this
position since February 2005, was a successful minister, respected in the
West and supported by Yushchenko.

Yekhanurov is viewed as a counterbalance in the cabinet to Prime Minister
Yuliya Tymoshenko, whose critic he has been ever since her first appointment
as prime minister in 2005.

In 2007, Yekhanurov also initially refused to back Tymoshenko for prime
minister, arguing that the promises she made ahead of the September 2007
parliamentary election were unrealistic. Yushchenko had to personally
persuade Yekhanurov to vote in favour of Tymoshenko in parliament when the
fate of her cabinet was decided on 18 December 2007.

Yuriy Yekhanurov, an ethnic Buryat, was born in August 1948 in a village in
Russia’s north-eastern Yakutia Republic. Yekhanurov went to a secondary
school in Yakutia, but later moved to Ukraine. In 1967 he graduated from a
construction school in Kiev, and in 1973 from the local Institute of
People’s Economy (now the Economic University).

In 1974, he became director of a construction materials factory in Kiev.
Yekhanurov climbed the career ladder in the construction industry up to the
post of deputy chairman of Kiev’s main construction directorate in 1988.

As Ukraine gained independence in 1991, Yekhanurov moved to the Cabinet of
Ministers, where he headed an economic department. In 1992-93 he served as
deputy head of the Kiev city administration’s economic department, then
returned to the Cabinet of Ministers as deputy economics minister. In
1994-97 Yekhanurov steered the early stage of Ukraine’s privatization as
chairman of the State Property Fund.

In February 1997 he was appointed economics minister in the cabinet of Prime
Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. In July 1997, Yekhanurov became head of the state
committee for enterprise.

Yekhanurov was elected to parliament for the first time in March 1998. He
joined the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko in January 2000 as
first deputy prime minister. When Yushchenko was dismissed in May 2001, the
then president, Leonid Kuchma, employed Yekhanurov as first deputy head of
his administration. But he left the administration in November 2001 to work
on the election headquarters of Yushchenko’s newly formed Our Ukraine
opposition bloc.

Yekhanurov was elected to parliament again in March 2002 from Our Ukraine’s
list. Yushchenko employed Yekhanurov at his election headquarters for a
second time in summer 2004, this time for the presidential polls, which
Yushchenko won. On 1 April 2005 Yushchenko appointed Yekhanurov

governor of Dnipropetrovsk Region.

Yushchenko appointed Yekhanurov as prime minister to replace Tymoshenko in
September 2005. The economy grew under Yekhanurov, following a brief
stagnation period in the middle of 2005. It was also during his premiership
that Ukraine concluded the controversial January-February 2006 accords on
gas trade with Russia, under which the Swiss-registered company RosUkrEnergo
became the monopoly supplier of gas from Russia to Ukraine.

Yekhanurov had to step down on 4 August 2006, replaced by Viktor Yanukovych
from the camp rival to Yushchenko. As Yanukovych’s party secured control
over the majority in parliament in the wake of the 2006 parliamentary
election, Yekhanurov was a member of parliament’s standing committee for
science and education. He has been first deputy chairman of Yushchenko’s Our
Ukraine-People’s Union party since March 2007.

After the 30 September 2007 early parliamentary election, Yekhanurov
supported the idea of a grand coalition involving Yanukovych’s party. He
also opposed Yuliya Tymoshenko return to the post of prime minister. The
majority of his party did not support him, and Yekhanurov had to back the
party line.

Yushchenko believes that Yekhanurov will speed up reform in the army.
Speaking shortly after his appointment, Yekhanurov said he will first of all
discuss the ministry’s budget with his deputies and the top brass. He said
that he will focus on resolving socioeconomic problems in the army.
Yekhanurov also stressed the need to popularize the military profession.

Yekhanurov should oversee the Ukrainian army’s transition to contract-based
service as opposed to conscription. His predecessor Hrytsenko had rejected
Tymoshenko’s plan to do this in 2008. Yushchenko believes this should be
possible by 2010. Yekhanurov is married, with one son.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
Reuters, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, December 20, 2007

KYIV-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who returned to her job this week,

vowed on Thursday to cleanse Ukraine of corruption and fulfill campaign
promises to improve the lives of the ex-Soviet state’s 47 million people.

“We are starting the process of cleansing the country. I will do everything
to ensure that dirty, shadowy money will cease to be a major factor in
Ukrainian politics,” Tymoshenko said in a televised address.

Seated stiffly behind a desk alongside a blue and yellow national flag,
Tymoshenko said her cabinet had started a country-wide analysis of corruption,
reviewing the operations of those who were previously in power.

“We must find out clearly what they managed to do. I hereby guarantee that we
will check every kopeck spent, every public tender, every license, every illegal
act. Let no one be in doubt that you must answer for all shady, illegal deals.”

Tymoshenko fell out with President Viktor Yushchenko during her first term in
office as her government split into two camps, each accusing the other of
engaging in corruption.

Her departure and the split in “orange” ranks produced dismay among liberals
who had sought to advance the revolution’s ideals of moving closer to
the West.

Tymoshenko and the president reconciled before a September election called
to end three years of political turmoil and she emerged to lead an “orange”
coalition with a tiny majority.

With her cabinet approved this week by parliament, including veteran reformer
Viktor Pynzenyk as finance minister, she vowed to put order in public finances
and amend the 2008 budget.

Sporting her trademark braid and a somber dark brown dress, Tymoshenko told
television viewers there would be no disunity this time between the prime
minister, government and president.

Parliament, she said, would proceed with a plan to lift the immunity of members
and ministers would be subject to strict standards. Promises to return lost
Soviet-era savings to depositors and do away with army conscription would be

“The ethic of my administration is very simple. Those wishing to work will do
so. Those wishing to steal will be held accountable,” she said.

“And that is all. There can be no alternative. I am in no way a naive person
and understand full well that true order is precisely what is needed for
the people themselves.”
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

BBC Monitoring research in English 24 Dec 07
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, Monday, December 24, 2007

Yuriy Lutsenko became interior minister for a second time in December 2007,
as his candidacy was approved by parliament along with other ministers of
Yuliya Tymoshenko’s new cabinet.

Lutsenko is leader of the People’s Self-Defence movement and an ally of
President Viktor Yushchenko. He was one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange
Revolution, which brought Yushchenko to power. Lutsenko has strained
relations with the main opposition Party of Regions (PRU).

Several criminal cases were launched against PRU leaders when he became
interior minister for the first time in early 2005, and when he was
dismissed in December 2006, corruption probes were launched against him.
Neither his probes nor the probes against him were brought to conclusion, as
no substantial evidence was found.

Born in the western region of Rivne in 1964, he graduated as an electronics
engineer from the Lviv Polytechnic Institute in 1989. Lutsenko’s father was
a top Communist party functionary in Rivne Region.

He served as a deputy minister for science and technology in 1997-98. And in
1998-99, he was an aide to the then Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko.

A member of the Socialist Party since 1991, Lutsenko was an aide to party
leader Oleksandr Moroz and a top member of his campaign team for the 1999
presidential election. For many years he was the editor of the opposition
newspaper Hrani Plyus. He came to national prominence during the Ukraine
Without Kuchma campaign of 2000-01.

He was elected to parliament in 2002 on the Socialist Party list. Lutsenko
was seen as a key figure in the right wing of the Socialist Party, favouring
cooperation with the non-Communist opposition including far-right parties.
Ahead of the 2004 presidential election, Lutsenko was a leading figure in
the election campaign of Oleksandr Moroz.

After Moroz was eliminated in the first round, he backed Viktor Yushchenko
in the run-off. He was one of the “field commanders” in the Orange
Revolution protests that followed the disputed second round, organizing the
protests and addressing protesters from the stage on Independence Square.

After Yushchenko’s victory in the third round of the election, Lutsenko was
chosen for the post of interior minister in the first government of Yuliya
Tymoshenko. He defined his task as to clear out corruption from the

He quickly made enemies among the supporters of the former authorities by
launching criminal investigations against Donetsk regional council head
Borys Kolesnykov and former Sumy Region governor Volodymyr Shcherban.

He also launched an investigation into the early activities of Donetsk tycoon
Rinat Akhmetov. However, no charges were filed.

Lutsenko continued to serve as interior minister in the second Orange
government of Yuriy Yekhanurov. Lutsenko did not run in the 2006 parliament
election though he did appear in campaign ads for the Socialist Party.

After the Socialists joined Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions and the
Communist in a coalition in summer 2006, Lutsenko criticized Moroz and
threatened to resign. However, Lutsenko eventually agreed to continue as
interior minister under Prime Minister Yanukovych under a deal between the
president and prime minister.

Lutsenko’s relations with Yanukovych were strained. Yanukovych regularly
criticized him for combining his post with political activity. Parliament
set up an ad hoc commission to investigate allegations of corruption in the
police force in a critical newspaper article.

Lutsenko was accused of illegally distributing pistols and of using
government flights for private purposes. Lutsenko was eventually dismissed
by parliament on 1 December 2006.

Several weeks later, Lutsenko announced the setting up of the People’s
Self-Defence movement. He said that the movement was intended to protect
individuals against the government’s economic policy. Lutsenko admitted that
the movement was financed by Davyd Zhvaniya, a Kiev-based tycoon who also
helped organize the Orange Revolution protests.

Lutsenko held a series of rallies across the country, criticizing the
Yanukovych government. Prosecutors meanwhile carried out a high-profile
search of his Kiev flat, saying they were investigating allegations of abuse
of office and reports that Lutsenko had an Israeli passport. The
investigation produced no result and was later suspended by a court ruling.

In April 2007, Lutsenko joined Tymoshenko and the propresidential Our
Ukraine party to urge Yushchenko to dissolve parliament. He topped the Our
Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence bloc list for the 30 September 2007 early
parliamentary election. Together with Our Ukraine leader Vyacheslav
Kyrylenko, Lutsenko toured Ukraine for several months, drumming up support
for their bloc.

Lutsenko wanted to return to the post of interior minister, saying that he
would resume his crusade against corruption. The parliamentary majority of
Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc

approved his return on 18 December 2007.

Lutsenko on 22 December announced that police should focus on five
priorities under his leadership: introducing order on motorways, illegal
migration fighting, eliminating impunity and helping prosecutors to bring
criminal cases to conclusion, efficient use of special police units and
interior troops to guard public order and prevention of confrontation
between regular police and interior troops, which are part of the Interior

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

EDITORIAL: Financial Times, London, UK, Tuesday, Dec 18 2007

Nearly three months after Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, the country’s
bickering politicians on Tuesday finally approved a new government, headed
by Yulia Tymoshenko, the firebrand Orange Revolution leader.

The vote is most welcome as Kiev must press on with urgent reforms. Ukraine
has, for the first time, a government with a parliamentary majority backing
president Viktor Yushchenko’s pro-west agenda.

But it would be wise not to expect too much of the fragile new
administration. Ms Tymoshenko will struggle to retain power. She and Mr
Yushchenko must create a better relationship.

The two, who were briefly united in the 2004 Orange Revolution, fell out
soon afterwards when Mr Yushchenko sacked Ms Tymoshenko’s first government.

Ms Tymoshenko recovered with a triumph in the election, where she advanced
at the expense of Mr Yushchenko’s supporters and established herself the
dominant Orange force. Ms Tymoshenko will be a rival for Mr Yushchenko in
the 2010 presidential poll – and he knows it.

Viktor Yanukovich, the former premier who heads the largest opposition
party, will be determined to undermine the government. It may not take much.
Ms Tymoshenko and Mr Yushchenko together have just 228 votes in the 450-seat
parliament, a majority of only three.

Fortunately, the policy differences between Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko
have narrowed since 2005. The prime minister has moved closer to the
president’s west-oriented agenda, including integration with the European
Union and Nato.

She has tempered her assaults on business, yet is still determined to fight
corruption. On Russia, her rhetoric is no longer hostile, but, like the
president, she is rightly wary of the Kremlin.

However, the Orange team must be cautious. While western and central Ukraine
back the pro-west agenda, it raises hackles in the Russia-oriented east.

The economic priorities should be reducing corruption, cutting red tape,
completing privatisation and reforming the murky energy sector. World Trade
Organisation accession, long Mr Yushchenko’s top economic aim, must now go
ahead. Although the economy is growing fast, Ukraine has no time to waste.
Widespread poverty, poor infrastructure and inadequate public services all
need urgent attention.

For the west, the new government should be a more co-operative partner than
the Russia-oriented Yanukovich administration. But with Kiev still suffering
the aftershocks of the Orange Revolution, the US and the EU should not set
their sights too high.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Ukraine Monthly Macroeconomic Report From SigmaBleyzer:

EDITORIAL: Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec 26 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to President Viktor
Yushchenko just as Putin was being unveiled as Time magazine’s 2007
Person of the Year. Basking in the glory of international recognition, Putin
reminded Yushchenko that the Kremlin is upset with the way Ukraine is
treating its common history with Russia.

In the Time magazine interview, Putin foretold Ukraine’s destruction because
Washington categorizes Ukraine’s elites as either “pro-American” or

Putin called this a mistake, claiming “all of them have to be Ukrainian
nationalists in the positive sense of the term.” “Everything that took
place” since the Orange Revolution was in violation of the Constitution,
Putin said.

Putin said 17 million Ukrainian citizens are ethnic Russians, when the
reality is that 7.8 million, not the 38 percent that he alleged, claim
Russian heritage. Revealing chauvinism, he said “almost 100 percent” of
Ukrainians consider Russian their native language. He might as well have
declared Ukrainian a dead language.

However, in his letter to Yushchenko, Putin betrayed a significant soft spot
in the Kremlin’s quest to keep Ukraine obedient.

He left out an issue that the Kremlin has consistently hammered at earlier;
namely, referring to the Holodomor as genocide against Ukrainians.
Apparently, Putin preferred not to mention the issue in his letter as one
belonging to a “common history.”

Rather than lecturing Ukrainians, Putin might lead Russians by taking Kyiv’s
example and declassifying Soviet archives. Russia claims that famine was
forced upon its people as well. But how? The outside world, and more
importantly, the Russian people, will not know until the archives are open.

Western policymakers, like Time magazine, should call upon Putin to open up
the archives of the Soviet secret police that he served and headed.

This should be a condition of Russia’s G-8 membership. In doing so in 2008,
Putin has every chance of retaining his most important person status, and
this time, for all the right reasons.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

MEMORY, Moscow condemns “anti-Russian” attitudes in Kyiv

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 233
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash DC, Monday, Dec 17, 2007

On December 14 Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a strongly
worded statement complaining of “open nationalist, anti-Russian, and
Russphobic feelings and developments in Ukraine.” Attempts are being made,
it claimed, to “use difficult periods in our joint history to receive brief
political rewards based on doubtful ideological pretensions.”

The number of historical issues dividing Ukraine and Russia continues to
grow and aggravate the already strained relations between a reformist
Ukraine and a resurgent, autocratic Russia.

In late November both countries exchanged diplomatic notes after the
Eurasian Youth Movement (EYM), a Russian nationalist group proscribed in
Ukraine, destroyed an exhibition at the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow marking
the 1932-33 famine.

The Ukrainian side described the vandalism as “provocative and
anti-Ukrainian.” One month earlier the EYM had destroyed Ukrainian national
symbols on Hoverla Mountain in western Ukraine and launched cyber attacks
that shut down the presidential website.

Since December 9 the servers supporting the orange youth NGO
(, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
(, and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
( have all faced sustained attacks.

Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU),
called upon his Russian counterparts to “not permit on each other’s
territories extremist and, God forbid, terrorist actions, which are
undertaken by such structures.” Reportedly officials foiled a terrorist
attack that had been planned to coincide with a “Russian march” in Crimea’s
capital Simferopol.

The banned group Proryv, with underground branches in the Crimea and ties
to extreme left and pan-Slavic groups, was suspected of being behind the
planned provocation, which would have been blamed on “Ukrainian

Ukraine and Russia have embraced differing interpretations of key historical
events and personalities since the late Soviet era. The divergence continued
under presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma (1991-2004), with a
return to Ukrainian national historiography, which had been banned in the
1930s but kept alive in the Ukrainian diaspora.

The process has become more heated with the rise of Ukraine’s President
Viktor Yushchenko and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Yushchenko has actively
sought to investigate the “blank pages” of Ukrainian history, while Putin
has returned to a neo-Soviet synthesis of Russian imperial and Soviet
ideology in historiography and national symbols.

Some of the most heated debates have occurred around two primary issues:
Ukrainian leaders and independence movements and crimes committed by the
Soviet regime in Ukraine.

New Ukrainian symbols, holidays, and commemorations have prompted protests
from Moscow. For example, the Tsarist and Soviet regimes regarded 18th
century Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa to be a traitor, and the Russian Orthodox
Church excommunicated him. But he is a hero in Ukraine.

Mazepa’s face appeared on Ukraine’s currency in 1996, Kyiv’s Sichnevo
Povstannia street was renamed after him in October, and a new monument is
planned. The Ecumenical Synod of the Russian (“Ukrainian”) Orthodox Church
in Ukraine denounced the monument plans.

An October 9 decree outlined detailed instructions to commemorate the 300th
anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, where a combined Swedish-Ukrainian
force led by Mazepa lost to Russia. The 1709 battle is seen as a turning
point that transformed Russia into an empire.

Ukraine lost autonomy and was eventually absorbed into the Russian empire
under Empress Catherine II. A monument unveiled to her in October in Odessa
sparked violent clashes between Russian and Ukrainian nationalists.

A December 13 decree contained plans for commemorating the 90th anniversary
of Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the Tsarist Empire next year.
A monument to Symon Petliura, who led the drive for Ukrainian independence
after the Russian Revolution, was vandalized in Poltava, his home region.

World War II also remains a divisive issue. A new monument to the
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, assassinated by
the KGB in Munich in 1959, was vandalized after it was recently unveiled in

An October 12 presidential decree outlined instructions to local authorities
about how to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the formation of the
Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a nationalist guerrilla force that fought a
decade-long war against Nazi and Soviet forces.

Another presidential decree awarded the “Hero of Ukraine” designation to UPA
commander Roman Shukhevych on the centennial of his birth. The decree noted
Shukhevych’s “individual contribution to the national-liberation struggle
for liberty and Ukrainian independence.” The Russian Foreign Ministry’s
December statement specifically complained that Pushkin Street in Lviv had
been renamed after Shukhevych.

Kyiv’s efforts to honor the victims of Soviet crimes have also irritated
Moscow. While Yushchenko supported the opening of a new Museum of Soviet
Occupation in Kyiv, the Russian MFA complained that Ukraine was attempting
to “nationalize” the suffering experienced by all Soviet peoples in the
1932-33 famine.

The head of the Ukrainian MFA press service responded by advising his
Russian colleagues that it was too late to discuss whether the famine was
“genocide,” as Ukraine had already taken this step. “I would like to advise
my Russian colleague,” he offered, that they should “read historical books”
and “on this basis reach a conclusion.”

Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Foreign Ministry, and
media have all condemned Ukraine’s designation of Stalinist crimes and the
famine as acts of genocide. The two sides have opposite views on Stalinism
(see EDM, November 30) and Russia, as the legal successor to the USSR, is
also concerned at possible future demands for compensation.

In late November Ukrainian nationalist parties sent an open letter to the
president and parliament demanding that Ukraine seek compensation from
Russia through the European Court of Human Rights.

As the two countries move in separate directions, the individuals branded as
traitors in Tsarist, Soviet, and post-communist Russia are increasingly
becoming Ukraine’s national heroes. ( )
(Ukrayinska pravda, May 12, August 29, November 17, 20, 24, Kyiv Post,
October 31, Novosti, March 15,,,

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
17. ‘CHILD 44’ (Ukraine, Village of Chervoy, 25 January 1933)

BOOK EXCERPT: ‘CHILD 44’: By Tom Rob Smith, A Novel
Courtesy Grand Central Publishing
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Fri, December 21, 2007


25 JANUARY 1933

Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself. She’d
already cared for it far beyond the point where keeping a pet made any
sense. Rats and mice had long since been trapped and eaten by the villagers.
Domestic animals had disappeared shortly after that.

All except for one, this cat, her companion which she’d kept hidden. Why
hadn’t she killed it? She needed something to live for; something to protect
and love-something to survive for. She’d made a promise to continue feeding
it up until the day she could no longer feed herself. That day was today.

She’d already cut her leather boots into thin strips, boiled them with
nettles and beetroot seeds. She’d already dug for earthworms, sucked on
bark. This morning in a feverish delirium she’d gnawed the leg of her
kitchen stool, chewed and chewed until there were splinters jutting out of
her gums. Upon seeing her the cat had run away, hiding under the bed,
refusing to show itself even as she’d knelt down, calling its name, trying
to coax it out. That had been the moment Maria decided to die, with nothing
to eat and nothing to love.

Maria waited until nightfall before opening her front door. She reckoned
that by the cover of darkness her cat stood a better chance of reaching the
woods unseen. If anyone in the village caught sight of it they’d hunt it.
Even this close to her own death, the thought of her cat being killed upset
her. She comforted herself with the knowledge that surprise was on its side.

In a community where grown men chewed clods of earth in the hope of finding
ants or insect eggs, where children picked through horse shit in the hope of
finding undigested husks of grain and women fought over the ownership of
bones, Maria was sure no one believed that a cat could still be alive.

Pavel couldn’t believe his eyes. It was awkward, thin, with green eyes and
black-speckled fur. It was unmistakably a cat. He’d been collecting firewood
when he saw the animal dart from Maria Antonovna’s house, cross the
snow-covered road, and head toward the woods. Holding his breath, he glanced
around. No one else had spotted it.

There was no one else about; no lights at the windows. Wisps of smoke, the
only sign of life, rose from less than half the chimney stacks. It was as
though his village had been snuffed out by the heavy snowfall; all signs of
life extinguished.

Much of the snow lay undisturbed: there were hardly any footprints and not a
single path had been dug. Days were as quiet as the nights. No one got up to
work. None of his friends played, staying in their houses where they lay
with their families huddled in beds, rows of enormous sunken eyes staring up
at the ceiling.

Adults had begun to look like children, children like adults. Most had given
up scavenging for food. In these circumstances the appearance of a cat was
nothing short of miraculous-the reemergence of a creature long since
considered extinct.

Pavel closed his eyes and tried to remember the last time he’d eaten meat.
When he opened his eyes he was salivating. Spit ran down the side of his
face in thick streams. He wiped it away with the back of his hand. Excited,
he dropped his pile of sticks and ran home. He had to tell his mother,
Oksana, the remarkable news.

Oksana sat wrapped in a wool blanket staring at the floor. She remained
perfectly still, conserving energy as she devised ways of keeping her family
alive, thoughts which occupied her every waking hour and every fretful
dream. She was one of the few who’d not given up. She would never give up.
Not as long as she had her sons.

But determination itself wasn’t enough, she had to be careful: a misjudged
endeavor could mean exhaustion, and exhaustion invariably meant death. Some
months ago Nikolai Ivanovich, a neighbor and friend, had embarked on a
desperate raid upon a State granary. He had not returned.

The next morning Nikolai’s wife and Oksana had gone looking for him. They’d
found his body by the roadside, lying on his back-a skeletal body with an
arched, stretched stomach, his belly pregnant with the uncooked grain he’d
swallowed in his dying moments.

The wife had wept while Oksana removed the remaining grain from his pockets,
dividing it between them. On their return to the village Nikolai’s wife had
told everyone the news. Instead of being pitied she’d been envied, all
anyone could think about were the handfuls of grain she possessed. Oksana
had thought her an honest fool-she’d put them both in danger.

Her recollections were interrupted by the sound of someone running. No one
ran unless there was important news. She stood up, fearful. Pavel burst into
the room and breathlessly announced:

-Mother, I saw a cat.

She stepped forward and gripped her son’s hands. She had to be sure he
wasn’t imagining things: hunger could play tricks. But his face showed no
sign of delirium. His eyes were sharp, his expression serious. He was only
ten years old and already he was a man.

Circumstances demanded that he forgo his childhood. His father was almost
certainly dead: if not dead then dead to them. He’d set off toward the city
of Kiev in the hope of bringing back food. He’d never returned and Pavel
understood, without needing to be told or consoled, that his father would
never return.

Now Oksana depended upon her son as much as he depended upon her. They were
partners and Pavel had sworn aloud that he’d succeed where his father had
failed: he’d make sure his family stayed alive.
Oksana touched her son’s cheek

-Can you catch it?
He smiled, proud:
-If I had a bone.

The pond was frozen. Oksana rooted through the snow to find a rock.
Concerned that the sound would attract attention, she wrapped the rock in
her shawl, muffling the noise as she punctured a small hole in the ice. She
put the rock down. Bracing herself for the black, freezing water, she
reached in, gasping at the cold. With only seconds before her arm would
become numb she moved quickly. Her hand touched the bottom and clutched
nothing but silt. Where was it?

Panicking, she leaned down, submerging all of her arm, searching left and
right, losing all feeling in her hand. Her fingers brushed glass. Relieved,
she took hold of the bottle and pulled it out. Her skin had turned shades of
blue, as though she’d been punched. That didn’t concern her-she’d found what
she was looking for, a bottle sealed shut with tar. She wiped away the layer
of silt on the side and peered at the contents. Inside was a collection of
small bones.

Returning to the house, she found that Pavel had stoked the fire. She warmed
the seal over the flames, tar dripping onto the embers in sticky globs.
While they waited Pavel noticed her bluish skin and rubbed her arm,
restoring the circulation, ever attentive to her needs.

With the tar melted, she tipped the bottle upside down and shook. Several
bones snagged on the rim. She pulled them free, offering them to her son.
Pavel studied them carefully, scratching the surface, smelling each one.
Having made his selection he was ready to leave. She stopped him:

-Take your brother.

Pavel thought this a mistake. His younger brother was clumsy and slow. And
anyway the cat belonged to him. He’d seen it, he’d catch it. It would be his
victory. His mother pressed a second bone into his hand:

-Take Andrei.

Andrei was nearly eight years old and he loved his older brother very much.
Rarely going outside, he spent most of his time in the back room where the
three of them slept, playing with a pack of cards. The cards had been made
by his father from sheets of paper sliced into squares and pasted together,
a parting gift before he’d set off for Kiev. Andrei was still waiting for
him to come home. No one had told Andrei to expect anything different.

Whenever he missed his father, which was often, he’d deal the cards on the
floor, tirelessly playing patience. He was sure if he could just finish the
pack then his father would come back. Wasn’t that why he’d given him the
cards before he left? Of course, Andrei preferred playing with his brother,
but Pavel no longer had time for games. He was always busy helping their
mother and only ever played at night just before they got into bed.

Pavel entered the room. Andrei smiled, hoping he was ready to play a hand,
but his brother crouched down and swept the cards together:

-Put these away. We’re going out. Where are your laptys?

Understanding the question as an order, Andrei crawled under the bed to
retrieve his laptys, two strips cut from a tractor tire and a pile of rags
which, when bound together with string, served as a pair of makeshift boots.
Pavel helped tie them tightly, explaining that tonight they had a chance of
eating meat as long as Andrei did exactly as he was told.

-Is Father coming back?
-He isn’t coming back.
-Is he lost?
-Yes, he’s lost.
-Who’s bringing us meat?
-We’re going to catch it ourselves.

Andrei knew his brother was a skillful hunter. He’d trapped more rats than
any other boy in the village. This was the first time Andrei had been
invited to accompany him on such an important mission.

Outside in the snow Andrei paid special care not to fall over. He often
stumbled and tripped, for the world appeared blurred to him. The only things
he could see clearly were objects he held very close to his face. If someone
was able to make out a person in the distance-while all Andrei could see was
a blur-he put it down to intelligence or experience or some attribute he’d
yet to acquire. Tonight he wouldn’t fall over and make a fool of himself.
He’d make his brother proud. This was more important to him than the
prospect of eating meat.

Pavel paused by the edge of the woods, bending down to examine the cat’s
tracks in the snow. Andrei considered his skill in finding them remarkable.
In awe, he crouched down, watching as his brother touched one of the paw
prints. Andrei knew nothing about tracking or hunting:

– Is this where the cat walked?
Pavel nodded and looked into the woods:
-The tracks are faint.
Copying his brother, Andrei traced his finger around the paw print, asking:
-What does that mean?

-The cat isn’t heavy, which means there’ll be less food for us. But if it’s
hungry then it’s more likely to go for the bait.

Andrei tried to absorb this information but his mind drifted:
-Brother, if you were a playing card what card would you be? Would you
be an ace or a king, a spade or a heart?
Pavel sighed and Andrei, stung by his disapproval, felt tears beginning to

-If I answer do you promise not to talk anymore?
-I promise.
-We won’t catch this cat if you talk and scare the cat away.
-I’ll be quiet.
-I’d be a knave, a knight, the one with a sword. Now you promised-not a
Andrei nodded. Pavel stood up. They entered the woods.

They’d walked for a long time-it felt like many hours although Andrei’s
sense of time, like his sight, wasn’t sharp. With the moonlight and the
reflective layer of snow his older brother seemed to have little difficulty
following the tracks. The two of them continued deep into the woods, farther
than Andrei had ever gone before. He frequently ran in order to keep pace.
His legs ached, his stomach ached. He was cold and hungry, and although
there was no food at home at least his feet didn’t hurt.

The string binding the foot rags to the tire strips had come loose and he
could feel snow edging under the soles of his feet. He didn’t dare ask his
brother to stop and retie them. He’d promised-not a word. Soon the snow
would melt, the rags would become sodden, and his feet would become numb.

To take his mind off the discomfort he snapped a twig from a sapling and
chewed the bark, grinding it down into a coarse paste which felt rough on
his teeth and tongue. People had told him bark paste sated feelings of
hunger. He believed them; it was a useful thing to believe.

Suddenly Pavel gestured for him to remain still. Andrei stopped midstep, his
teeth brown with bits of bark. Pavel crouched down. Andrei copied him,
searching the forest for whatever his brother had seen. He squinted, trying
to bring the trees into focus.

Pavel stared at the cat and the cat seemed to be staring at him with its two
small green eyes. What was it thinking? Why wasn’t it running away? Hidden
in Maria’s house, perhaps it hadn’t learned to fear humans yet. Pavel drew
his knife, cutting the top of his finger and daubing with blood the chicken
bone his mother had given him.

He did the same with Andrei’s bait-a broken rat skull-using his own blood
since he didn’t trust his brother not to yelp and startle the cat. Without
saying a word the brothers parted, heading in opposite directions. Back at
the house Pavel had given Andrei detailed instructions so there was no need
to talk. Once they were some distance apart, on either side of the cat,
they’d place the bones in the snow. Pavel glanced at his brother, to check
that he wasn’t mucking up.

Doing precisely as he’d been instructed, Andrei took the length of string
from his pocket. Pavel had already tied the end into a noose. All Andrei had
to do was position the noose around the rat’s skull. He did this and then
stepped back as far as the string would allow, getting down onto his
stomach, crunching and compressing the snow. He lay in wait.

Only now, on the ground, did he realize that he could barely see his own
bait. It was a blur. Suddenly afraid, he hoped the cat would go toward his
brother. Pavel wouldn’t make a mistake, he’d catch it and they could go home
and eat. Nervous and cold, his hands began to shake. He tried to steady
them. He could see something: a black shape moving toward him.

Andrei’s breath began to melt the snow in front of his face; cold trickles
of water ran toward him and down his clothes. He wanted the cat to go the
other way, to his brother’s trap, but as the blur got closer there was no
denying that the cat had chosen him. Of course, if he caught this cat then
Pavel would love him, play cards with him, and never get cross again. The
prospect pleased him and his mood changed from dread to anticipation.

Yes, he’d be the one to catch this cat. He’d kill it. He’d prove himself.
What had his brother said? He’d warned against pulling the snare too early.
If the cat was startled all would be lost. For this reason and the fact that
he couldn’t be sure exactly where the cat was standing Andrei decided to
wait, just to be sure. He could almost bring the black fur and four legs
into focus. He’d wait a little longer, a little longer . . . He heard his
brother hiss:


Andrei panicked. He’d heard that tone many times before. It meant he’d done
something wrong. He squinted hard and saw that the cat was standing in the
middle of his snare. He pulled the string. But too late, the cat had leapt
away. The noose missed. Even so, Andrei pulled the lank string toward him,
pathetically hoping that somehow there might be a cat on the end of it. An
empty noose arrived in his hand and he felt his face go red with shame.

Overcome with anger, he was ready to stand up and chase that cat and catch
it and strangle it and smash its skull. But he didn’t move: he saw that his
brother remained flat on the ground. And Andrei, who’d learned to always
follow his brother’s lead, did exactly the same. He squinted, straining his
eyes to discover that the blurred black outline was now moving toward his
brother’s trap.

The anger at his little brother’s incompetence had given way to excitement
at the cat’s imprudence. The muscles in Pavel’s back went tight. No doubt
the cat had tasted blood, and hunger was stronger than caution. He watched
as the cat stopped midstep, one paw in the air, staring straight at him. He
held his breath: his fingers clenched around the string and waited, silently
urging the cat on.

Please. Please. Please.

The cat sprang forward, opened its mouth, and grabbed the bone. Timing it
perfectly, he tugged the string. The noose caught around the cat’s paw, the
front leg was snared. Pavel leaped up, yanking the string, tightening the
noose. The cat tried to run but the string held fast. He pulled the cat to
the ground.

Screeching filled the forest, as though a creature far larger was fighting
for its life, thrashing in the snow, arching its body, snapping at the
string. Pavel was afraid the knot would break. The string was thin, frayed.
As he tried to edge closer the cat pulled away, keeping out of reach. He
cried out to his brother:

-Kill it!

Andrei still hadn’t moved, not wishing to make another mistake. But now he
was being given instructions. He jumped up, ran forward, immediately
tripping and falling facedown. Lifting his nose out the snow, he could see
the cat up ahead hissing and spitting and twisting. If the string broke, the
cat would be free and his brother would hate him forever. Pavel shouted, his
voice hoarse, frantic:

-Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!

Andrei staggered up and without any clear idea of what he was doing bounded
forward and threw himself on top of the cat’s thrashing body. Perhaps he’d
hoped the impact would kill it. But now, lying on the animal, he could feel
the cat was alive and wriggling underneath his stomach, scratching at the
grain sacks that had been stitched together to make his jacket. Keeping
himself flat on the cat to stop it escaping, he looked behind him, his eyes
pleading with Pavel to take charge:

-It’s still alive!

Pavel ran forward and dropped to his knees, reaching under his younger
brother’s body only to come in contact with the cat’s snapping mouth. He was
bitten. He jerked his hands out. Ignoring his bleeding finger he clambered
to the other side and slid his hands under again, this time arriving at the
tail. His fingers began creeping up the cat’s back. From this line of attack
the animal had no defense.

Andrei remained motionless, feeling the struggle play out underneath him,
feeling his brother’s hands nearing the cat’s head, closer and closer. The
cat knew this meant death and began biting at anything-his jacket, the
snow-crazed with fear, fear which Andrei could feel as vibrations in his
stomach. Imitating his brother he cried out:

Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!

Pavel snapped the animal’s neck. Neither of them did anything for a moment,
just lying still, breathing deeply. Pavel rested his head on Andrei’s back,
his hands still tight around the cat’s neck. Finally he pulled his hands out
from underneath his brother and stood up. Andrei remained in the snow, not
daring to move.

-You can stand up now.

He could stand up now. He could stand side by side with his brother. He
could stand proud. Andrei hadn’t disappointed. He hadn’t failed. He reached
up, took his brother’s hand, and got to his feet. Pavel couldn’t have caught
the cat without him. The string would’ve broken.

The cat would’ve escaped. Andrei smiled and then laughed, clapping his hands
and dancing on the spot. He felt as happy as he’d ever felt in his entire
life. They were a team. His brother hugged him and the two of them looked
down at their prize: a scrawny dead cat pressed into the snow.

Transporting their prize back to the village unseen was a necessary
precaution. People would fight, kill for such a catch, and the screeching
might’ve alerted someone. Pavel refused to leave anything to chance. They’d
brought no sack with which to conceal the cat. Improvising, he decided to
hide it under a pile of sticks. If they encountered anyone on their way home
it would appear as if they’d been collecting firewood and no questions would
be asked. He picked the cat out of the snow:

-I’m going to carry it under a pile of sticks, so no one can see it. But if
we were really collecting firewood you’d be carrying sticks too.

Andrei was impressed by his brother’s logic-he would never have thought of
that. He set about gathering wood. Since the ground was covered in snow it
was difficult finding any loose sticks and he was forced to rake through
with his bare hands. After each sweep he rubbed his fingers together,
blowing on them. His nose had begun to run, snot collecting on his upper
lip. He didn’t mind, though, not tonight, not after their success, and he
began to hum a song his father used to sing, sinking his fingers back into
the snow.

Experiencing the same shortage of sticks, Pavel had moved away from his
younger brother. They would have to separate. Some distance away he saw a
fallen tree with branches protruding at all angles. He hurried toward it,
placing the cat in the snow so that he was free to snap off all the dead
wood from the trunk. There was plenty here, more than enough for both of
them, and he glanced around, looking for Andrei. He was about to call out
when he swallowed his words. There was a noise. He turned sharply, looking

The woods were dense, dark. He shut his eyes, concentrating on that sound-a
rhythm: the crunch, crunch, crunch of snow. It was getting faster, louder.
Adrenaline shot through Pavel’s body. He opened his eyes. There, in the
darkness, was movement: a man, running. He was holding a thick, heavy
branch. His strides were wide. He was sprinting straight toward Pavel. He’d
heard them kill the cat and now he was going to steal their prize. But Pavel
wouldn’t let him: he wouldn’t let their mother starve. He wouldn’t fail as
his father had failed. He began kicking snow over the cat, trying to conceal

-We’re collecting . . .

Pavel’s voice trailed off as the man burst through the trees, raising the
branch. Only now, seeing this man’s gaunt face and wild eyes, did Pavel
realize that this man didn’t want the cat. He wanted him.

Pavel’s mouth fell open at more or less the same time as the branch arced
down, the end slamming against the crown of his head.

He didn’t feel anything but he was aware that he was no longer standing. He
was on one knee. Glancing up, head cocked at an angle, blood streaming into
one of his eyes, he watched as the man lifted the branch for a second

Andrei stopped humming. Had his brother called out? He hadn’t found that
many sticks, certainly not enough for their plan, and he didn’t want to be
told off, not after he’d done so well. He stood up, pulling his hands out of
the snow. He stared into the forest, squinting, unable to see even the
nearest of trees as anything more than a blur:


There was no reply. He called again. Was this a game? No, Pavel didn’t play
games, not anymore. Andrei walked in the direction he’d last seen his
brother but he couldn’t see anything. This was stupid. Something was wrong.
He called again, louder this time.

Why wasn’t his brother answering? Andrei wiped his nose on his coarse jacket
sleeve and wondered if this was a test. What would his brother do in this
situation? He’d follow the tracks in the snow. Andrei dropped his sticks and
knelt down, searching the ground on his hands and knees.

He found his own footsteps and traced them back to the point where he’d left
his brother. Proud of himself, he switched to his brother’s footsteps. If he
stood up he couldn’t see the footprints, so, crouching down, with his nose
only an arm’s length from the snow, he carried on, like a dog chasing a

He arrived at a fallen tree, sticks scattered all around, footsteps
everywhere-some deep and large. The snow was red. Andrei took a handful,
crushing it between his fingers, squeezing it and watching it turn to blood.

He didn’t stop shouting until his throat hurt and his voice disappeared.
Whimpering, he wanted to tell his brother that he could have his share of
the cat. He just wanted him back. But it was no good. His brother had left
him. And he was alone.

Oksana had hidden a small bag of powdered cornstalks, pigweed, and crushed
potato peelings behind the bricks of her oven. During inspections she always
kept a small fire burning. Collectors sent to check that she wasn’t hoarding
grain never looked beyond the flames.

They mistrusted her-why was she healthy when the others were sick, as though
to be alive was a crime. But they couldn’t find food in her house, couldn’t
brand her a kulak, a rich peasant. Instead of executing her outright they
left her to die. She’d already learned that she couldn’t beat them by force.

Some years ago she had organized the village resistance after it was
announced that men were on their way to collect the church bell. They wanted
to melt it down. She and four other women had locked themselves in the bell
tower, ringing it continuously, refusing to let them take it away. Oksana
had shouted out that this bell belonged to God. She might have been shot
that day but the man in charge of the collection decided to spare the women.

After breaking down the door he’d said that his only orders were to collect
the bell, explaining that metal was necessary for their country’s industrial
revolution. In response she’d spat on the ground. When the State began
taking the villagers’ food, arguing that it belonged to the country and not
them, Oksana had learned her lesson. Instead of strength she feigned
obedience, her resistance remaining a secret.

Tonight the family would have a feast. She melted clumps of snow, bringing
it to boil and thickening it with the powdered cornstalks. She added the
remaining bones from the bottle. Once they were cooked, she’d grind them
down to flour. Of course she was getting ahead of herself. Pavel hadn’t
succeeded yet. But she felt sure he would. If God had given her hardship
he’d also given her a son to help.

All the same, if he didn’t catch the cat she promised herself not to become
angry. The woods were large, a cat was small, and anyway anger was a waste
of energy. Even as she tried to brace herself for disappointment she
couldn’t help becoming giddy at the prospect of a meat and potato borscht.

Andrei stood in the doorway, his face cut, snow on his jacket, snot and
blood running from his nose. His laptys had completely come apart and his
toes were visible. Oksana ran over:

-Where’s your brother?
-He left me.

Andrei started to cry. He didn’t know where his brother was. He didn’t
understand what had happened. He couldn’t explain. He knew his mother was
going to hate him. He knew it was going to be his fault even though he’d
done everything right, even though it was his brother who’d left him.

Oksana’s breath was snatched from her. She brushed Andrei aside and hurried
out of the house, looking to the woods. There was no sign of Pavel. Maybe
he’d fallen and injured himself. Maybe he needed help. She ran back inside,
desperate for answers, only to see Andrei standing by the borscht with a
spoon in his mouth.

Caught red-handed, he looked at his mother sheepishly, a line of potato soup
dribbling from his lip. Overcome with anger-anger at her dead husband, her
missing son-she ran forward, knocking him to the ground and pushing the
wooden spoon down his throat:

-When I pull this spoon out of your mouth tell me what happened.

But as soon as she pulled out the spoon all he could do was cough. Enraged,
she shoved the spoon back down his throat:

-You useless, clumsy, stupid boy. Where is my son? Where is he?

She pulled the spoon out again but he was crying and choking. He couldn’t
talk. He just kept crying and coughing and so she hit him, pounding her
hands on his tiny chest. Only when the borscht was in danger of boiling over
did she stop. She stood up, moving the soup off the fire.

Andrei whimpered on the floor. Oksana looked down at him, her anger melting
away. He was so small. He loved his older brother so much. She bent down,
picked him up, and set him on a chair. She wrapped her blanket around him
and poured him a bowl of borscht, a generous portion far larger than he’d
ever had before. She tried to spoon-feed him but he wouldn’t open his mouth.
He didn’t trust her. She offered him the spoon.

He stopped crying and began to eat. He finished the borscht. She filled the
bowl again. She told him to eat slowly. He ignored her, finishing a second
bowl. Very quietly she asked what had happened and listened as he explained
the blood in the snow, the dropped sticks, the disappearance, and the heavy
footprints. She closed her eyes.

-Your brother is dead. He’s been taken for food. Do you understand? Just as
you hunted that cat, someone was hunting you. Do you understand?

Andrei remained silent, staring at his mother’s tears. In truth, he didn’t
understand. He watched at she stood up and left the house. Hearing his
mother’s voice, he ran to the door.

Oksana was on her knees in the snow, staring up at the full moon:
-Please, God, give me back my son.

Only God could bring him home now. It wasn’t so much to ask. Did God have
such a short memory? She’d risked her life to save his bell. All she wanted
in return was her son, her reason to live.

Some of the neighbors appeared at their doors. They stared at Oksana. They
listened to her cries. But there was nothing unusual about this kind of
grief, and people did not watch for long. (Copyright by Tom Rob Smith)
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