The Richest Ukrainians Hot issue on Dec.
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vol. 15, issue 50
Vote for the Best of Kyiv! Log on to www.kyivpost.com and cast your ballots for the best businesses and services in Kyiv. The 10th annual Kyiv Post Best of Kyiv awards will be announced on Jan. 27. See pages 24 and 29 for details and stories.
December 10, 2010
Who Else? “The pre-trial investigation established that on the night from Sept. 16 to Sept. 17, 2000, Oleksiy Pukach, under the instructions of Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko and other officials, [and] in preliminary agreement with a group of persons, committed the premeditated murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, because the victim was fulfilling public and journalistic duties.” – Dec. 7 report from office of Ukraine General Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka
Despite evidence that ex- President Leonid Kuchma and current Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn may have ordered Georgiy Gongadze’s murder, authorities appear content to pin the blame on lower-ranking officials. See story, page 14.
People light candles in memory of Georgiy Gongadze, whose image is silhouetted above, during a memorial rally on Independence Square on Sept. 16, the 10th anniversary of the murder of the Ukrainian journalist. Gongadze’s unsolved murder symbolized the high-level crime and corruption that flourished during ex-President Leonid Kuchma’s rule from 1994-2005. (Yaroslav Debelyi)
Nalyvaichenko, former SBU chief, talks about corruption, shady gas trade, Gongadze murder K Y I V P O S T S TA F F
Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, the former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, is now the leader of Our Ukraine, the political party of his close ally, former President Viktor Yushchenko. The Kyiv Post sat down with the 44-year old politician on Dec. 7 to get his reaction to leaked U.S. State Department cables and allegations of links among organized crime,
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gas traders and top government officials. In confidential or secret U.S. Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks this month, U.S. officials repeatedly discussed the alleged ties between Moscow-based Semyon Mogilevich, who is wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash, a co-owner of RosUkrEnergo gas trader. Firtash is close to the inner cir-
cle of President Viktor Yanukovych. According to a report by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, during a Dec. 8, 2008 conversation he had with Firtash, the gas tycoon also claimed to be close to Yushchenko as well. Firtash has been a big player in the supply of gas to Ukraine and Europe via Swiss-registered RosUkrEnergo, which he co-owns with Russia’s Gazprom. Taylor wrote that Firtash acknowledged
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needing Mogilevich’s permission to open businesses. In response to the leak, Firtash denied ties with Mogilevich in a strongly worded statement on Dec. 2. The WikiLeaks-released documents also show heightened concern about organized crime in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. A Spanish prosecutor was, for example, quoted in the WikiLeaks documents as describing Ukraine as in danger of becom- Æ10
INSIDE: • Tymoshenko accuses administration, RosUkrEnergo of massive ‘financial crime.’ Page 5. • Tax protests fizzle out as Yanukovych signs compromise measure into law. Page 7. • U.S. official confronts Ukraine over 2008 arm sales to Sudan. Page 15.
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DECEMBER 10, 2010
December 10, 2010
Vol. 15, Issue 50 Copyright © 2010 by Kyiv Post The material published in the Kyiv Post may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. All material in the Kyiv Post is protected by Ukrainian and international laws. The views expressed in the Kyiv Post are not necessarily the views of the publisher nor does the publisher carry any responsibility for those views. Газета “Kyiv Post” видається ТОВ “ПаблікМедіа”.
Tomorrow’s News Tuesday, Dec. 14 – Wednesday Dec. 15
Ukraine appears to bow to pressure from China on Nobel Peace Prize
прим. Ціна за домовленістю. Матерiали, надрукованi в газетi “Kyiv Post” є власнiстю видавництва, захищенi мiжнародним та українським законодавством i не можуть бути вiдтворенi у будь(якiй формi без письмового дозволу Видавця. Думки, висловленi у дописах не завжди збiгаються з поглядами видавця, який не бере на себе вiдповiдальнiсть за наслiдки публiкацiй. Засновник ТОВ “Паблік-Медіа” Головний редактор Брайан Боннер Адреса видавця та засновника співпадають: Україна, м. Київ, 01034, вул. Прорізна, 22Б Реєстрацiйне свiдоцтво Кв № 15261(3833ПР від 19.06.09. Передплатний індекс ДП Преса 40528 Надруковано ТОВ «Новий друк», 02660, Київ, вулиця Магнітогорська, 1, тел.: 559-9147 Замовлення № 10-6921 Аудиторське обслуговування ТОВ АФ “ОЛГА Аудит” Mailing address: 01034, Kyiv, 22B Prorizna Street Kyiv Post main number: 234-6500 Advertising: 234-6503
Ukraine used an unscheduled meeting of its diplomats on Dec. 14-15 in Kyiv as an excuse for not having its ambassador to Norway attend the Dec. 10 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony of Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. Critics complained the decision to not have Ukrainian Ambassador to Norway Oleksandr Tsvetkov attend is a sign that Ukraine is willing to overlook China’s horrible human rights record in exchange for better ties with Beijing. In September, President Viktor Yanukovych visited China and signed bilateral agreements for up to $4 billion of Chinese investments in Ukraine, including a fast rail line connecting Boryspil International Airport and Kyiv. Tsvetkov confirmed to Kommersant daily newspaper on Dec. 6 that he received a written “recommendation” from the Chinese not to attend the award ceremony. On Dec. 6, the Oslo-based Nobel Prize committee said that Ukraine was among 19 countries to decline the invitations. Norwegian Nobel committee secre-
tary Torill Johansen told Kommersant that Tsvetkov informed the committee that attending a conference in Kyiv would prevent his appearance. Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Saudi-Arabia – all run by autocrats or dictators – were among the other 19 countries that declined the award ceremony invitations. Tsvetkov told Kommersant he will be in Kyiv on Dec. 10 to prepare for the meeting of diplomats to talk about Ukraine’s new non-aligned foreign policy stance and reaffirm the country’s commitment to European integration. But many think Ukraine is simply dodging the issue, since this biennial gathering usually takes place in August. The last one took place in 2009. In November, Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, announced that China had been pressuring diplomatic missions in Norway to boycott the award ceremony. China hasn’t released Xiaobo from prison and isn’t allowing his relatives to leave China to visit Norway.
A pro-democracy protester wearing a mask of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo protests outside the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong on Dec. 5. Protesters rallied in Hong Kong on Sunday for the release of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner. (AP)
The lack of solidarity is surprising to some, since Ukrainians made up the largest proportion of political dissidents in the Soviet Union. However, since statehood, Ukraine has had a troubling human rights climate itself. According to a 2009 U.S. State Department report, Ukraine’s problems “included reports of serious police abuse, beatings and torture of detainees and prisoners; harsh conditions in
prisons and detention facilities; arbitrary and lengthy pretrial detention; an inefficient and corrupt judicial system; and incidents of anti-Semitism.” In 2007-2009, the European Court of Human Rights issued 19 decisions against Ukraine for violations of the European Convention of Human Rights Late on Dec. 9, Ukraine's foreign ministry announced that it was sending a replacement for Tsvertkov. .
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Parliament to vote on broadening public information Parliament reconvenes Dec. 14-17 and may adopt laws giving the public greater access to official information. One is a bill on public access to information championed by Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko parliamentarian Andriy Shevchenko. The draft law has received high marks from international experts. Civil society organizations and journalists participated. The bill introduces a clearly defined
concept of public ownership of information, and has provisions granting the public to access government and municipal plans and budgets. It also gives greater weight to the public’s right to know vs. the privacy of government officials. President Viktor Yanukovych has repeatedly promised to pass such laws, in response to demands from the European Union and others. But his
commitment is questionable, since the pro-presidential Party of Regions lawmakers who control parliament have constantly stifled the legislation. The second bill is a new law on information favored by Party of Regions parliamentarian Olena Bondarenko. Lawmaker Shevchenko said he’s optimistic both laws will get passed.
“The Party of Regions realizes they have no choice but to pass this law,” Shevchenko said. “There’s been a lot of pressure at home and from abroad on the importance of passing these bills. There’s been a lot of goodwill on both sides of the aisle, we’ve finally came to an understanding, this is crucial for our country to move forward.”
Compiled by Mark Rachkevych
Experts: Partial ban on indoor smoking in public places is ineffective remedy BY I R I N A S A N D U L SANDUL@KYIVPOST.COM
The haze of smoke that greets visitors to many Kyiv restaurants could soon clear a bit as authorities plan next year to introduce a new recommendation to encourage restaurants, cafes and bars to restrict smoking to closed-off rooms. The move to clean up Kyiv’s restaurants – most of which currently allow smoking – has been championed by public health advocates and nonsmokers. But experts say that the measure falls short. Health officials say that only a complete ban on indoor smoking in public places can prevent the damage caused by inhaling second-hand smoke, a major cause of disease and premature death for non-smokers. The medical consensus is that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Moreover, many nations that have adopted stiff indoor smoking bans have found them to be successful and popular, while not harming businesses such as restaurants and pubs. Smokers, in short, adjust to the restrictions and even smoke less – which polls show most of them want to do anyway.
Fresh air The new recommendation for separate smoking rooms is entirely optional, said Oleksandr Brihinets, head of the permanent commission of the Kyiv City Council on cultural and tourist issues and one of the initiators of the project. He suggested that no-smoking establishments use signs to advertise their policy, and said that they will be placed on an official list of tourist points. The owners of non-smoking places could also receive some benefits from the city authorities. For example, large neon signs would not be considered advertising, as they will be for other establishments starting next year, saving them thousands of hryvnias in payments to the authorities, Brihinets said. Other incentive are being considered. Moreover, an indoor smoking ban might benefit business by drawing clients who are turned off by damaging their health by going to restaurants and bars. Viktoria Shipka, 20, who was sitting at Murakami restaurant near the Golden Gates this week, said she’d prefer smoke-free eating. She was in the restaurant’s non-smoking room,
Andriy Polischuk, a 34-year-old photographer, smokes in Cupidon pub in Kyiv. (Vitaly Pavlenko)
where smoke drifts in from smoking rooms which are not sealed off by doors. “They can [smoke] on the street, no problem, but even there – only at specially allocated places,” she added. Fabienne Labe, a 44-year-old French researcher who was also in the restaurant, agreed that most people want smokers to puff away outside.
“In France smoking is totally banned in public places and this is excellent,” she said. “French people are relaxed about this, even if they are smokers themselves. It is unpleasant when somebody is smoking next to you, not to mention that you might come with kids.”
Kostantyn Krasovsky, head of the tobacco control section of the Health Ministry’s Ukrainian Institute of Strategic Research, called the new recommendation a “half measure.” “But, of course, this is definitely better than nothing,” he added. “There is a big need for clean spaces.”
Freedom of choice
Most European Union citizens think the same way as Labe. According to research conducted by representatives of the European Commission, 70 percent of EU citizens support the ban on smoking in public places. The Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are among a number of countries to have banned smoking entirely in public places. The European Commission, is pushing for an EU-wide ban. Restrictions on smoking in Kyiv could also help Ukrainians live long. Currently, they are literally smoking themselves into early graves. An estimated one-third of adults smoke, and perhaps a majority of men. Smoking-related diseases contribute to the country’s lamentable life expectancy, currently 61 for men and 73 for women.
The regulation has not gone down well with restaurant and bar owners, however. Andriy Zadorozhny, the owner of Kozyrna Karta, the largest restaurant chain in Ukraine, said that some 60 percent of those that visit restaurants smoke. Vadim Vysochin, head of the Shokoladnitsa cafe chain in Kyiv, is worried about losing clients and not enticed by any potential benefits. “Fifty percent of visitors come [to cafes] to have a cigarette with a cup of coffee,” he said. “This is additional comfort.” Some clients agreed. Andriy Polischuk, a 34-year-old photographer sitting smoking in Cupidon pub, said he would go outside if the owners made it a rule, but it wouldn’t make him quit or light up less often.
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