I haven’t been blogging from Tuesday, but it doesn’t mean that nothing happened in Ukraine during this time. I may say that much more should have been done, taking to the account the crisis situation in the country. Here are some highlights of the week from 3 to 7 November 2008.
Long-waited money. On 5 November the IMF Executive Board approved a Stand-By Arrangement for Ukraine for US$16.4 billion.
It was a predictable decision. One interesting moment – the final negotiations were made not by Prime Minister or some member of the Government, but by Head of the Verkhovna Rada Arseniy Yatseniuk who previously didn’t take active part in talks with the IMF. A public reaction of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to the transatlantic voyage of Speaker Yatseniuk was rather calm (actually after the crisis had started, she didn’t make any rough statements at all, maybe trying to preserve her rating). Tymoshenko just noticed that the IMF decision was a result of “almost round-the-clock work of the Government and the National Bank with the INF mission”, not mentioning President, his office or Mr. Yatseniuk.
Switched-off democracy. Russian TV channels were cut-off and then turned on back to the Ukrainian media space.
On 1st of November Russian cable TV channels’ broadcasting had been cut off in Ukraine, following a decision of the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council (NRTR). All the main Russian TV channels – Channel One, RTR, REN-TV, TV-Centre and TNT – were banned. NRTR explained the necessity for the Ukrainian cable TV operators to stop broadcasting the mentioned channels because they “violate Ukrainian copyright laws”, and also don’t provide Ukrainian-language subtitling.
I didn’t watch Russian channels a lot, so, it was not a big loss for me personally. But I think it’s really stupid just to switch them off because they are produced in Russia and use Russian language. The fact that it IS a discrimination of media on a political ground is easy to prove – for example, nobody switched off the CNN or the Euronews, though they do have a lot of advertising (not paying any fees in Ukraine of course) and don’t provide Ukrainian subtitling. I am not pro-Russian or something, I also think that some times Russian news are not loyal to Ukraine and its politics, but to switch the Russians off for political reasons is not democratic at all. The tendency was really frightening.
In a middle of the week two of the Russian channels – Channel One and REN-TV – were back. Thanks to the negative public reaction, and also the work of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But the broadcast allowance, according to the NRTR, in only permanent. It may happen that the channels will be switched off again in accordance to a new early parliamentary elections date (the elections will be definitely held next year).
Gaddafi visits Kiev. The Leader of the Lybian Revolution Muammar Gaddafi returned home on Thursday evening after visiting Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
In Ukraine, the last and longest stop of the seven-day trip, Gaddafi met with President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and other officials: lot of talks, but no real outcome. Viktor Yushchenko had made to Gaddafi his favourit proposal he’s making almost to all the foreign presidents he meets – to establish an oil refinery at Western borders of Ukraine (to give job to Ukrainian oil pipeline Odessa-Brody, very ambitious project that has no chances to be realised).
During a press conference in Kiev on Thursday, the Leader mentioned that Libya profits from competition of Western and ex-Soviet nations for access to its lucrative arms market. Also Gaddafi said he predicted the victory of Barack Obama in his Green Book, published in the 1970s. “Everything that is happening now was written in the Green Book 30 years ago already,” Gaddafi said at a news conference in the Ukrainian capital. “And the Green Book says that dark-skinned people will rule the world.”
Big friend of Georgia. President Yushchenko is accused in accepting 4x4 bribe.
Valery Konovaliuk, Member of Parliament of Ukraine (the Party of Regions) said in an interview with the Russian “Izvestia” daily that Viktor Yushchenko sold weapons to Georgia with a 20% discount in exchange for two luxury Land Rover cars, according to a parliamentary inquiry. The prise of the gifts – $100,000 each. Yushchenko's press secretary, Irina Vannikova, released a statement saying the Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, has never given the Ukrainian president Land Rovers as gifts.