September 29th, 2015
Lug-info – translated for Fort Russ by Paul Siebert
Political analyst Aleksei Blyuminov: “Complete degeneration of the Ukrainian management structure”
* Fort Russ translates for you an eye opening and compelling interview with Blyuminov on the actual and critical situation in Ukraine – highly recommended *
Lug-Info – Aleksei, what is happening in the Ukrainian politics today?
– The country is steadily sinking into a systemic governmental and parliamentary crisis. Formally, the coalition in the parliament has not disintegrated yet, but everyone understands that there are forces that lead the parliament to early re-elections. Poroshenko is resisting in every way he can, eager to formally preserve the coalition. But the party of Lyashko has already abandoned it. Now the faction of Timoshenko is next in line.
Lug-Info – In your opinion, who benefits from this?
– Oligarch Igor Kolomoisky is behind all this, if we consider domestic beneficiaries who want to grab their piece. Regarding foreign beneficiaries – this is more complicated, because Ukraine is under external control. If the parliament is dissolved, it means that this decision was agreed to in Washington. If Washington does not want early perturbations and it is satisfied with Poroshenko, then the dissolution of the parliament will not take place. It will be maintained half alive for some time: a month, two, three, four – for as long as it is needed.
Lug-Info – Can we assert that the leader of the far-right “Freedom” party Tyagnibok has been “sent packing”?
– It is difficult to say at the moment. We remember that after Mukachevo Poroshenko was shouting angrily threatening to punish those involved, but no one was arrested, everyone escaped in the woods. In the conflict near the Parliament in Kiev on August 31 it is the same story: the Pechersk court in Kiev will decide whether to arrest Shwaika (former Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine, member of the “Freedom” party). In the coming days we will see how serious are the Prosecutor General, the police, etc. in relation to the “Freedom” party.
Lug-Info – In general, how do you assess the political situation in Ukraine?
– The political situation is absolutely unstable. There are no “fodder reserves” that could maintain stability. Roughly speaking, earlier, for example, under Yanukovych, this stability could be maintained by two things: the first – the legitimate state apparatus, and the second – the availability of some money. Now, both are missing. There are a lot of people who can toss grenades at the prosecutor’s office, and there is no money to cajole them.
Going back to the main problem – the regime is under external control, so all flames of instability are to be artificially extinguished. For example, there was a source of instability in the form Kolomoisky – he was removed after the mediation of the US Ambassador. There was a similar source of instability in the form of Nalyvaychenko: he was also removed. Therefore, external overseers are helping Poroshenko to keep the situation under control and consolidate his regime. Obviously, it cannot last forever, but as long as the Americans are interested in some kind of stability, they will not allow the spread of destabilizing tendencies.
Lug-Info – How important is the factor “of people returning from the front?”
– According to the association of owners of firearms (they are lobbying for legalization of the process), Ukraine is the largest supplier of illegal weapons to the EU. There have been some known attempts to smuggle multiple-launch rocket systems “Grad” across the country to Chernovtsi in order to sell them in Romania. We see that in all conflicts in Ukraine, including Mukachevo, heavy weapons are used. In Kiev, grenade explosions are heard and soon, in all probability, howitzers will be available. In spite of this, a more or less “glossy cover” of Ukraine is maintained yet.
Lug-Info – What about the situation in the Ukrainian economy?
– The economy is dead. According to the official data, the GDP has contracted by 12.5%. This demonstrates that the main branches of industry, which produced income: metallurgy, machine-building, chemistry, etc. – are in deep crisis. What more or less is still functioning to some degree is tied to the agricultural sector and exports through the port of Odessa. That is why, by the way, it is such a contested asset. Even lenders admit it.
Standard& Poor’s rating agency predicts that a default is inevitable. Not such a long time ago a technical default was admitted. But at the same time, due to political considerations, the same lenders say that they will continue to lend to Ukraine despite the fact that its economy is dead. Clearly, this is a purely political decision – to keep the bankrupt regime afloat. It cannot go on for a long time, but for some period they will be able to drag on.
Lug-Info – How will it look like?
– Without external credit borrowings Kiev is unable to form the budget for 2016. For this reason, Natalia Yaresko (Finance Minister) urges the Parliament to vote for all the conditions attached by the lenders as a package, blackmailing the deputies that otherwise default is inevitable. These conditions demand more severe cuts in all social programs, forcing the population to tighten their belts even more. Without this even the agreement about forgiving Ukraine 20% of its debt will not come into effect. But this debt write-off is not a victory. This means credit bondage, only delayed in time. Only the payment of the principal will be stretched for four years while the interest will be charged anyway. But this money will have to be returned by other people. Neither Yatsenyuk nor Yaresko will remain in their positions by then. However, it will be impossible to avoid a technical default. The government will have to impose a moratorium on debt payments in September and October. It is also necessary to return three billion dollars to Russia while Moscow made it clear that it is not going to forgive Ukraine’s debt.
Lug-Info – What is happening in the “social sphere”?
– In the social sphere there is a systematic reduction, squeezing, tightening of all social programs starting from the Chernobyl victims, pensioners, benefit recipients, and children of war. For example, in Kiev the categories of people who use public transportation for free have been significantly reduced. Only those people who have the so called “Kievite’s cards” have such a privilege. But this is a very small group. All other persons, including a huge number of migrants living in the capital of Ukraine illegally, do not have these preferential rights.
– And what about the prices?
– The prices are rising. On the one hand, the authorities caused the collapse of imports, on the other hand, exports crumbled as well. As a result, on paper the budget has reached equilibrium that is called deflation. In addition, without any sanctions and blockades, the assortment of goods in shops has been significantly reduced. For example, in the past there used to be 15 types of yogurt or mayonnaise, but now there are only three. What remains is the cheapest goods. There is no sense to sell expensive ones in mass retail stores.
Lug-Info – You mentioned the migrants. What is life like for refugees?
– Refugees from Donbas have no rights. There is a regime of internal segregation. Formally – you’re a citizen of Ukraine, you have a passport. But you need to be registered as a temporary migrant and receive a huge number of certificates. There are many problems when children go to a kindergarten or school. People also face domestic segregation when housing is not rented to people from Donetsk or Lugansk. I talk to many people, and I have a lot of examples. Plus, there are problems with employment records. In fact, people find themselves outside the legal environment. They periodically organize meetings in order to be legalized, to be given accommodation. If you have some financial reserves – you can rent an apartment, but if not …
– How do you assess the situation with the frozen conflict?
– With frozen conflicts there are no prospects to speak of, because the freezing does not provide a solution but postpones it indefinitely. In the hope that something will change under the influence of some external factors. We realize that the war may end only with a victory of one of the sides, it cannot end with a compromise. It is not possible. Compromise is a truce; it is not the end of the war. The simplest example: Some elements in Ukraine are enraged over the buying of coal from the enemy territory, from Donbas. In fact, these supplies should be legalized. Without this coal power plants will be stopped. The supplies of coal at the Ukrainian thermal power stations are left for only two weeks. That is, energetic collapse can occur at any moment. And the situation is becoming more precarious.
– Can you make any forecasts?
– Actually, it is difficult to make predictions. I personally see only one option – the end of the war. There are two examples of ending wars: the Vietnamese one, when a society is tired of the war and urges authorities to make peace and end the hostilities. And the second one is a military defeat of the enemy. Regardless of the scenario of solving the conflict, it will have different beneficiaries. It should be understood that the current regime in Kiev will never allow federalization of Ukraine. And there is no leverage to force it into it – Minsk agreements are brazenly flaunted by the Kiev regime.
– It seems that everything depends on the resources, including those resources received from the outside?
– From the perspective of an ordinary person who cannot rely on anything, yes. In Ukraine, the situation is worse than in Donbas. Donbas receives convoys with humanitarian aid, volunteers are collecting money. No one will deliver humanitarian aid to an ordinary poor Ukrainian. He has been left alone; there is nothing he can count upon. He is lucky if he has relatives who can feed him or make money transfers. We also understand that in Donbas, for obvious reasons, in many cases utilities are not paid for, but no one has been evicted.
Lug-Info – Let’s go back to the refugees. Will they come back?
Those ones who are not able to settle somewhere, will look for possibilities to return. People, who are able to integrate in the Ukraine with some success, are unlikely to return. In general, the situation in the country is depressing. We are witnessing a complete degradation of the Ukrainian management structure.
In Ukraine, the Emergency Situations Ministry has been broken up. We have seen three waves of lustration. Thousands of people have been fired. They have been replaced by people from the street. And the results are obvious for anyone: peat bogs are burning, they cannot extinguish them. The system has been destroyed: lack of people, lack of professional skills, and lack of equipment. In normal times any environmental disaster would be overcome within two – three days. Now fires are raging in the Chernobyl forest. It is impossible to breathe with smoke billowing in the streets.
Another example. The police is being disbanded. Seasoned veterans are gone. They are replaced with 22-24 year old boys, with no experience at all, but with huge ambitions. At the same time we see an explosion of street crime: robberies, stabbings, hooliganism. Nobody is dealing with street crime. In front of a camera traffic violation fines are ostentatiously written to a high-ranking bishop or some politician. But this is a facade, and behind the facade …. Some foreigner comes to Ukraine, makes some photographs and goes back to write a book about the success of Ukraine’s reforms. He will not delve into crime statistics. He will make a selfie with a policeman dressed in the second hand American uniform – second hand from Texas Rangers, with American chevrons replaced by Ukrainian – that is all. The usual Saakashvili-style. Total window-dressing in everything …