30 April 2011

What is the Ukraine government concerned about growing potatoes?

Another example of the Ukraine government wanting to get its hand into everything.
The prime Minister recently announced how he wants to see BIG firms controlling at least 50% of the potato market in Ukraine. Oh why is that then?

Is he assuming that bigger producers will do things better if they control more of the market?
Perhaps he is ready to help his friends from larger agricultural companies?
Maybe soon we will see a return to 5 year plans for potato production?

See story reported in the Kyiv Post below:

Ukrainian government to facilitate growing of potatoes

The government of Ukraine will facilitate the growing of potatoes in mass production quantities by developing a special state program, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has said.

"We have to create conditions for the profitable growing of potatoes in [mass] production quantities," he told reporters after a visit to the Institute of Potato Growing of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv region on April 27.

The premier drew attention to the fact that today small private firms and the population grow 98% of the country's potatoes, and only 2% of potato production is carried out by large agricultural companies.

Azarov noted that within several years Ukraine should return to a 50/50 proportion, when half of total potato output is be produced by the population, and half by big farming enterprises.

According to the premier, the government is planning to facilitate production, logistics development, the construction of store facilities, as well as direct sales to cover interest on credits and the creation of conditions for direct sales.

28 April 2011

Protecting Democracy in Ukraine


A Freedom House Report on the State of Democracy and Human Rights in Ukraine
Freedom House and the Open Society Foundations held a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 to release the report “Sounding the Alarm: A Freedom House Report on the State of Democracy and Human Rights in Ukraine, ” (see attachment to this e-mail or the following link; http://freedomhouse.org/uploads/special_report/98.pdf; the news release can be found at http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=1403.
Following Ukraine’s downgrade from “Free” to “Partly Free” in its annual Freedom in the World report, Freedom House, with support from the Open Society Foundations, conducted an on-ground assessment mission of the current state of democracy and human rights in the country.

At the meeting on Wednesday in Washington, D,C., the authors of the report -- (1) David Kramer (Executive Director, Freedom House), (2) Damon Wilson (Vice President, Atlantic Council) and (3) Robert Nurick (non-resident senior fellow, Atlantic Council) – outlined Ukraine’s current socio-political atmosphere, explained their conclusions regarding Ukraine’s current trajectory, and stated concrete steps that both Ukraine and the international community need to take to prevent further democratic backsliding and to promote democratic values in Ukraine.


One year after Ukrainian citizens elected Viktor Yanukovych as their new president, Freedom House sent an independent team of experts to Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv to assess the country’s democracy and human rights situation. The assessment was conducted one month after Freedom House downgraded Ukraine from Free to Partly Free in its Freedom in the World 2011 rankings.

Until that point, Ukraine had been the only non-Baltic former Soviet state ranked in the Free category; it was one of only two countries worldwide to be downgraded to Partly Free for developments in 2010.

Freedom House, with support from the Open Society Foundations, decided to conduct this assessment for several reasons. With a population of 46 million and shared borders with the European Union (EU) and NATO member states, as well as with Russia, Ukraine is a country of vast importance. If it becomes a more established, democratic, market-oriented member of the Euro-Atlantic community, it will have a positive effect on the wider region and become a success story for its neighbors to emulate.

If it moves in a more authoritarian direction, Ukraine will not only set back its own future, but also damage hope for reform in Eurasia as a whole. Finally, the debate about Ukraine both inside the country and in the West has become rather polarized, breaking down roughly into pro- and anti-Yanukovych camps.

These concerns were reinforced by what we heard and saw during our visit. In our view, there is no question that President Yanukovych has consolidated power at the expense of democratic development. The president and his defenders credibly argue that this centralization of power is necessary if the administration is to have any chance to govern Ukraine effectively and pursue long-overdue economic reforms.

While the discipline of Yanukovych’s government is a welcome change to some, representing a departure from the paralyzing and endless bickering of the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko period, it has also revealed authoritarian tendencies.

The negative effects have included a more restrictive environment for the media, selective prosecution of opposition figures, worrisome instances of intrusiveness by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), widely criticized local elections in October 2010, a pliant parliament (Verkhovna Rada), and an erosion of basic freedoms of assembly and speech. Corruption remains a huge drain on the country, and there is significant room for the situation to get even worse.

Indeed, if left unchecked, the trends set by Ukraine’s current leadership will move the country toward greater centralization and consolidation of power—that is, toward authoritarianism. The checks, if they come, must be both domestic and foreign in origin.

But while civil society remains rather vibrant, it is also dispirited, depressed after the letdown by the Orange Revolution’s leaders, and despondent over the current government’s direction. The formal opposition offers little hope, as longtime political figures fail to inspire much public confidence.

This dynamic places even more pressure and responsibility on the West to deepen its engagement, both with the Yanukovych government and with Ukrainian society, by encouraging and rewarding good performance and pushing aggressively against backsliding on democracy.

Our visit reaffirmed our belief that Ukraine’s leaders do care about what the West thinks; they seek support and approval for their policies.

And yet both the EU and the United States seem to have disengaged from Ukraine or narrowed the bilateral agenda to a few issues of strategic importance, such as nonproliferation. This is the wrong approach.


For many, the Orange Revolution represented a high point for Ukraine’s democratic development and respect for human rights, and a marked change from the Kuchma era. Civil society activists felt emboldened, journalists felt liberated from government pressure, and the country appeared to be on track to join the Western community of nations. It did not take long, however, for the Orange Revolution to lose its luster, as its leaders descended into bickering with one another while falling sadly short of the high expectations many people had for them.

For Viktor Yanukovych, his “election victory” in 2004 was stolen from him. His victory in the 2010 poll, which was deemed free and fair by international observers, marked a remarkable political reversal. Yanukovych defeated not only Viktor Yushchenko, to whom he had lost in 2004, but also the archrival to both men, Yuliya Tymoshenko. It was his turn to run the country, and according to some observers, to deny his opponents the possibility of a similar political revival.

President Yanukovych talks about deepening Ukraine’s democratic development and integration with Europe, and his supporters, positing a contrast with the Yushchenko era, argue that there is now a more cohesive, effective government capable of actually governing the country. Yanukovych seeks to bring order to the chaos he inherited from his predecessor. His administration has successfully reduced the number of government agencies from 116 to 66, taken up 21 different reform initiatives, drafted more than 100 pieces of legislation, and launched a series of anticorruption investigations.

In short, his government has developed and is pursuing a serious reform agenda. Furthermore, during Yanukovych’s first year as president, Ukraine has made more progress in negotiations with the EU and resolved more long-standing bilateral issues with the United States than it did during several years under the Orange leaders.

But a number of actions and developments since Yanukovych became president suggest that the country is heading away from a democratic consolidation. Concentration of power, selective prosecutions of political opponents, a more intrusive SBU, the absence of checks and balances, and politicization of the judicial process are the main concerns observers cite. Our visit did little to dispel these concerns. At the same time, it would be premature to write off Ukraine as a hopeless cause.

Ukrainians, of course, will determine their own future. The West nonetheless has an important role to play. After all, it is in the interest of the EU and the United States to support an independent, sovereign, democratic Ukraine that is increasingly integrated into Europe and the global economy. But there is a glaring absence of Western attention on Ukraine these days.

Between the focus on improving relations with Russia and frustration with endless headaches in Ukraine, the West, according to many Ukrainians with whom we met, has lost interest. That is a perception, whether fair or not, that needs to be addressed head on. Because Ukraine’s leaders care about what the West thinks, it has an opportunity to influence their behavior. It is up to the EU and the United States to take advantage of that opportunity now.

In that spirit, to prevent further democratic backsliding in Ukraine, and to support constructive initiatives both inside and outside the government, the assessment team recommends the following:

· For President Yanukovych and his government:

o Rein in official harassment and monitoring of civil society and political opposition figures, and curtail the role of the SBU to ensure that it is consistent with democratic practice and protective of civil liberties.

o Halt politically motivated prosecutions carried out by the prosecutor general’s office against former leading political figures, while maintaining a credible campaign to root out corruption and foster accountability.

o Prosecute corrupt senior officials and party loyalists without regard to political affiliation to demonstrate the sincerity of government anticorruption efforts.

o Ensure that next year’s parliamentary elections meet Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) standards and work with the Venice Commission on amendments to the electoral code.

o Reject proposed legislation to regulate electronic media and adopt conflict-of-interest policies to separate government officials from media holdings.

o Dismiss Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk, arguably the most polarizing official in the cabinet, for sowing unnecessary and dangerous divisions within Ukraine over issues of identity, language, and education.

· For Ukrainian civil society and media:

o Focus on what can be accomplished at both the local and the national level—every stand taken in the name of democracy and human rights is important.

o Seek a diverse media landscape that avoids control by the state or one group of oligarchs.

o Report responsibly and separate opinion from news coverage.

o Insist on immediate and transparent steps to investigate attacks, harassment, and pressure aimed at journalists, and hold those responsible to account in the legal system.

· For the United States:

o Signal U.S. alarm at the highest levels regarding Ukraine’s democratic backsliding; be clear that cooperation on strategic (for example, the removal of highly enriched uranium) and economic issues will not win Ukraine a “free pass” on democracy issues.

o Stay systematically engaged with the Yanukovych government and support constructive domestic policy initiatives on its part.

o Stress the importance of next year’s parliamentary elections and the need for these elections to pass muster with the OSCE.

o Sustain U.S. assistance to independent civil society in Ukraine while also supporting and encouraging efforts by American and international NGOs to make Ukraine a higher priority in their work.

o Expand the number of visas available for Ukrainians to study in the United States and increase other exchanges and interaction between Ukrainians and Americans.

o Press the EU to deepen its level of engagement with all sectors of Ukrainian society.

· For the European Union:

o Underscore that progress on Ukraine’s agenda with the EU is directly linked to Ukraine’s progress on meeting European democratic standards.

o Finalize agreements on free trade and association as quickly as possible and then ensure the adherence of Ukraine and its government to the values enshrined in those agreements.

o Join the United States in stressing the importance of next year’s parliamentary elections.

o Expand opportunities (for example, scholarship funding, lowering or abolishing visa fees) for Ukrainian travel and study in Europe to foster the Ukrainian population’s European orientation.

o Understand that Ukraine’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community means keeping open the possibility of EU membership.

Despite the challenges facing Ukraine today, specific actions by all elements of the Ukrainian polity and civil society, as well as by the West, can put the country back on the path toward a stronger democracy and more rapid integration with Europe.

The Royal Wedding - Friday 29th April 2011 - 10.00am London Time

The Royal Wedding - Friday 29th April 2011 - 10.00am


If you do not have the day off tomorrow.

If you have to work in the office.

If you have no TV in the office, cable link or satellite link etc...fear not.

You can watch the event of the year

The Royal Wedding - via You Tube.

Go to the BBCU web site front page and follow the link.

See: www.bbcu.com.ua

27 April 2011

Ukraine - Economic Report - March 2011

Here is the latest report from SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group & The Bleyzer Foundation

  • Industrial production growth accelerated to 10.5% yoy in February 2011.
  • Despite a later spring sowing campaign and smaller area sown under winter crops, Ukraine’s grain harvest is forecast to be slightly better than last year.
  • The State budget reported a UAH 4.1 billion surplus over January-February 2011 amid spectacular growth in tax revenues and moderate spending.
  • Weaker reform implementation led to a delay in March’s IMF tranche release. However, the impact of the current delay is likely to be neutral.
  • Annual consumer price growth accelerated to 7.7% in March 2011.
  • The government decided on state-intervened bank resolution plans.
  • The current account balance switched to a large deficit in February 2011, but the financial account was in surplus mainly thanks to a successful sovereign Eurobonds placement in February 2011.
  • Ukraine has intensified trade negotiations with its main trading partners – Russia and the EU – raising confusion over its current foreign policy.


In February 2011, the Ukrainian economy maintained a good pace of growth. Most of the sectors improved their performance compared to the previous month thanks to high world prices on steel, robust growth in Ukraine’s main trade partner countries and strengthening domestic demand.
Industrial production growth accelerated to 10.5% yoy in February as stronger increases in metallurgy, machine-building and production of utilities compensated for some deceleration in the chemical industry and stagnation in food processing.
Retail trade turnover, typically used to gauge private consumption patterns, picked up by a solid 12.7% yoy. Due to colder weather during February-March 2011, Ukraine started the spring sowing campaign later than projected.
While the delay may negatively affect yields, better conditions than last year for winter crops allowed the government to project a slightly higher grain harvest at about 41-42 million tons in 2011. Despite better-than-forecast growth momentum in the first two months of 2011, we maintain our real GDP growth forecast at 4% yoy in 2011.

Robust real sector growth, higher tax rates, the improving financial stance of Ukrainian corporate enterprises and banks as well as abolishment of the 11-month reporting period for corporate profit tax (EPT) helped raise budget revenues by an impressive 44.5% yoy for the first two months of the year.
Larger VAT refunds in March and a vanishing EPT base effect were likely the main reasons of more moderate but still impressive growth in budget revenues over the first quarter. As government spending grew quite moderately over January-February, the state budget was in a large surplus over the period.
Budget performance could weaken in the coming periods. Revenue growth may continue decelerating due to enforcement of EPT rate reduction and small business privileges on April 1st and government plans to reduce excises in order to soften inflation pressures. Expenditures, on the other hand, may increase amid postponement of reform measures and initiatives to relax budget spending.

Weaker reform implementation led to a delay in disbursement of the IMF tranche. The delay is likely to have a neutral impact on the Ukrainian economy as there is a good degree of confidence that co-operation with the IMF will continue. Favorable budget performance over the first quarter of 2011 may be a strong argument for the IMF to tolerate more gradual reform implementation.

During February-March 2011, Ukraine intensified trade negotiations with its main trading partners – Russia and the EU. Ukraine began the final stage in talks on the creation of a free trade area with the EU, which has already existed for four years. Simultaneously, Ukraine was urged to deepen cooperation with members of the Customs Union (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan).
The lack of details over the likely design of an agreement with the Customs Union raised confusion over Ukraine’s foreign policy among both Western officials and Ukrainian citizens. So far, Ukraine has stood firm in its willingness to increase engagement with the European Union with the utmost goal of becoming a member of the EU. The road, however, has turned out to be much longer than expected.
In contrast, close trade relations with Russia and high dependence on natural gas imports hold near-term benefits for Ukraine as participation in the Customs Union is likely to bring a notable reduction in the price of imported natural gas, abolishment of Russia’s export duties on crude oil and gasoline products and improved opportunities for Ukraine’s heavy machinery industry. This may be a strong argument for Ukraine, as its trade and current account balances started to worsen in 2011, following notable improvements in 2009-2010.
At the same time, membership in the Customs Union will automatically complicate Ukraine’s relations with the WTO and its members as tariffs in the Union are higher than those agreed with WTO members.
Furthermore, the benefits from joining the Union may turn out to be short-lived as by receiving cheaper energy resources, the country will have less incentive to modernize its outdated and energy-consuming technologies. So far, the Ukrainian authorities have assured that Ukraine’s FTA agreement with the EU remains a priority for the country.

Ukraine International Airlines - Why all the cloak and dagger?

Hanky Marketing Ltd (British Virgin Islands) could indirectly acquire over 50% of the shares in the recently privatised JSC Ukraine International Airlines (UIA, Kyiv), according to a report by the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine.

In the report, the committee announced that it had permitted Hanky Marketing to acquire the shares. Other details about the possible buyer of the stake have not been disclosed.

CJSC Ukraine International Airlines was founded in 1992. It was reorganised as a private joint-stock company in 2010. The company has 18 Boeing 737 aircraft of various models. Its main airport is Kyiv's Boryspil International Airport.

Currently the company's shareholders are UIA Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH (58.6%), UIA Holding GmbH (25.84%), and Capital Investment Project (15.55%).

Sometimes it is almost a comedy to find out that most deals in Ukraine are covered in mystery.
We Brits have a lot to answer for after creating the tax haven known as the British Virgin Isles.

26 April 2011

Ukraine Agri Business - The cat is out of the bag.

From Business New Europe.

One of the best-kept secrets in Ukrainian politics is the identity of the private shareholders of Ukraine's newly formed state grain trader, Hlib Investbud. The cat is now out of the bag, as recent comments by the country's agriculture minister imply that Russian interests are involved.

Hlib Investbud, created in August 2010, has been the object of howls of protests at home and abroad since it took the lion's share of grain quotas in government tenders in late 2010 and early 2011, sidelining global companies such as Cargill and Bunge, and in doing so acquired grain export quota rights potentially worth billions of dollars.

The company aroused even more controversy when Ukrainian officials admitted that unidentified private interests participated in the company, and then even declared that those private interests held a majority stake. At the same time, both Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Agriculture Minister Mykola Prisyazhnyuk said they simply did not know who the private interests were; Azarov even claimed he had never even heard of the company.

The absurdity reached a new peak on April 15 when, in an interview with local English-language paper Kyiv Post, Prisyazhnyuk in one breath said he did not know who the private owners of the company were, in the next said "of course" he knew, and then seemed to confirm "press reports" that among the private owners is Russian state-owned bank VTB (known to many Russian speakers by its old name of Vneshtorgbank). But this only further muddied the waters: Ukrainian journalists had in fact previously convincingly traced the company's shareholders not to VTB, but to another Russian state-owned bank with a similar name and initials called Vnesheconombank, or VEB, as well as to companies possibly linked to Ukrainian officials.

Not content with that, Prisyazhnyuk later apparently demanded that the newspaper's owners pull the interview, under threat of closure of the newspaper, according to owner Mohammad Zahoor. Zahoor ordered the article removed, but the editor, Brian Bonner, on point of principle refused to bend to the owner's wishes. Zahoor then sacked Bonner, which led to the journalists at the paper going on strike. The owners claimed in a statement that Bonner’s firing was not due to the publication of the interview with the agriculture minister, but due to differences of opinion – as if there were a difference. To round off the absurd episode, Prisyazhnyuk now claims he had no problems with the article, which is still online, and Bonner has now triumphantly been reinstated as editor.

The secrecy and contortions over who owns Hlib Investbud are all reminiscent of official behavior in 2010 regarding an alleged $2 billion credit to Ukraine from Russia's VTB. Officials in 2010 hemmed and hawed for weeks over the origins of $2 billion on the central bank's books – alternatively denying, confirming and refusing to confirm or deny the existence of such a loan. Later it transpired that Ukraine had signed a confidentiality agreement with the Russian bank, preventing officials from disclosing the deal. "The strange situation with Hlib Investbud might very well all be the result of a confidentiality agreement with the Russian side," reckons Mariya Kolesnik of the Ukrainian agriculture consultancy AAA Consulting.

In comments to BNE, Hlib Investbud CEO Robert Brovdi characteristically refused to comment on ownership of the company, beyond saying that Ukrainian laws require it to have at least 51 percent private ownership to avoid having to hold obligatory procurement tenders. But he confirmed that some of Hlib Investbud's new financial clout came from loans from international financial institutions. According to Brovdi, the company needs considerable financial resources to fund its ambitious forward-purchase program for grain producers, which is intended to help Ukrainian farmers expand the area under cultivation and intensify production.

In an April 19 interview given by Oleksandr Lavrinchuk, head of Ukraine's State Food and Grain with which Hlib Investbud is merging to become its trading wing, Lavrinchuk said he would need to raise "several billion dollars" in investments and credit over the next two to three years. When the reorganization is completed, the new national champion aims to become Ukraine’s largest vertically integrated agriculture holding, according to Lavrinchuk, with a planned land bank of 1 million hectares and extensive processing and port facilities.

With a Russian presence behind the new grain market player accused of monopolizing the market, and draft laws moving rapidly through the Ukrainian parliament which would, if passed, largely restrict grain export rights to state-controlled companies or direct producers of grain and exclude foreign traders, the question is how these plans tie in with broader Kremlin plans to create a grain cartel, or a "grain Opec," uniting Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

On a visit to China, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was quoted as saying that talks were underway with Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine on creating a grain pool. The three countries together account for 30 percent of the world's grain-export market, and some form of export coordination has long been mooted.

21 April 2011

Which way for Ukraine?

The Dilemma of a Clear Choice

The Ukrainian establishment can withstand threats of total subjugation from external forces, but often lacks the understanding needed to counteract pressure driven by corruption.

Here is an excellent article in Ukraine Week.

see: http://www.ukrainianweek.com/Politics/21165

20 April 2011

Conflict maybe over at the Kyiv Post

It would appear that the owner/publisher of the Kyiv Post has reached an agreement with staff concerning the recent dismissal of Chief Editor Brian Bonner.

See: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/102537/

19 April 2011

EU and Ukraine Progress?

Sorry for the delay in news updates and comments but I lost my eyesight for many days due to a virus infection. So here goes with one eye back on the job.

I'm sure people have been following the the news about the possible tug-of-war between Ukraine-Russia and the EU concerning trade agreements.

Here is an updated interview with the EU Ambassador to Ukraine:

See: http://www.ukrainianweek.com/Politics/20938

08 April 2011

Ukraine. Never a Dull moment

One thing about Ukraine, is that there is always something controversial going on. Its never a boring country. Both a former President and Prime Minister charged and due to appear in court one day.
Ministers dismissed, one of the biggest grain traders taking the government to court ..it goes on.
Plus now we have a potential 'tug-of-war' between the EU and Russia with Ukraine in the middle.

Russian Prime Minister Putin will visit Ukraine next Tuesday (12 April) and its expected he will offer a range of 'goodies' to try and persuade Ukraine to join the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. One of those goodies will be a significant reduction in the price of Russian gas.

The EU would prefer Ukraine to enter into a Free Trade Agreement. Perhaps leading to associate membership status and who knows...membership of the EU one day.

Next week will be even more interesting in Ukraine as the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet will be considering the best 'offers' they have.
Its a shame it like this really. Ukraine should be demonstrating that it already knows exactly what is best for the people of Ukraine. Perhaps the President has already decided but has not got the message across to the people yet..or has he decided?

06 April 2011

Oxford Model Ukraine Conference - Today

Ukrainain, European, Canadian/US Experts to Gather in Oxford to Discuss Governance Model for Ukraine

Oxford Conference brings together international experts to share knowledge, experience, and ideas in order to improve democratic governance in Ukraine

6-8 April 2011, Oxford

Today, experts from across Europe, Canada, the US will gather in Oxford, UK to discuss leading issues in domestic and foreign affairs of Ukraine.

The third Oxford Model Ukraine Conference will take place at St. Antony’s College and New College at the University of Oxford on 6,7, and 8 April 2011. The conference is sponsored and organised by the alumni of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Programme (CUPP), and the Oxford University Ukrainian Society, in cooperation with the Russian and Eurasian Studies Center. Prominent participants include: Yuriy Yekhanurov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Borys Tarasyuk, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and current head of the parliamentary committee on European integration, HE Leigh Turner, the UK Ambassador to Ukraine, HE Volodymyr Khandogiy, Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Giorgi Vashadze, Deputy-Minister of Justice of Georgia, and Ambassador Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine. Among the scholars of Ukraine and the region the conference will host James Sherr of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Andreas Umland of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kataryna Wolczuk of the University of Birmingham, Andrew Wilson, University College London, Oxana Pachlovska of the University of Rome, and Oxford’s leading scholars including Paul Chaisty, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Alex Pravda and Sarah Whitmore.

“This will be one of the more significant conferences organised outside of Ukraine,” said Toronto-based lawyer, Ihor Bardyn, Committee Chair of the Oxford Model Ukraine Conference. Oxford University Ukrainian Society President Anzhela Yevgenyeva, St. Hilda's College, announced that “The conference will draw talented students, prominent scholars, political leaders, and professionals from various fields, and may be the largest gathering of Ukraine’s best and brightest outside of Ukraine”.

80 individuals from Ukraine, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the UK, and the USA have registered for the conference. The Oxford Conference is the third in a cycle of four Model Ukraine Conferences, which brings together CUPP alumni and experts in government, economics, law, diplomacy, education, and health to share knowledge, experience, and ideas in order to improve democratic governance in Ukraine. The aim of the conference is to distil recommendations discussed and present a new model of governance to the Government of Ukraine.

More information

Anton Krasun, Secretary for External Relations, Oxford University Ukrainian Society


Ihor Bardyn, Committee Chair of the Oxford Model Ukraine Conference


For further information on Fellowship in Ukrainian Studies at Oxford, please contact:

Ranjit Majumdar


05 April 2011

Putin in Kyiv - next week - 12 April 2011

Russian Prime Minister - Putin will be in Kyiv next week.

Should be interesting.

see: http://zik.com.ua/en/news/2011/04/05/280942

Guaranteed Wages in Ukraine?

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister and Social Security Minister - Sergiy Tigipko, has proposed to introduce what he calls 'guaranteed wages' in Ukraine.

Not sure what he means by this yet. More information is needed. But the idea of guaranteed wages in not new. Most people are aware of 'minimum wage', where a company knows it must pay a minimum per hour rate to employees.

In the UK, the only 'guaranteed wages' you will find are for those who are unemployed or long term ill or those unable to work for a number of reasons. Better known as 'State Support' or 'Social Security'. For those in employment receiving a guaranteed wage is confusing.
But then again in the UK, employers usually pay employees every week/month as per any agreement. They do not just pay 'when they have money', as is the practice in Ukraine.

The other way of looking at it is again a system used in the UK, where people are required to see a 'living wage', where for example a person has a low paid job and the wage is not enough to support his or her family and meet usual costs like rent/mortgage etc. The state will provide support through tax credits or other means to ensure that a person/family has enough money to live. Perhaps, and I hope this is what Tigipko has in mind?

For business people it's only a dream to think about having a 'Guaranteed Income Stream'.

See: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/101554/

02 April 2011

Corporate Finance in Ukraine

Obtaining bank credit is a nightmare in Ukraine. Personal loans are still difficult to obtain and even when granted the interest rates are sky high. If I had wrote this yesterday (1st April) I do not think people would have taken it seriously when I say that mortgage rates are still around 18% plus in Ukraine and also require a deposit on property purchases of around 30%. Not easy.

But what of corporate lending? Even more difficult. Although Ukraine banks have regained access to external bank funds, it is very difficult for SME's or any company large or small to obtain finance.

In the UK, bank finance lending rates are the lowest they have been for many a year. UK companies also complain about the difficulty of obtaining bank finance.
In Ukraine it is possible to obtain bank lending from 'outside banks', ie foreign banks. Therefore allowing Ukraine companies to benefit from low interest rates. However if a company seeks to obtain a loan from a 'non-Ukraine' bank, they must first obtain a special certificate from National Bank of Ukraine. As you can imagine the paperwork involved is crazy, time consuming and usually involves a bribe to be paid to a member of staff inside the bank just to make it happen. Yes......The National Bank of Ukraine is also corrupt. If anyone doubts this, I can supply evidence.

However, there are some larger companies that are trying to break out of the mould by raising growth finance from other means like Eurobond placements, via IPO and selling equity stakes to outsiders if they can find them.

One recent example is Mriya the agricultural group who have recently obtain external funds and have also attracted the interest of the World Banks IFC and also the EBRD.
The groups finance director Andriy Buryak deserves credit for this success, but I a sure he had significant help from one of the big four.

See: http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/04/01/ukraine-the-hunt-for-corporate-credit/