Ukraine politics

By Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta

Ukraine is set to hold its sixth presidential election on Sunday with chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko riding high ahead of his two rivals: Yulia Timoshenko, a former prime minister and a political prisoner under the recently deposed regime; and Serhiy Tihipko, a defector from the regime’s ruling Party of Regions. In presidential elections held four years ago Timoshenko and Tihipko came second and third, respectively. Continue reading »

While the government in Kiev tries in vain to pacify the pro-Russian military uprising in the eastern regions of Ukraine, new challenges are arising in the far west of the country. The 150,000-strong Hungarian minority of Transcarpathia region is demanding more rights – including greater autonomy and dual citizenship – and Budapest is supporting them against Kiev.

On Friday, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, said that ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring Ukraine should be given political autonomy. “Ukraine can be neither stable nor democratic if it does not give its minorities, including Hungarians, their due. That is, dual citizenship, collective rights and autonomy,” Orban said. Continue reading »

Welcome to Ukraine. You’re running a rickety business, mainly cash-in-hand, that has a big gas bill and is losing money. Your shady Uncle Vlad says he will give you cheaper gas, lend you money on suspiciously favourable terms, and perhaps see his way to giving your workers an extra something in their pay packets. In return, all you have to do is back him up in family disputes in perpetuity. Meanwhile Christine, your steely-eyed bank manager, wants you to turn down the thermostat in your offices, lay off half your staff and stop fiddling the books.

 Continue reading »

Ievgen Vorobiov, Polish Institute of International Affairs.

The four hour Q&A session of Vladimir Putin televised on April 17 was dominated by his vision for Ukraine. He cheerfully accepted congratulations on the “victory” in Crimea from a political opponent and benevolently corrected “hawkish” appeals of an ardent supporter. But the informal talk with Russian citizens, in my view, sent a direct message to the West: you either accept the way we deal with Ukraine or watch us wreak a much bigger havoc in the country. To make that message more palatable to the West, Putin alluded to Moscow’s involvement in the region as showing a “responsibility to protect”. Continue reading »

A wave of patriotism is sweeping Russia following the annexation of Crimea. But will the euphoria last long enough to have Russians invest in the Black Sea peninsula and support the local economy by holidaying there? Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, chaired a government meeting on Monday to discuss how to make Crimea a going concern.

It sounds like a daunting task. The Kremlin took a huge risk when it redrew the map of Ukraine last week and took possession of Crimea. Western powers have condemned the move as a land grab and are threatening Russia with painful sanctions and decades of international isolation. Continue reading »

Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest oligarch, claimed to the Financial Times on Monday that he pleaded with Viktor Yanukovich to resign when he last saw him on February 22, two days after nearly 100 anti-government protestors in Kiev were killed amid sniper fire and clashes with riot police. Continue reading »

The authorities in Kiev are not only in danger of losing control of the political and military situation in the Crimea; they may also lose the major state-owned companies based on the peninsula.

On Wednesday, Rustam Temirgaliyev, Crimean first deputy prime minister, told Interfax that the Crimean authorities were planning to take over state-owned giant, Chornomornaftogaz, which implements offshore oil and gas projects in the Black Sea and Azov Sea, “in the near future”. Continue reading »

By Christopher Granville, Director of Russia Research, Trusted Sources

For investors exposed to Russia and the wider market fall-out from Russia’s military move in the Crimea, it may be helpful to recall the lessons of a previous shock that threatened to undermine the investment case for Russia. The analogy I have in mind is the Yukos affair.

Then, as now, President Putin perceived a paramount interest that he decided to pursue regardless of the high costs to business and financial market confidence. Continue reading »

Ukraine’s parliament appointed in a near unanimous vote on Thursday afternoon Arseniy Yatseniuk, one of the country’s youngest but most experienced politicians, as prime minister to address a swiftly unfolding separatist threat in the autonomous republic of Crimea and a crumbling economy.

Addressing lawmakers nearly a week after Viktor Yanukovich was toppled from the presidency, the 39-year old political ally of recently released opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said: “Today our country finds itself in one of its most difficult and historical moments.” Continue reading »

By Brian Mefford

The Ukrainian people, against all the odds, have won their freedom from tyranny. However, if concrete actions are not taken immediately, these new freedoms will dissipate as fast as support did for the disgraced former president, Viktor Yanukovich. Now is the time for the Parliament of Ukraine to take four forward steps to ensure that the country moves into Europe instead of sliding back into infighting and gridlock, as happened after the 2004 Orange Revolution. To avoid these mistakes, the ability of average Ukrainians to influence the process must be retained and these four forward steps accomplish that: Continue reading »

A falling currency, continuing protests – and a rival bailout?

There is no deal yet in place. But the US, EU and international financial institutions are, according to sources, holding “behind the scenes” talks to package financial assistance that would ensure “economic stability” in crisis-hit Ukraine (and here’s the rub) should a pro-western and reform-minded caretaker government be put in place.

There’s an “if” for you. Continue reading »

This is Ukraine’s $1bn sovereign bond maturing on June 4:

Source: Thomson Reuters

As bond yields soared, the Ukrainian hyrvnia slumped and CDS spreads widened on Friday as the country’s political crisis entered a new phase. Continue reading »

By Graham Stack of bne

Ukraine’s embattled president, Viktor Yanukovich, found himself facing a second front on January 23 as anti-government protesters stormed regional administrations across the west and centre of Ukraine. Ironically, the development came on a day when a ceasefire held between protesters and police in Kiev. While clashes in Kiev are spectacular but largely theatrical, overthrowing state administration in the regions could signal the start of the crumbling of Yanukovich’s power. Continue reading »

By Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta

President Viktor Yanukovich after turning his back on the EU less than a month ago travelled to Moscow on Tuesday to sign agreements that closely bind Ukraine to Russia and Eurasia. Ukraine needs $15-20bn to rescue the country from an economic and financial tsunami brought on, in my view, by the government’s mismanagement and colossal asset stripping befitting a medieval occupation army. Continue reading »

By Lucan Way of the University of Toronto

I am in Kiev right now. It is truly an inspiring scene. The level of spontaneous self-organisation is truly unprecedented. No one who is here can help rooting for those on the street fighting for their ideals. The protests have been far less violent than other protests in the world, including the G20 protests in Toronto in 2010. Simultaneously, President Viktor Yanukovich is weak. His support has plummeted so much that polls show just about any opposition candidate winning against him a second round. His support from the oligarchs is also soft, as evidenced by the relatively balanced coverage on their TV channels. In 2004, only Channel 5 was presenting protests in a positive light. Now it is many channels. This suggests that oligarchs are reluctant to put all their chips on Yanukovich.

Nevertheless, in my view a sober analysis of the situation suggests that at least until 2015, Yanukovich has the clear advantage. Here is why: Continue reading »