Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bags full of bank notes and a plot to bring down a prime minister: Politician makes claims of vast corruption in Ukraine

Senior government figures in Ukraine, whose government has received billions of dollars of international funding since the uprising that toppled former dictator Viktor Yanukovych, have been accused of massive political and financial corruption by a senior former ally.

Pro-Western president Petro Poroshenko’s office strenuously denies the allegations, which have been made by former parliamentarian and oligarch Alexander Onishchenko. Mr Onischenko has fled to London where he now lives in exile having himself been accused of corruption by Ukrainian authorities. 

In a series of extraordinary allegations, Mr Onishchenko claims his candidacy to become a Ukrainian MP was suddenly able to overcome administrative hurdles after he paid a senior parliamentarian $6m.

He also claims that he was asked by the senior government figure to orchestrate and fund a smear campaign against the former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The campaign, he said, cost nearly $3m a month and ran for nearly 10 months. Mr Yatsenyuk resigned in April this year after his popularity collapsed.month and ran for nearly 10 months. Mr Yatsenyuk resigned in April this year after his popularity collapsed.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Storm as woman, 24, gets key Ukraine job

Political storms are nothing new to Ukraine, but unusually the latest surrounds a young woman who has landed one of the country's top police and security jobs.

Anastasia Deyeva, 24, has been appointed a deputy interior minister, unprecedented for anyone of her age. And some Ukrainians think she is not qualified for the job.

"There's nothing wrong about a woman being an adviser, especially if she's pretty and smart," was one typical comment on Facebook. "But it's very wrong if she's that young and has no experience. Or the wrong kind of experience.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NATO's second-largest military power is threatening a dramatic pivot to Russia and China

Business Insider Turkey is looking into joining a Chinese- and Russian-led alliance known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Sunday at the end of his official tour of Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Erdogan said he met with SCO leaders over the weekend and expressed his interest in joining the Eurasian political, economic, and military alliance as an alternative to joining the European Union, which has not been receptive to Turkey's repeated bids for membership that began in 1963. 
Joining or even threatening to join the Shanghai bloc — which is heavily influenced by Russia and China — would rattle the West and, as Erdogan said on Sunday, would "considerably broaden" Turkey's "room for maneuver."

"If Turkey were to actually join the SCO, it would, of course, drastically alter relations with the US and NATO," Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst and policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, told Business Insider on Monday.

"It would be viewed as a rejection of the Western alliance and make it incredibly difficult to include Turkey in any type of high-level strategic dialogue, given concerns about Russian expansionism," he said, adding that Turkey, unlike other NATO members, is already a partner country to SCO dialogue.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

In Estonia, Caution but Surprising Cheers for Trump’s Victory

NARVA, Estonia — Barely a few hundred yards inside NATO’s jittery eastern border with Russia, a high school teacher asked students in his social studies class this week to address a topic of paramount importance for their future: the election of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States.

“If World War III starts, we will be the first to know about it,” said one of the students in the 12th-grade class who, in keeping with school policy, gave only his first name, Nikita. Odd though it may seem, in view of the threat that a newly aggressive Russia may pose, he and many other students in this Russian-speaking town welcomed Mr. Trump’s victory because, they said, the billionaire wanted to cut a deal with Moscow and calm tensions

Friday, November 11, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mikheil Saakashvili Resigns Post in Ukraine, Citing Corruption

MOSCOW — Mikheil Saakashvili, a former president of Georgia who was brought into the Ukraine government to set an example of transparency and clean government, resigned on Monday and accused Ukraine’s president of supporting corruption.

Mr. Saakashvili, who was appointed governor of the Black Sea region of Odessa by President Petro O. Poroshenko in May 2015, said he was leaving because of the central government’s unrelenting obstruction of his efforts to root out graft.

Friday, November 4, 2016

US and Russia: Insecurity and Mistrust Shape Mutual Perceptions

A very interesting survey was just released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  It shows the high degree of mistrust and anger felt towards the US by Russians that followed the encroachment of NATO and other actions after the dissolution of the USSR.

The first major dip occurred during the NATO military attack on Serbia, the second during the Western backed Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the third during the attack by Georgia against Russian backed South Ossetia, and the last during the Western backed coup against the democratically elected government of Ukraine during Maidan Revolution.  This last one has resulted in a prolonged anger towards the US that has lasted almost 3 years and may mark a true sea change in Russian attitudes towards the US.  Russians seem to have abandoned any notion that the West is a friendly partner, and support a strong position against any action deemed unfriendly. 

I've just included just two of the charts, there are many others as well as interpretive text, well worth reading in full.  You can find the survey here or by clicking the title of the post.
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