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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Mar 22, 2004, 1:00 am ET

    If you were an oligarch ...
    by Tony Leliw

    Between five and seven million Ukrainians have left their homeland in search of a better life in the last decade.

    Whatever excuses the apologists for the government may come up with, these people have given up on the ballot box and instead voted with their feet.

    There's no hiding that more than a decade ago the population of Ukraine stood at more than 52 million - figures produced last January showed this had dropped to 47, 622, 436.

    Although it would be unfair to blame this all on migration, the fear is that the population will continue to decline.

    This year is going to be crucial to Ukraine's future with its impending October election - and it will be interesting to see if the country once known as "the breadbasket of Europe" can pull itself out of the mire.

    Whatever happens, Ukraine's political and economic problems are not going to change overnight.

    The ever-growing diaspora is watching from the sidelines, and has its own solutions.

    If the country is run by oligarchs, Tony Leliw poses the following question: If you had their financial and political power, what would you do to improve Ukraine's situation, and what lasting legacy would you like to leave?

    Taras Kuzio

    British-born Dr Taras Kuzio, a resident fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada, says his priority would be to put President Leonid Kuchma on trial for abuse of office and manslaughter.

    "I would then do a deal whereby the oligarchs keep their illegal proceeds from the 1990s but stay out of politics, in return for not blocking opposition leader Victor Yushchenko becoming president this year."

    The son of Ukrainian-Italian parents, Mr Kuzio adds: "The deal would include the forcible emigration of President Kuchma's chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk from Ukraine with no right to ever return and confiscation of his assets inside Ukraine."

    Mr Kuzio would also change the political landscape radically by making opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko prime minister, Oleksandr Moroz parliamentary speaker and Stepan Khmara ambassador to Russia.

    The rest of his shopping list would include:

  • Banning the Communist Party, in the same way as Nazi parties were banned in Austria, Italy and Germany.
  • Purging the Security Service, Interior Ministry and Tax Administration by forcibly retiring anybody over 50 on a full salary, and placing young people under 45 in charge of the Ministry of Defence, Security Service and Interior Ministry
  • Threaten to abrogate the 1997 agreement allowing Russia basing rights for the Black Sea Fleet until 2017 unless Russia withdraws all territorial claims to Ukraine (including Tuzla island) and agrees to the demarcation of the border.
  • Seek to radically improve relations with the USA. One step would be to open up files showing Ukraine's involvement in illegal arms trading in the 1990s.
  • Seek to join NATO at its 2007 summit by fulfilling a Membership Action Plan from 2005-2007.
  • Begin to seriously undertake domestic, political and economic reforms with an eye to signing an Associate Agreement with the EU.
  • Withdraw from the CIS Joint Economic Space and limit to a minimum any involvement in the organisation.


    * * *

    Stefan Ciapryna, 17 year old student from London, says: "Recently the constitution has been in the process of being revamped; I fear further upheaval of this sort will lead to a totalitarian regime, with an all powerful government in what can only be described as an 'elective dictatorship'.

    "If I had power in Ukraine I would choose wisely what, if anything, is to be changed, allowing the electorate to have the most possible say.

    "Secondly, what may be news to you is the rewinding of time essentially in Ukraine. What I mean is the control the police and essentially government are trying to regain.

    "In the past few weeks, people travelling to Ukraine must register with the police within 24 hours of arrival. Then, every time they move place, they must again register with the local police.

    "This is just as the old soviet system was in 1989 under Gorbachev's reign. Have we learnt nothing from fighting for our independence? I would abolish this practice as it will discourage people from coming to Ukraine making tourism non-existent.

    "The corrupt government should have been chucked out on 24th August 1991 when we gained independence. There needs to be a shake up; government is supposed to educate its people not revert to old soviet ways!

    "Here comes the point that Russian is once more the first language. Ukrainian should be compulsory in public, and if people want to speak Russian, they can do it at home.

    "What the church is trying to do, by setting up new churches and turfing out the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Kiev is good. I would further support and fund this, trying to recruit and educate people in religion.

    "Building memorials for things such as the famine of 1932-33 is a must, as many Ukrainians died in this short time span as Jews in the Holocaust!

    "I would educate Ukrainians living there as well as the other world governments once and for all; and not give them soviet propaganda that hides the true extent of murder that took place not only in the famine, but in both world wars.

    "More money needs to be invested into sport. There is nothing that raises the profile of a country more than sport.

    "Ukrainians were always the backbone of the former Soviet Olympic/football teams, so lets show the world what we are made of."


    * * *

    Bohdan Mysko, 57, a chartered electrical engineer working in the water industry in London, says: "I would set up a satellite station which would broadcast all political points of view.

    "Other ideas would include: creating a venture capital fund which would be made available to small businesses, a network of privately-owned kiosks which could sell any newspapers and magazines, preferably in the Ukrainian language; and promote Ukrainian agricultural produce through a large national supermarket chain, which eventually would start selling its produce abroad.

    "My lasting legacy would be to leave an imprint on the country, by influencing the development and evolution of a more balanced and democratic state. Freedom of speech has been lacking there for centuries."


    * * *

    Stepan Pasicznyk

    Stepan Pasicznyk, a 40-year-old musician from London, said if he were a business tycoon in Ukraine, he would do three things: "I would plough millions into an independent TV station that supports the likes of opposition leaders Tymoshenko and Yushchenko.

    "Then I would have the best bodyguards employed to protect employees of the TV station, and the candidates it supports.

    "I would also build up the tourist industry on the Black Sea coast as it has massive potential. It would expose Ukraine to the world in a way that would force it to have to adapt."


    * * *

    Anna Batoryk
    Foto: Tony Leliw

    Anna Batoryk, a 41-year-old secretary from London, said: "I would employ some of the best captains of industry in the world to sort out the country's economic and political problems.

    "This could mean giving them top jobs in key industries to turn them around and use their invaluable contacts to win overseas contracts bringing jobs and prosperity to the country.

    "It might not hurt to give a woman the chance to run for president - I'm sure she would tell Mr Putin a thing or too if he tried to meddle in her country's affairs.

    "My lasting legacy would be to set up a fund so that young people could visit different parts of Ukraine so that they could immerse themselves in the rich and varied culture the country has to offer."


    * * *

    Andy Krewniuch

    Andy Krewniuch, a 48-year-old computer programmer from Adelaide, Australia, said: "I would try and help poor people by buying gifts and products and getting international charitable organisations to distribute them.

    "My mother is always sending food parcels and clothes to our relatives in Western Ukraine - they are always writing that money is in short supply and things are so expensive. It's a simple idea but would be hard to implement - because of corruption."

     

    * * * * *

     


    Tony Leliw is a London-based journalist whose articles have appeared in respected publications such as the London Evening Standard and The Times, as well as news services in Ukraine and the U.S.

    Feature stories by Mr. Leliw that have been published on Brama include :

  • Mar 7 04 - Why you'll never find all the eggs in one basket
  • Dec 3 03 - On His Majesty's Secret Service
  • Vilified, slandered and abused for telling the truth about Communism (Oct 1 03)
  • Malcolm Muggeridge Centenary: the journalist who reported that more than 7 million starved to death in Ukraine (Jul 30 03)
  • Christian fundamentalism and corruption: a member of the British House of Lords offers her views on the Iraq war and Ukraine (Mar 24 03)
  • Voting, for a song (May 27 03)
  • The road from Ukraine to Westminster and back (Jan 1 03)

    Email: tony@youwhat.fsnet.co.uk

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    The images and information contained in BRAMA News and BRAMA Press reports may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of BRAMA and/or author/photographer. The views and opinions of authors expressed on Brama.com do not necessarily state or reflect the views of Brama - Gateway Ukraine or its officers, directors or associates.


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