Dear Mr. President Poroshenko,
As a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage and someone who has dedicated at least all of my adult life to Ukrainian issues including working on democracy development during my nearly ten years living in Ukraine, I would like to congratulate you on your election on May 25, 2013 and upon your inaugural address which you made on June 7, 2014. I wish you Godspeed in trying to accomplish all that must be accomplished during the very difficult times for our nation.
Yes, I have claimed Ukraine as “our” nation because true Ukrainians wherever they may be hold Ukraine in their hearts and minds. While still under the yoke of Soviet oppression many Ukrainians beyond its borders carried our flag when no one had an inkling of the significance of the azure blue and yellow of our country’s flag. Things have changed greatly in nearly a quarter of century though it is due time that Ukraine takes its place amongst civilized and dignified nations.
I would now like to comment on your inaugural address. Not as some highly paid analyst, but as someone who looks at things in a slightly different way. Anyone who has read my commentary in the past clearly know where my loyalties lie.
No Modern Ukrainian Nation Without Bloodshed
While the world in the past held up Ukraine as a poster-child of democracy just a little more than nine-years ago after the Orange (R)evolution, I somehow understood very quickly that I was completely justified in refering that period in 1994 as a period of evolution and not revolution. In 2011 I was asked to write an OP-ED for a Ukrainian e-publication, due to some tecnical difficulties I ended up having to self-publish my opinion piece, entitled “Bigger Sticks and Carrots, for Some in Ukraine”. In that piece I clearly put forth the following:
“While I do not condone violent uprising in Ukraine as a way of bringing about the needed changes, it is a prospect that seems to become increasingly realistic if the current authoritarian trends continue to be exerted further and further. People are now being pushed and jostled a little harder than Kuchma dared to push! The decisively anti-national, and socio-economically erosive policies are in fact, riling people in Ukraine to the point that I have not once on various Ukrainian fora seen it being asserted that peaceful means of resistance are no longer considered to be a viable option.”
Apparently, my writing had sparked some discussion and one individual mentioned that sometime before my statements above, former Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Dr. Yuri Shcherbak speaking to a Toronto audienced stated that “he believed the situation in Ukraine will not be changed without violence.”
Mr. President Poroshenko, unfortunately, my statements somehow became prophetic. There were many heros in Ukraine’s past – though these contemporary heroes, Ukraine’s Heavenly Hundred was just the beginning, unfortunately. Since then through criminal means have been used to try to destablize Ukraine and more innocent lives were lost. It was very appropriate that you had a moment of silence for these heroes. There have been others who have become innocent victims of these criminal/terrorists with extremely modern and foreign weaponry clearly pointing out who is santctioning their criminality. Those responsible have to be brought to full international accountability for their terroristic means of trying to destabilize Ukraine.
Fig Leaf and Bandit
Mr. President Poroshenko, I appreciate that you want to get down to business in creatng peace and stability and Ukriane’s territorial integrity! Without these, conducting business in even its simplest forms is not even possible. You for certain understand the importance of stability for distribution networks, and even as a person going about their day-to-day business. Due to the criminal annexation of Crimea I have friends in Canada who’s busineses have suffered a great deal as well as the possibility of Canadian-Ukrainian business projects. Not certain, but could a class action international lawsuit be launched against the perpetrators of this act?
The simple business operations have been denied to the people of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts – and I hear about this daily not only from distant contacts living in those regions, but also from a friend and neighbour who’s wife is from Luhansk and still has family members there. I have another acqaintance now living here who’s brother was involved ATO in those regions and who was seriously injured, and from thousands of kilometres away he has to comfort his mother. Though this even raises a more core issue? Why did these people leave Ukraine?
I wholeheartedly support that you don’t need to be carrying out discussions with criminals and are trying to reach out to the common person in those regions – I believe that due to the media access and choice of media which they have been exposed to they are very suspect of you as President, though nevertheless there are probably thousands of individuals who wanted to vote last week though feared for their lives. Clearly a frank dialogue must be restablished with the people of this doubting region, but also with all of Ukraine.
Regarding mercenaries they should be allowed to ruturn home, though it sould be made official who was financing them and what they cost. If it is criminal Yanukovych, then it is Putin’s responsibility to use his due influence on him and recall those soldiers of fortune being paid no doubt with funds which Yanukovych stole from the Ukrainian people, Putin for the first time in his life do the right thing. Extradite Yanukovych to Ukraine to face trial for his criminality or face the wrath of those he treated like second class citizens, much in the way the pakhan treats his underlings. Remember criminals like him have their own system of justice, so before any of that crap happens it should be also a priority for Ukraine to ensure all the funds he stole are repatriated, because his time of being pakhan are over and those funds will be absorbed by the pakhan of the Russian Federation.
Mr. President Poroshenko, I think that those in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts that doubt just what a criminal Yanukovch ever was and still is. Find a public relations means to show these individuals just what an opulent pig he was. Clearly, the media they were watching in their regions wasn’t lettting them see what a Nero he was. There was no violin for him in his collesium – his Rome burnt in a different way… as he fled to his puppetmaster, his cronies attempted to destry the evidence of just what a scum he was. His vassals of 17 years have to know the truth! Set up travel tours of Mezhyhirya at a reduced rate for those individuals so they can see the opulence with their own eyes. Let the see where their pensions went! I want them all to be free! Even those in Hughesivka – who want to speak Welsh?
Trust no one – Particularly your enemies
Mr. President Poroshenko, it is all very easy to say in retrospect that we should have done this over that! One of those matters was the Budapest Memorandum. Back in the years before that I had many discussions on Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal – in my heart I told friends that I didn’t believe that it would be respected. Particularly with a signatory like Russia that has been lying for the last half millenia of its existence. The friends I debated this the most about were some of the early heros of our country, even before Ukraine introduced the Hryvnia as its national currency!
“But freedom is not given once and forever. One must always struggle for it,” as you stated in your innaugural adress Mr. President is very to the point. I spoke on such a them to many while living in Ukraine with my deceased friend Ilko Kucheriv. In short, a greater part of democracy happens between ballot boxes. This was clearly demonstrated in the last six months in Ukraine. I just hope that peace comes to Ukraine and that we never again experience such violence preceding the vote, as demonstrated by the terrorists in the east of the country. Politicians have to be held accountable and have no right to be above the law. This is not part of a democracy!
Now to the military side of things! There are plenty of theories of how the military became nothing more than a piece of paper! I don’t have time to get into it Mr. President, though I would like to commend those individuals who have used social media in order to crowdsource the funds needed for very short term needs of the Ukrainian army. There are a few individuals should be at least given a thank you, though it is time that the funds needed for Ukraine’s military needs be raised by the state in order to meet its needs.
Regarding true hardware and techonologies! We have some unique manufacturers and now we must ensure they find local and international markets. In this stage of reorientation of the military industrial complex should be carefully evaluated. In addition, with a the type of friend Ukraine has as a neighbour, it is time for Ukraine to re-arm itself in such a way that such wanton use of terror never happen in Ukraine again.
On last matter, it is time that Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies be reformed to meet the standards of Ukraine’s western neighbours.
The Rule of Law for a New Ukraine
Mr. President Poroshenko, in your inaugural address you state, “It’s time to build a new big country. Modern, high-tech, tenable, competitive country.” This is not a new idea, and I’m quite certain I heard such talk in the early 1990s, before Ukraine had a new constitution and before the hryvnia was introduced in the autumn of 1996 as Ukraine’s national currency. However, why hasn’t Ukraine developed as such over all these years? It is actually we could all enumerate a list as long as your forearm, but in fact it is a lot simpler than that. It’s a very simple phrase and principle known as The Rule of Law. Many of Ukraine’s problems can be solved by adhering to this simple princple.
Ukraine has plenty of good legislation on the books though it must be implemented equally and fairly for all citizens of Ukraine as well as to its visitors, and business persons. In order to do there there are many reforms which will be necessary and one of these is to reduce the ratio of police to population ratio and to ensure that those individuals are to there to police are there for the right reasons. This will involve the appropriate screening and training of what will be a new and professional police force. These law enforcement officials must be paid at a level which would put them in a position that would not require them to even have the slightest desire to ask for a bribe of anyone for any reason. In fact doing so would become extremely costly, with fines, relief of duty without pay and possible incarceration. They will have to be examplary individuals who will set an example for the rest of society. Now let’s return to the police to population ratio. I examined this at the beginning of this year in my piece Europe’s Sado-masochistic Approach Towards Ukraine and having done a bit of research I found that “Ukraine has about 644 at a minimum and other sources say that it is closer to 800 police officers to 100,000 population. In Canada that number stands at closer to 202 per 100,000” and most of Europe’s police to population ratios range from 200 to 350 per 100,000 population, though there some anomalies in some countries. A goal should be set to reduce the police to population ratio by fifty percent in the next five years while at the same time improving the qualifications of the officers. The omni-presence of police officers is not good for tourism, particularly when they can’t communicate with tourists and being a positive image of their city and more greatly of all of Ukraine.
You Mr. President Poroshenko, from your own experience know and understand the benefit speaking English affords you. Would you not say that it would be good for police officers to be able to speak more than just Ukrainian or Russian? A half-hearted effort was made in a PR effort to teach officers foreign languages prior to the Euro-2012, this should be a part of continuous improvement of all officers, particularly of those who are in cities considered to be tourist destinations.
When, The Rule of Law – becomes a priority for law enforcement, the judicial system and the population as a whole the changes necessary to “build a new big country” will be much more achievable. In doing so there will be foreign individuals and companies who will be encouraged to invest in the people of Ukraine, its most important resource in order to develop different niches within Ukraine’s economy. The road map to doing business in Ukraine should be clear without any surprishing hair pin turns in the road as often is the case. Disputes between investors and the beneficiaries of such investments bust be dealt with fairly, which has often not been the case since Ukraine has become independent. I hope you Mr. President and the team that you assemble will work fastidiously in this area. It will play an important role in Ukraine’s future and its contemporary history.
A World Culture of Ukraine
You are completely correct in stating, “Nobody will protect us until we learn to defend ourselves.” Mr. President Poroshenko, well said in a military sense. Though those in people in Ukrainian society who are most vulnerable must also be protected by well targeted social policy and the rule of law. However, as grantor of Ukraine’s constitution are you prepared to carry this over to cultural matters as well?
This is an area that will eventually need major reforms, though at this point it is not a priority, though it can be done by all consciencious Ukrainians simply as a matter of choice and the creation of a market demand. It must be given serious consideration if we are to develop a national cultural industry. This would include Ukrainian content laws which promote local musicians. This is something I have been dealing with for the last fifteen years in a number of different ways for Ukraine, but the same komsomol organizations let the garbage prosper at the cost of new talent. Music and culture can be a very vialble industry. Right now in Ukraine it is nothing, because of no structured policy and a lack of vision.
I will give you an example, in Canada because of Federal legislation and the competition created by it, I can hear about twenty contemporary bands who travel internationally, many that have not penetrated Ukraine yet, but who will in time. Sweden is another country who’s cultural industry policy is well developed in exporting its cultural products abroad.
Ukrainian culture needs a policy. Not conceived by political hacks and musicians in favour of one group or another but composed of professionals who want to lift Ukraine culturally to a different level! It isn’t what you think or what the average individual things about it. There has to be a systemic approach to culture, and this means cooperation and shared risk on projects, without the egos that so many seem to have.
This crisis has shown us a physical crisis – which I’m certain not all will ever understand, though the few times below have to be followed trough on in the cultural industry in Ukraine if it is to become a great country we would all like to see it become.
1) The last years of neglience of many aspects of Ukainian life has left us with a lot of third and fourth class artist making money for nothing!
2) We must eliminate the Soviet style of People’s artist which has been simply another corrupt means of civil servants of lining their pockets, let the market decide on who is an artist, writer, performer or whatever other type of designations are given in the arts.
3) Copyright and intellectual property rights have to be respected in both contemporary arts as well as more traditional art forms.
Ukraine is a country full of uncut diamonds, they have to be show respect and given the opportunity to show their brilliance. Through the wise implementation of proper and progressive policies in this area, in concurrence with sticking to The Rule of Law, the progress that will be made in the very short period will give all Ukrainians regardless of where they live to be extremely proud to be Ukraine.
May God bless you and the people of Ukraine Mr. President Poroshenko in the challenges you face.
Sources: President Petro Poroshenko’s Innaugural Address