Category Archives: News & Views

What the Odesa Port Saga Means for Reform in Ukraine

(November)

In an interview last October, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman revealed that not a single x-ray scanner was operational at customs checkpoints in Ukraine, suggesting that corrupt customs officers had deliberately damaged the equipment to facilitate criminal activity.

The accusation speaks to the severity of entrenched corruption in the customs services of Ukraine, even amid a slew of post-Maidan reforms to improve the trade and investment climate. Perhaps no other economic hub captures this tension between vested interests and substantive change better than the Odesa ports on the Black Sea. The recent return of wholesale corrupt practices to Odesa ports demands attention: it underscores the necessity of sustained political will to implement reform and the ongoing threat to both economic prosperity and national security that corruption poses in Ukraine.

https://anticorruptiondigest.com/anti-corruption-news/2017/11/07/what-the-odesa-port-saga-means-for-reform-in-ukraine/

On the off chance that you didn’t think Poroshenko was corrupt: Candy Company Plans Haunt Ukrainian President

Every time there is a major leak of offshore documents, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko seems to get caught in another discrepancy regarding his plans for Roshen, his candy company.

The latest leak, the Paradise Papers, gives the most detailed view to date of Poroshenko’s true intentions for the troubled restructuring of his confectionary empire.

During his election campaign, Poroshenko publicly promised to sell his business if elected. But just days afterwards, his lawyers were asking a legal services firm to set up a structure that would allow him to move his company offshore, evade Ukrainian taxes, and stash money abroad. Citing the risks of associating with him, the firm eventually declined to deal with Poroshenko.

He ended up setting up a similar offshore structure with a different, less wary firm.

A separate financial filing discovered by reporters raises questions about whether Poroshenko’s claims not to have moved any Ukrainian cash to his offshore holdings are true.

https://www.occrp.org/en/paradisepapers/candy-company-plans-haunt-ukrainian-president

Russia organized 2 sides of a Texas protest and encouraged ‘both sides to battle in the streets’

A Facebook page named Heart of Texas, whose link to Russia was first reported by Business Insider, organized a rally at noon on May 21 at the Islamic Da’wah Center in Houston to “Stop Islamization of Texas.” The account paid to promote the event, which was viewed by about 12,000 people, said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr.

Another Russia-linked account, United Muslims of America, organized a counterprotest — a “Save Islamic Knowledge” rally.

As The Daily Beast reported in September, the United Muslims of America page was impersonating a real nonprofit organization. More than 2,700 people saw an ad placed by the account that targeted people in the Houston area, Burr said.

http://www.businessinsider.de/russia-trolls-senate-intelligence-committee-hearing-2017-11?r=US&IR=T

US State Department comment on Ukraine’s corruption

Recent events – including the disruption of a high-level corruption investigation, the arrest of officials from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), and the seizure of sensitive NABU files – raise concerns about Ukraine’s commitment to fighting corruption. These actions appear to be part of an effort to undermine independent anti-corruption institutions that the United States and others have helped support. They undermine public trust and risk eroding international support for Ukraine.

As Secretary Tillerson has said: “It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption. Anti-corruption institutions must be supported, resourced, and defended.”

Reflecting the choice of the people of Ukraine, the United States calls on all branches of Ukraine’s government to work together cooperatively to eliminate corruption from public life. Eliminating corruption is key to achieving stability, security, and prosperity for all Ukrainians.

a horrifying 23 percent of Americans between ages 21 and 29 believe that Stalin was a “hero.”

The admiration of young people for communist leaders is slightly down from last year, according to the annual report on U.S. attitudes toward socialism, which was released by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Joseph Stalin saw the greatest fall in popularity, from 12 percent of millennials reporting a favorable impression of him down to 6 percent. However, a horrifying 23 percent of Americans between ages 21 and 29 believe that Stalin was a “hero.” Also, 32 percent of millennials hold a favorable view of Karl Marx, slightly down from 34 percent last year.

http://humanprogress.org/blog/what-millennials-should-know-about-the-soviet-union

RIP

29y.o. Ivan Dubey passed away in Mechnikov Hospital, Dnipro on Dec 7. Critically wounded in the head by sniper bullet near Novozvanivka, Luhansk Obl Dec 3. From Vorona, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast; served in 10th Mountain Assault Brigade

Exaggeration, but Poroshenko needs to go: “The West Backed the Wrong Man in Ukraine”

It’s become increasingly clear that Obama-era U.S. politicians backed the wrong people in Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko’s moves to consolidate his power now include sidelining the anti-corruption institutions he was forced to set up by Ukraine’s Western allies.

Poroshenko, who had briefly served as Ukraine’s foreign minister, looked worldlier than his predecessor, the deposed Viktor Yanukovych, and spoke passable English. He and his first prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, knew what the U.S. State Department and Vice President Joe Biden, who acted as the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, wanted to hear. So, as Ukraine emerged from the revolutionary chaos of January and February 2014, the U.S., and with it the EU, backed Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as Ukraine’s next leaders. Armed with this support, not least with promises of major technical aid and International Monetary Fund loans, they won elections, posing as Westernizers who would lead Ukraine into Europe. But their agendas turned out to be more self-serving.

While Ukraine was in existential need of Western money, Poroshenko and his political allies followed the conditions attached to the aid. Among other things, parliament voted to set up an independent National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) that was supposed to investigate graft, and a special anti-corruption prosecutor.

Gradually, however, it became clear that though the agency and the prosecutor could make loud noises and investigate hundreds of cases (about 400 so far), they found it hard to make charges stick because the largely unreformed court system pushed back. Ukraine’s European and U.S. allies demanded that a special anti-corruption court be set up. Poroshenko, however, has been lukewarm about the idea, pointing out that few countries had such an institution. Despite repeated Western demands, backed by a group of young pro-Western legislators, Poroshenko still hasn’t submitted a legislative proposal on the court — even though the Venice Commission, which analyzes legislation for the EU, has provided detailed recommendations on what the bill should look like.

At the same time, Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko, a close Poroshenko ally, began an open war against NABU. An agent of the Anti-Corruption Bureau was detained last week while trying to hand over a bribe to a migration service official, and the bureau’s offices were searched. NABU chief Artem Sytnyk claimed in response that the bribe was part of a sting operation Lutsenko hadn’t known about. That didn’t stop Lutsenko from continuing to attack Sytnyk and his bureau, accusing them of illegal operations and unauthorized cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Poroshenko, while not officially taking Lutsenko’s side, denounced the whole squabble: “There’s so much noise and screaming, so many feathers flying that it’s sometimes reminiscent of some Latin American carnival. It would seem funny if it weren’t so sad.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-05/the-west-backed-the-wrong-man-in-ukraine

Russia’s Anti-Nationalist Censorhip Laws

From a friend:

First, we know that Russia presently, in theory, has a very restrictive speech code against anything “nationalist” or “extremist”. Called Article 282, it’s seen people face prison sentences for very mild statements like “Chechnya [source of Putin’s private army] is a drain on the national treasury and should be made independent”, as well as racial nationalism (or literally just noticing race—as one person found out, mentioning sub-races and super-races in the sense of concentric circles and descent was interpreted as implying superiority and inferiority, and therefore punishable)

Euromaidan Press continuing to mix Neo-Bolshevik bias in otherwise good articles

Intolerance. Post-Soviet people are not always ready to understand or willingly tolerate people of other cultures, societies, religions, or sexualities.

http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/11/24/the-ussr-collapsed-long-ago-but-ukrainian-still-remain-soviet-people-how-ukraine-can-eliminate-bolshevism-of-the-mind/

Intolerance??? Does the author know nothing about the ubiquitous promotion of sexual deviance by Communists?

See sexual depravity a central tenant of early Soviet Union.

Or look up Bela Kun’s “Sexual Revolution” in Hungary.

Concorde Capital Ukraine Daily Nov. 17, 2017, by Z Zawada — anti-corruption failures

Concorde Capital Ukraine Daily Nov. 17, 2017

Ukraine reform progress significant except anti-corruption, EU says

The international community’s patience is getting exhausted with the lack of practical results of Ukraine’s declared fight against corruption, said on Nov. 16 Johannes Hahn, the EU enlargement commissioner. In particular, he pointed to the few reviews performed of electronic assets and income declarations of government employees. “From what I understand, 1.5 million people declared their property,” he told the First National television network. “But if I’m not mistaken, only about 100 have been reviewed. One hundred out of a million and a half is not a result.” He called upon the Ukrainian government to improve its practical results. “The issue is not only in creating institutions or the presence of needed legislation, but in how it’s fulfilled,” he said.

Ukraine is making significant progress with reforms but needs to accelerate them, the European Commission declared in a recent report, as mentioned by the EU Representative to Ukraine on Nov. 15. Structural reforms have led to positive trends in the social and economic spheres, in spite of domestic and foreign challenges, said the report, as reported by the eurointegration.com.ua news site. These reforms include the pension, health and food production systems. Important legislative initiatives were also undertaken this year in the spheres of electricity, energy efficiency and decentralization, said the report, which reviewed Ukraine’s progress in fulfilling the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement since the last Association Council meeting in December.

Ukraine needs to continue to process of creating an independent Anti-Corruption Court, as well as fulfill the requirements of the next IMF tranche, A. Wes Mitchell, the recently appointed U.S. deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the Ukrainian president in a visit to Kyiv on Nov. 15. “It was nice for us to see several important reform laws being approved in Ukraine, but a lot more remains to be done,” he said.

Zenon Zawada: These recent statement continue much of the same story that has characterized the Poroshenko administration, which can be summed up as “too little, too slow.” The Ukrainian president has made an art form out of stretching the West’s patience to the extreme by resisting those reforms and anti-corruption efforts that threaten to restrict his power and authority. The artistry lies in knowing what he can get away with, and in which areas he has no choice but to concede to Western demands. The game will continue to succeed if Poroshenko keeps the Ukrainian public satisfied, enough for re-election in March 2019. However, the current “Rada Maidan” protest, and his weak poll standings ahead of elections, both threaten to ruin his political game.

Ferrexpo raises USD 195 mln in new debt

Ukraine’s largest iron ore pellet exporter Ferrexpo (FXPOLN, FXPO LN) attracted a new three-year credit facility of USD 195 mln with final repayment on 2020, the company announced in a Nov. 17 statement. The credit facility “will be used for general corporate purposes,” the company said. Also, CFO Chris Mawe pointed out that “the facility will significantly reduce the group’s average cost of funding and extend its debt maturity profile.”

Andriy Perederey: Ferrexpo has had strong debt metrics (net debt-to-LTM EBITDA was 0.96x at the end of1H17), which creates the ability to raise new debt facilities. The new credit line is positive for the company’s debt sustainability, as it needs to repay about USD 87 mln in 2H17 and USD 253 mln in 1H18 (including USD 173 mln in Eurobond amortization in April).

We expect the company’s total debt at the end of 2017 will be about USD 682 mln, or a 7.1% yoy decrease. But we retain our neutral view on Ferrexpo bonds, seeing both upside and downside risks to their price being balanced.

Metinvest to purchase 1,800 railcars

Ukraine’s largest steelmaker Metinvest (METINV) reported on Nov. 16 that it plans to purchase 800 railcars by the end of 2017 and 1,000 more railcars in 2018. After these purchases, Metinvest’s fleet of own railcars will reach 4,000 units, the company said, emphasizing that the decision to purchase railcars is related to the worsening deficit of rolling stock in Ukraine.

Dmytro Khoroshun: The railcars’ price will be important to consider. We estimate that a new gondola railcar might sell for about USD 34-38K per unit net of VAT, based on our analysis of Ukrzaliznytsia’s tender expectations and actual purchases in 2017, as well as Kryukiv Railcar’s (KVBZ UK) 2016 financial data. It would be negative if Metinvest acquires railcars at significantly higher prices. We are keeping our neutral view on METINV Eurobonds as we see a high refinancing risk for the next twelve months.

IMC reports 24% drop in 9M17 EBITDA

Farming company IMC (IMC PW) generated USD 81.5 mln in net revenue in 9M17 (a 2% yoy rise), according to its Nov. 17 report. As usual, corn remained the key revenue contributor, accounting for 74% of the company’s total revenue, or USD 60.0 mln.

The company’s cost inflation, which exceeded crop price growth, caused a 9% yoy decrease in gross profit to USD 51.1 bln. Furthermore, inflated SG&A costs (a 52% yoy rise to USD 13.3 mln) caused a 24% yoy decline in EBITDA to USD 42.8 mln. Net income declined 8% yoy to USD 27.6 mln in 9M17.

IMC continued to reduce its leverage, repaying net USD 16.4 mln in 9M17. Its total debt decreased 15% YTD and 8% qoq to USD 70.7 mln as of end-September. Its net debt amounted to USD 63.7 mln (-20% YTD), while its net-debt-to LTM EBITDA ratio was 1.4x as of end-September.

Alexander Paraschiy: As we expected, IMC’s EBITDA is worsening this year, and most likely it will be even weaker next year as the company had a weaker harvest of key crops in the current season. Nevertheless, we remain positive about IMC stock’s mid-term growth, taking into account the company’s strong balance sheet and appealing forward EV/EBITDA multiple of 3.6x.

Investors found bargains in Ukrainian equities on Thursday, Nov. 16. The WIG Ukraine Index of Warsaw-traded stocks climbed 1.9%, led by sunflower oil producer Kernel (KER PW, +4.8%). Dairy producer Milkiland (MLK PW) surged 11.3%. KSG Agro (KSG PW) advanced 4.5%, or 22.1% in two sessions. In London, iron ore miner Ferrexpo (FXPO LN) improved 1.3%, snapping a three-session loss streak. Natural gas E&P Regal Petroleum (RPT LN) plunged 20.7%, or 22.0% in two sessions. The Ukrainian Exchange (UX) Index of Kyiv-traded stocks increased 0.6%.

Ukrainian Nationalists make showing to Hungarians in Uzhgorod

Ukrainian nationalists – members of the Karpatska Sich organisation – held an action under the Hungarian Consulate in Uzhgorod to prove that the right movement of Zakarpattia are not chauvinists, but rather seek to find points of contact and understanding with neighboring nations, including Hungarians.

In such a tense time for Europe and Ukraine, we can not tolerate manifestations of chauvinism among the European and Slavic nations. Liberals and capitalists keep sowing enmity between by using of provocative historical and cultural conflicts while the European space keep on being filled with migrants and degenerate ideas.

https://ukrainiancrusade.blogspot.com/2017/11/no-to-chauvinism-yes-to-national.html