Headlines, May-June 2012

Russian Millionaire Tosses Paper Money Planes Out of Office Window, Laughs as People Brawl Over Them

Pavel Durov, founder of the popular Russian Facebook-alike VKontakte, took a bread-and-circuses approach to generosity over the weekend, spending time with VK’s vice president tossing paper airplanes made of money out of the company’s St. Petersburg offices.

A crowd soon formed outside the building, eager to catch every 5,000-rouble ($160) bill Durov and his cohort were throwing. As tends to happen in these situations, the scene quickly devolved into an all-out brawl.

“People turned into dogs as they were literally attacking the notes,” said one eyewitness. “They broke each other’s noses, climbed the traffic lights with their prey – just like monkeys. Shame on Durov!”



Ukraine’s Population in Rapid Decline

With ultra-low fertility rates and high death rates, Ukraine will experience the single largest absolute population loss in Europe between 2011 and 2020. Although the resulting labour shortages will push up real wages and thus benefit consumers, lower competitiveness and output will adversely impact the country’s long-term economic growth.


President Putin’s Return to power marked by deserted streets:


Farmland moratorium end likely to be unpredictable

lex Frishberg writes: Nobody knows yet what rules will govern land sales.
Ukraine has long been called “the breadbasket of Europe,” and for one excellent reason: its fertile black soil. The estimated value of this treasure is anywhere between$ 40 and $80 billion. The only problem with investing in such an obviously profitable business was an artificial bureaucratic/legislative barrier commonly known as the “moratorium on alienation of farm land” (the “moratorium”).

As a background, the moratorium prohibits not only alienation of any land that is designated (zoned) as “farmland,” but it specifically bars all foreign citizens and foreign-owned companies from owning such land.

Consequently, foreign investors had no choice but to gain a foothold in agricultural land by leasing it directly from farmers who could legally own their small parcels. The lease term was usually either medium (up to 25 years) or long-term (up to 99 years), with an option to buy out such land whenever the moratorium was lifted.



Political threats to the Ukrainian language
Misinformation has accompanied the current language bill in parliament because of Ukraine’s complex linguistic situation. Unfortunately, Western journalists haven’t succeeded in clearing up the confusion and informing their readers of the real meaning behind this legislative initiative.
Sufficient legislation on language has long existed in Ukraine, offering generous – some say indulgent – guarantees for the Russian language and its speakers.

The binding legislation approved in 1989, “On Language in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic,” properly identifies the Ukrainian language as one of the decisive factors in the national selfhood of the Ukrainian people.

It called for the state to ensure the thorough development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of social life, a principle that was subsequently adopted by the Ukrainian Constitution in 1996.

While giving priority to Ukrainian, the 1989 law also protects Russian language speakers, reflective of the Ukrainian people’s long history of tolerance towards its ethnic minorities.

The 1989 bill calls for the free development and use of the Russian language, which was buttressed in the Constitution of 1996, a document that goes even further in calling for the defense of the Russian language in Ukraine.

Specifically, it sets the conditions for the use of Russian, alongside Ukrainian, in state organs and enterprises. It allows for citizens to address state organs and enterprises in Russian, and for these institutions to respond in Russian.

The same bill allows for judicial proceedings to occur in Russian, including offering testimony and producing all documentation. It requires all state employees to command both Russian and Ukrainian and requires that students learn both languages, beginning in elementary school.

Therefore, the characterization offered by certain Western media (including the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal) that the legislation approved by parliament on June 5 would allow the use of the Russian language in state institutions is false and misleading.

The Russian language has been alive and well in the state institutions of the majority of Ukraine’s oblasts and in most of Ukraine’s cities for the duration of the nation’s 20 years of independence. This is the case even after the alleged Ukrainianization during the Orange era [of ex-President Viktor Yushchenko and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko], which barely occurred. . . .

It was sponsored by alleged 2004 election falsifier Sergei Kivalov and provocateur-for-hire Vadim Kolesnichenko, who denigrates the Ukrainian language and culture at every opportunity he has in front of the media.

As the main reason, it’s worth noting that for the first time since the Orange revolts of 2004, the Party of Regions is no longer the most popular political force, according to an April poll conducted by the Razumkov Center, widely considered to be among the most reliable.

The Fatherland Party founded by imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is now most popular.

The Party of Regions has lost significant support among its electorate, particularly with such maneuvers as passing an oppressive tax code and cutting social payments to veterans of the Afghan War and 1986 Chornobyl clean-up, many of whom live in the party’s cradle of support in the southeastern oblasts.

Indeed on the very same evening that parliament approved the first reading of the language bill, it voted on another bill that creates the opportunity to cut such social payments even further in 2013. Not a bad distraction, eh?

Then there’s the economy. The stock market is down 33 percent year-to-date and the National Bank of Ukraine can’t sell enough five-year notes, despite interest rates of close to 14 percent.

The National Bank also reportedly burned through $1 billion of its international reserves in May alone, bringing them down to $31 billion. Most recently, Business Insider ranked Ukraine as among the world’s five governments most likely to default.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government stands accused by the opposition of plundering close to a third of the $10 billion in state funds spent on Euro 2012, the evidence for some of which exists.

In its desperation, the Party of Regions has turned to the sensitive and volatile language issue as its last trump card to activate its core support base of pro-Russian radicals.

Unfortunately, these elements care little for establishing rule of law and independent jurisprudence in Ukraine, which are issues that are far more relevant to most Ukrainians as tangibly improving their day-to-day lives.

These radicals, who number in the millions, suffer from ignorance of the history of the land that they walk upon, wanting to live in a Ukraine without ever encountering the Ukrainian language that they were raised to hold in contempt by Soviet propagandists.

Ironically, their leaders, including Kolesnichenko, claim to embrace European values, alleging their position is in line with the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, a document whose letter and intent was to defend weak languages from extinction and to ensure their speakers retain the minimum of rights. . . .

The bill thereby dismantles safeguards in the few remaining institutions where the Ukrainian language is flourishing, namely education, voiceover dubbing in cinema and mass media advertising.

The legislation claims to defend such minority languages as Crimean Tatar or Bulgarian, yet there’s no chance that state organs – often lacking funds to pay heating bills or to buy floor cleaning soaps – can accommodate each 10 percent minority in a given district.

Conflicts will become inevitable between the various minorities and the default language will be the majority language in most regions, which is Russian.

The Kyiv Post has printed letters to the editor complaining about the presence of the Ukrainian language, such as voiceover dubbing in cinemas (Ukrainian-language dubbing is non-existent in DVD sales).

Foreign university students have also complained about courses taught in Ukrainian (though much of the coursework, particularly in mathematics and the natural sciences, has been in the Russian language).

Such complaints reveal indifference to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, who were persecuted, and often killed, for asserting their right to live in an environment that provides for the comfortable functioning of the indigenous language of most of these lands.

These complainers should consider that the Finnish language was subjugated centuries ago to the Swedish language, a policy supported by Finland’s own elite. Similarly, the Czech language was once subjugated to German by its own elite too. Ukraine’s so-called elite is no different, embracing Russian and laying the groundwork for the eradication of Ukrainian.



Ukrainian Govt’s Monolingualism Diagnosis

I’ve often remarked on the jaw-dropping stupidity of the Party of Regions currently misruling Ukraine. Whatever they do, they do badly. It’s not just that they’re extremists and thugs; it’s that they’re dumb extremists and cloddish thugs. Smart extremists wishing to destroy Ukrainian identity would never have appointed the widely reviled Dmytro Tabachnyk minister of education. They’d have done it on the sly. Smart thugs who want to destroy the opposition would never have beaten up Yulia Tymoshenko in jail. They’d have arranged for an accident on some country road. Smart crooks would never flaunt the money they’ve stolen. They’d dress like regular folk. Smart supremacists wishing to extirpate the Ukrainian language wouldn’t pass a law that will provoke a patriotic backlash. They’d just discriminate on the sly.

Why are the Regionnaires so dumb? Is it their provincial upbringing amid the smokestacks of the Donbas? Does it come from their Soviet educations? From inhaling too much polluted air? From drinking too much hooch? From getting punched in the nose a few times too many?

Well, I finally have the answer—from none other than the New York Times. In an article titled “Why Bilinguals Are Smarter,” Times science writer Yudhijit Bhattacharjee notes the following:

Speaking two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

Sonofagun! Makes perfect sense to me. The Regionnaires are known for their unwillingness and inability to speak Ukrainian. Indeed, they’re proud of their single-minded dedication to Russian.



Billionaire Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s minister of trade and economic development decided to increase the tax on car imports. Poroshenko is also owner of struggling Ukrainian car company.

From Korrespondent:

Defending the initiative to increase taxes, Poroshenko said : “I contend that today there is every reason, so as to protect the Ukrainian market … and successfully developed its own production and increase investment in the industry.”

Just before the company Bogdan Motors has announced that production at its factory in Cherkassy decreased 2.08 times as compared to May last year. This fact once again confirms that Ukrainian consumers prefer foreign cars before production Bogdan Motors.

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