Weekend Reading

Ukraine Naftogaz to get USD 630 million in capital from state: http://www.steelguru.com/russian_news/Ukraine_Naftogaz_to_get_USD_630_million_in_capital_from_state/183975.html

The law with overly broad protections of personal data came into force on Jan. 1, Ukrainska Pravda news site reports: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/94030/#ixzz19yj98L2j

Germany, France ambassadors on democracy, freedom of speech and anti-corruption campaign in Ukraine: http://zik.com.ua/en/news/2011/01/03/264928

Nobody is suggesting that previous regimes were not guilty of using selective prosecutions and the use of enforcement, regulatory and judicial bodies for political ends. Recent developments, however, create serious concern due to their scale and, in many cases, overt disregard for constitutional norms. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/94026/#ixzz19yhm34b5

This next article is a little too in love with its own writing, but it contains wonderful anecdotes about business and justice, including IKEA’s experience in Russia. Note that Ikea abandoned its Ukraine business for similar reasons. http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/andrei-loshak/kafka%E2%80%99s-castle-is-collapsing?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=201210&utm_campaign=Nightly_2010-12-26%2005%3a30

Ukrainian officials say nine members of a nationalist organization have been arrested in western Ukraine, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reports. Interior Ministry officials in the Ivano-Frankivsk region has said the Trizub (Trident) members arrested on January 10 came to the region from other parts of the country and were armed. Police say they confiscated an AK-47 assault rifle, three pistols, ammunition, nine walkie-talkies, knives, two grenades, two sniper rifles, and a pump-action rifle from the activists. http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine_nationalists_detained_arms_cache/2273347.html

Yanukovych vetoes ban on leasing health establishments for other uses. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/94615/

Azarov blames supermarkets for raising prices of buckwheat. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/94995/

Government creates Institute of National Memory. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/94986/

Two bombs exploded simultaneously in the eastern Ukrainian town of Makiyivka on Thursday and a threat was made of more attacks later in the day, police said. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/95232/

Unity Day celebration. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/95402/

Maidan walled off, possibly for fear of protests. Attendees of a pro-Party of Regions rally get paid 100 hryvnias each to attend: http://translate.google.com/translate?langpair=auto|en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fukrainian%2Fmultimedia%2F2011%2F02%2F110223_yanukovych_bbc_ak_it.shtml

The IMF mission and Ukraine’s government have not reached a staff-level agreement by the end of the mission visit, and the Fund will continue discussions with the government before deciding on the disbursement of the next SDR 1bn ($1.6bn) loan tranche from the $15.6bn Stand-By program. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/business/bus_general/detail/97225/

Ukraine, IMF reach compromise on further credit program. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/business/bus_general/detail/97329/#ixzz1FCMERKTn

Tymoshenko slams IMF for legitimizing corruption in Ukraine. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/business/bus_general/detail/98252/

ArcelorMittal, one of Ukraine’s largest foreign investors, which runs Ukraine’s largest steel mill, is considering establishing a separate department to respond to twice-daily inspections by state bodies. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/business/bus_general/detail/97448/#ixzz1FCMn0NTB

Ever wonder why most Ukrainians live so poorly although the nation is one of the world’s leading exporters of steel, chemicals, weapons and food? Experts blame ubiquitous corruption and insider dealing that cost the nation billions of dollars each year. Future generations will pay for today’s graft as the nation sinks more heavily into debt. Ukraine’s reliance on foreign loans has raised its public debt to $54 billion, even as the government still hopes to tap up to $12.1 billion more in loans from the International Monetary Fund. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/97465/

The Kyiv Post stopped serving web pages to British IP addresses because of a liable suit brought against them by one of Ukraine’s oligarchs. Since then, a UK judge dismisses the Firtash libel lawsuit against the Kyiv Post. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/98219/#ixzz1FCTZlaWR

Kyiv Post Jan 14:

Prized Kyiv monopolies target of insider wars
” With Kyiv’s eccentric and controversial Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky now serving a mainly ceremonial role, the lid is being lifted on some of the deals that happened under his rule — and what’s beneath is proving very murky.
The new city administration — led by pro-presidential appointee Oleksandr Popov — is battling to reclaim through courts prized city assets after it emerged that one company, Novy Region, had acquired large stakes in several leading municipal companies that were never officially, or at least transparently, privatized by the city.
But concerns have been raised that shares in the lucrative and prized city-owned companies, including utilities with monopolistic positions on the market, could be resold to insiders close to President Viktor Yanukovych’s team at below-market prices, as happened when he was prime minister in 2006.
Experts said municipal companies that provide everything from electricity, heat, water and sewage services desperately need investment and could benefit from private ownership. But they warn that stocks sold in shady deals to well-connected businessmen could bilk a chash-starved city budget, while generating big profits for the new owners without improvement in services.”

Coal smuggling case ends in favor of ArcelorMittal
“A court in Ukraine has dismissed charges of coal smuggling against the local unit of ArcelorMittal, the company said on Dec. 7. . . . In September . . . customs service seized 100,000 metric tons of coking coal imported by ArcelorMittal’s smelter in the city of Kryvy Rih.”

Azarov: Time to lift ban on agriculture land sales
“Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov threw his weight behind the privatization of farmland, including sale to foreign investors.”

Corruption probes look like political reprisals to many

Numerous investigations target Yanukovych’s foes