On August 26, ForUm presented an analysis by Jack Jordon entitled, “Ukraine: After the Party.”  Unfortunately, the article jumped on the “criticize-the-government” bandwagon using several questionable interpretations of the current situation in the country.  

Primarily, the article contained a noticeable anti-Tymoshenko tilt, which appears to be based on information skewed to fit the author’s negative attitude toward the prime minister.

Most important, Mr. Jordan makes several criticisms of Ukraine’s economic policy that are very questionable.  For example, he suggests that a “large budget deficit” has been forecast.  This is not the case.  While there will be a deficit, it is forecast to be smaller than during 2004, and well within the deficit corridor established by the EU for its member countries.  Mr. Jordan also states, “Ukraine's rate of inflation for the first quarter of the year was the highest of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.”  But it is disingenuous to blame Tymoshenko’s government for inflation during the first quarter of the year, since December 2004 monetary emissions by the Kuchma government caused massive economic problems during the first quarter of 2005.

It is also important to note that Tymoshenko’s cabinet came to power in mid-February, halfway through the first quarter, and that inflation since has slowed markedly.  Mr. Jordan is correct that Ukraine’s inflation level of 4% was the highest in the CIS during the first quarter. However, he curiously did not mention that inflation slowed to under 2.5% in the second quarter, is expected to decrease further in the third quarter, and that Russia, in fact, had a higher inflation rate over the first six months of the year than Ukraine.  While inflation remains a major problem that must be combated, analysis should examine the entire issue.

Even more, Mr. Jordan suggested that the World Bank has threatened to stop loan disbursement, “unless stricter controls are introduced.”  This is simply incorrect.  In fact, on July 6, Paul Bermingham, World Bank Director For Ukraine, Belarus And Moldova said,  "We now see a real opportunity to pursue the fundamental reforms needed to secure for Ukraine sustained strong growth and poverty reduction. Working with our development partners, we are responding quickly with a larger package of loans and advice designed to take advantage of this opportunity."  To suggest otherwise is reckless as it is potentially harmful to Ukraine’s attempts to attract foreign investment.

Mr. Jordan also suggests that Tymoshenko is “wanted for embezzlement” in Russia.  In fact, although the Russian authorities are attempting to charge Tymoshenko with something, and have mentioned embezzlement at press conferences, it in unclear for what she is actually wanted.  This is because the Russian military court (which summarily took over the case after the Russian Supreme Court dismissed numerous related charges) refuses to inform her attorney, or the Ukrainian government, why she is being investigated.  Most analysts agree that the case is political, and is being used as leverage by Russia in negotiations over things like gas price and membership in the CES and CIS.  It is unfortunate that Mr. Jordan followed the Russian lead in using the case in his article. 

Additionally, while I wholeheartedly agree that Viktor Yushchenko’s Nasha Ukraina electoral bloc has not been united at all times, the bloc never included communists or socialists, as Mr. Jordan stated.  It did not even include the party of the prime minister.  While the Power of the People non-electoral coalition did, it was always viewed as a temporary grouping for the presidential election.  This is one of the biggest issues facing Yushchenko, and his inability to form a coalition is disappointing.  But, the electoral coalition did not fall apart, since it was never there.

Along those lines, Mr. Jordan criticizes the prime minister for “jealously guarding her job from the rest of the cabinet.”  In fact, close examination shows that the cabinet is quite firm in its support for Tymoshenko (with one or two notable exceptions).  She is clearly guarding her position, but not from her own cabinet – instead, from those business leaders within the Yushchenko secretariat who object to her business-related policies.  For more information, please research the rivalry between the prime minister and the head of the National Security and Defense Council, Petro Poroshenko.  Again, the fact that the president has not been able to end this rivalry is a problem, but it is not a problem only of Tymoshenko’s making.

Finally, I notice that Mr. Jordan discusses criticism of Yulia Tymoshenko’s daughter for her “extravagant lifestyle” while living in London.  I cannot comment since I do not live in London and am unclear what criticism she received in the press there.  But I see that Mr. Jordan has avoided the scandals surrounding the lifestyle of Yushchenko’s son in Ukraine.  It is interesting that this topic was portrayed as it was in Mr. Jordan’s article.

As someone who was affected by the power and commitment of the Ukrainian people during the Orange Revolution, I feel an important responsibility to represent the events within their country as factually as possible.  Yes, the government has made mistakes – some big, some small – but it has also made progress.  It should be criticized and praised based on concrete facts, not questionable interpretations.  When this is done, it becomes clear that events are moving slowly forward in a positive direction.  As the Kyiv Post recently noted when discussing the environment in Ukraine, “Things are vastly better – and on Independence Day this year, that’s reason to celebrate loudly.”


Tammy M. Lynch

Earhart Research Fellow Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology & Policy

Boston, MA USA  

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