Regionnaire-ruled Ukraine moved a few notches closer to becoming a Surrealistic country this summer. Judge for yourselves.
On June 22nd, the Dzerkalo tyzhnya weekly reported on a really swell strategic defense initiative developed by Ukraine’s minister of defense, the tough-guy brawler and pogromchik Dmitri Salamatin. The minister’s got his thinking cap on, and he’s come up with 78 new forms of “economic activities” for Ukraine’s underfunded, undernourished, and undertrained armed forces. If Dmitri has his way, Ukraine’s soldiers will soon be raising cattle, horses, birds, pigs, sheep, and goats and growing berries, nuts, and fruits. Hey, who needs NATO, when you’ve got swine in your backyard? So remember, next time you have a steak in Ukraine, you’re really helping Dmitri of the Big Fists transform Ukraine’s soldiers into a world-class fighting force.
On July 4th, the Ukrainian Parliament approved draft law No. 9634, which relieves state-owned enterprises from the obligation of engaging in tenders when procuring a whole bunch of goodies such as land, property, services, and other products. Unsurprisingly, President Yanukovych subsequently signed the bill. To be sure, Ukraine’s tenders have historically been rigged, but the brazenness of the Regionnaires’ open endorsement of graft, theft, and kickbacks is jaw-droppingly spectacular. On the other hand, what the hell, right? Why pretend football stadiums and airport terminals cost twice as much as they should cost? Why not streamline theft by removing all that red tape? Heck, why not really streamline things and just get rid of the budget? Jeez, why not declare Ukraine the president’s estate and be done with all those stupid little formalities such as elections, parties, newspapers, and so on?
But wait, things got better.
On July 12th, Russian President Vladimir Putin was supposed to meet Yanukovych in Yalta for a high-level powwow. Putin was more than four hours late. Reasons of state? A sudden illness? An ingrown toenail? Another invasion by that hotbed of imperialist aggression, Georgia? Nyet. Turns out that Russia’s Great Leader was flexing his muscles with a biker gang. Here’s how the Interfax news agency described the event.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin started his current visit to Ukraine from [sic] dropping in a bikers’ club called Night Wolves near the city of Sevastopol.
Mr. Putin is a frequent visitor of bikers’ shows, and in the club, he met many of his old friends, including the club’s head Alexander Zaldostanov, more known under his nickname “Surgeon.”
“Surgeon” invited Mr. Putin to a show which is due to take place in his club on July 20 and 21.
In 2013, The Night Wolves are planning a show devoted to the 17th anniversary of the Stalingrad battle, one of the most decisive battles of WWII. In 2014, they are planning a large-scale meeting of Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian bikers in Serbia.
After visiting the club, Vladimir Putin went to the city of Yalta to hold talks with Ukraine’s President Victor Yanukovych.
The two presidents are going to discuss Russian-Ukrainian economic cooperation and acute problems of the world politics, including the Syrian issue.
What, you ask, was Yanukovych doing in the meantime? Clipping his fingernails? Cracking jokes with his entourage? Envisioning life in Zimbabwe after democracy returns to Ukraine? Trying to hire Surgeon as his minister of health?
On July 24th, the civic group Chesno (“Honestly”), which monitors corruption in the Rada, published its survey of Ukraine’s current parliamentarians. As it turns out, of 449 deputies, only three received a clean bill of health. All the others were involved in various forms of dishonesty, corruption, shenanigans, and the like. In case you’re wondering, that translates into 0.66 percent. The only good news is that all three were not Regionnaires.
Finally, on July 26th, Ukraine’s eagle-eyed Security Service (SBU) uncovered a tunnel that was being used for smuggling cigarettes from Ukraine to Slovakia. The concrete-lined affair is 600 meters long, 90 centimeters wide, is electrified, and has tracks. It’s located some 500 meters from a border guard post and was constructed in full view of the locals living in the area. Clearly, this was no penny-ante operation run by cheap hoods. This was a big-time deal conducted by criminal elements in cahoots with the local authorities and border guards. Might higher-ups in Kyiv also be involved? Why not? Think of the tunnel as a way of bypassing tenders. Who knows? Maybe the tunnel even extends from the border to the presidential palace in Kyiv. Come to think of it, is that why Kyiv’s public places were recently declared smoke-free? But wait! Maybe the tunnel goes on to the Kremlin, and maybe that’s how Putin and Yanukovych really meet?
Thank God that Ukraine closes down for August. Another month like July and Yanukostan would become Dadaist.