Russia » Politics
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Ukraine makes a step towards the Russian business community

Ukrainian media that supported the opposition during the election campaign used one color only for painting an image of Russia

We can basically imagine what kind of a business environment will be created by new Ukrainian authorities for foreign financial and production groups in general and for the Russian business community in particular. All we have to do is look back at the meeting between the Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko and top Russian businessmen that took place earlier this month in Kiev.

Ukrainian media that supported the opposition during the election campaign and the “orange revolution” used one color only for painting an image of Russia. It was the perfect image of an enemy or at least the image of an accomplice of the “old regime.” The Russian business community was also painted black. As a rule, it was portrayed as a blind tool used in the Kremlin's brinkmanship.

No wonder that Irina Khakamada, Boris Nemtsov and a few other Russian liberals were greatly inspired by the victory of the “orange revolution”. Mr. Nemtsov looked quite natural while standing alongside Mr. Yushchenko in Kiev during one of the numerous rallies. Russian spin doctors were simply hired to pull off the project. They worked for money, not for ideals. And mercenaries can be rehired sometimes.

Mrs. Khakamada hinted at the possible involvement of the Russian “effective policy” specialists in the double game. Speaking to a host of the show broadcast by TVC, the Moscow TV channel, on January 30th 2005, she made it clear that “the election campaign of Mr. Yushchenko was also financed by the Russian businessmen.” According to her, the Russian business community supported Mr. Yushchenko because “Russian businessmen need a transparent, reliable business partner”. Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and political technologist, who took part in the same TV show, expressed a much more interesting point of view. He said, quote, “As for me, today's Ukraine needs a new national project badly since the country has turned into the new historical quality. Yulia Timoshenko is the only prominent politician in Ukraine at the moment whose way of thinking is based on strategic and geopolitical concepts. Besides, she will legitimize the privatization, a plan that has been never carried out in Russia. Major proprietors will pay significant outstanding amounts to the state thus justifying the privatization in the eyes of the people, the privatization will be legalized. Meanwhile, the oligarchs' influence on the government will be terminated. The Russian authorities unveiled their plans to remove the oligarchs from power but they never carried through those plans because they harbored reluctance at the bottom of their hearts. Even if nabobs should topple the new Ukrainian government, Mrs. Timoshenko will still make a perfect leader of the opposition with the power of the east and south of Ukraine as its pillar,” unquote.

So the Russian business people might have provided financial support to the opposition's candidate in the Ukrainian presidential election because they need transparency and predictability. By some strange coincidence, for many years the West has been keen to ensure the same business environment in Ukraine. No matter how improper and complicated were the conditions for doing business in Ukraine under Mr. Kuchma, they were mostly the same as those in Russia and many other countries of the former Soviet Union. They were totally unacceptable to Western companies as opposed to local enterprises found ways to survive and operate. Thanks to the rules of the game that were murky and complicated the Ukrainian private sector took root and became stronger. The rules were used to give the green light to some foreign companies and keep the unwelcome ones at bay. Now the rules have changed dramatically. The new government demands fair business ethics. We can only guess what the future holds for the national Ukrainian businesses and what kind of a niche the Russian companies will be able to fill in the Ukrainian economy under the new conditions.