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Another day, another scandal - the Ukrainian "orange" revolution marks its first 100 days

Victor Yushchenko, Yulia TimoshenkoThe Ukrainian people have survived the first one hundred days with Victor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko at the helm.

 

A few more years lie ahead. The results of the first one hundred days can be used as a forecast for things to come.

 

The Yushchenko regime is a showoff by nature and "Another day, another scandal" seems to be its appropriate motto. The new government laid into Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine's former president, and promised to throw him into jail should he ever return to Ukraine from his overseas vacation. Mr. Kuchma returned to Ukraine. And he is still at large.

 

Victor Yushchenko not only accused his predecessor of "plundering the country", he also accused Mr. Kuchma of taking part in the murder of the opposition journalist Georgy Gongadze. The new president even went on air the to announce that "the case was solved" by the authorities.

 

Yuri Kravchenko, the former Interior Minister and a key witness to the Gongadze case, committed suicide two days after Mr. Yushchenko made his announcement. Mr. Kravchenko was reported to have shot himself twice in the head. 

 

The authorities eventually made it quite clear that Mr. Kravchenko had shot himself because of his unbearable feelings of guilt and thus he acknowledged the collective responsibility of Mr. Kuchma's team for that crime. No further explanations were given. The murder of the journalist was used as a disposable tool for settling old scores.

 

It is arguable that a redistribution of assets became the most notorious project of the new Ukrainian government. The attempts to re-examine the privatization of the Krivorozhstal steelworks could have settled scores with Mr. Kuchma's team. On the other hand, it could have fetched the government a few extra millions of dollars. But the government soon threw in the towel. The court ruled that new owners of Krivorizhstal should keep the facility. The government then rushed to nationalize the Zaporozhye aluminum smelter currently owner by Victor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch. A number of other enterprises owned by Russian businessmen in Ukraine are also on the list. As a result, Ukraine's investment environment worsened dramatically. Russian business community no longer views Ukraine as a partner with good prospects. Meanwhile, Ukrainian business community is not planning to run the risk of dealing with the unpredictable regime of
Mr. Yushchenko either. According to the Ukrainian media, local businessmen are shutting down their shops and looking for potential buyers who might dare express interest in their property.

 

However, Mr. Yushchenko himself is quite content with the first one hundred days of his presidency. Mr. Yushchenko rated the performance of Mrs. Tymoshchenko's government as "very high". He praised the government for its efforts in making the state budget socially oriented and giving pay raises to public sector workers. Although he did not mention that the new government was simply spending tax revenues and operating profit from the enterprises whose economic growth was paid for in the past.

 

The present economic policies which scare off the investors may result in serious fiscal problems facing the government of Mrs. Tymoshenko next year. The government may be unable to fill the state coffers as required. The thing is that the prime minister put a wagon in front of a horse. She devised a detailed plan for spending the money without making necessary arrangements as regards the revenues.

 

In the meantime, some factors indicate that the economic situation in Ukraine is not so optimistic as painted by the official media. Transportation costs became higher, import duties were decreased while tax rates for small and medium-sized enterprises went up. The dollar exchange rate to Ukrainian grivna fell. All the above has a significant negative impact on the Ukrainian economy. The population's living standards are undoubtedly affected. Pay raises and increased pensions paid by the Tymoshenko government can not cover the cost of basic foods and services due to consumer-price inflation.

 

Somebody had better put an end to that first one hundred days of confusion without delay. Otherwise successors to this regime are likely to have solid foundations for building another election campaign while putting all the blame on their predecessors.

 

One can only guess what steps would be taken next by the Ukrainian revolutionaries after a start like that.

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