Friday, December 12, 2008

For a moment, it looked like hot water was coming back: mama said that something was actually running from our hot water tap - and it seemed not ice cold at first, though not warm, either - but then, to our disappointment, it turned ice cold. There was some hope (and maybe there still is) - because Kyiv prosecutor's office has ordered KyivEnergo to restore hot water supply, and Yushchenko has given similar orders to Chernovetsky.


On the news, some guy from Naftogaz talked about the debts of Kyiv and sounded as if he was someone from Gazprom talking about the debts of Ukraine.

On Savik Shuster's show (and Shuster himself is without hot water now), another Naftogaz guy sounded pretty aggressive towards Chernovetsky. Rightly so, I guess. Chernovetsky is unbelievably inadequate.

But this Naftogaz guy sounded incredibly inadequate himself when he attacked Vitaly Portnikov, who is very sweet and smart and said something that made lots of sense about this whole hot water situation. (And by the end of his appearance on the show, the Naftogaz guy was acting like a total nut - worse than Chernovetsky. Scary shit.)

And it is still not clear whether our hot water will ever return, despite this very long and high-pitched conversation.

Hanna Herman was the only one who brought up Ukraine's debt to Russia, but it sort of got lost in the whole domestic thing.

(Later, she also asked Chernovetsky to tell everyone when exactly we are going to have our hot water back. He said on Monday, after we all rally in front of Naftogaz.)

And it's not clear who the real asshole is - Chernovetsky or Naftogaz. I agree with Portnikov here - both are assholes.

The guy from Naftogaz is totally anti-consumer: the argument that I, a consumer, have paid my bills and thus deserve to have hot water, is not working for him at all: he yells at people who tell him this stuff - Portnikov and some other guy.

Amazing how much this whole situation and the arguments used resemble what we've already seen more than once with Gazprom...


Tomas Tsintsabadze showed up at Shuster's show - all of a sudden, together with his wife, doctor and Oleksandr Moroz's son-in-law - and sounded a bit too out of context. What he was saying was important: prosecutor general's office has taken away his Ukrainian passport, right after the publication of his Ukrainska Pravda interview (RUS) on Yushchenko's alleged poisoning. But his style is so unbearably mafia-style it's almost funny.

Lawyer Tetyana Montyan (who, as far as I remember, used to be friends with Moroz's comrade Tsushko) looked at the paper Tsintsabadze had signed today, asked him a few questions and announced that he shouldn't have signed it - because the paper said something that Tsintsabadze claimed was not true. She made them all look somewhat uncomfortable, I think. Moroz's son-in-law (who is also Georgian and whose name I don't remember) joked that Tsintsabadze knew nothing about laws and that the guys at the prosecutor's office basically forced him into signing the thing (yeah, right), and that perhaps Montyan should be his lawyer - and Montyan seemed to smile a very peculiar smile back at Moroz's son-in-law, a smile I don't know how to interpret.


In the Naftogaz/Chernovetsky/Ministry of Communal Services argument Montyan sounded way cool - talked about the lack of transparency in the way Naftogaz and KyivEnergo work, and about the abundance of bullshit that ordinary Ukrainians have to take from all these politicians. One of the points she made was that even though the communal services minister said that we could all go and sue Naftogaz now, this was crap, because we could only sue our ZhEKs, and our ZhEKs could sue whoever it is that they have agreements on gas supply with, and, basically, Naftogaz is safe because there's no use for ordinary Ukrainians to try and sue the bastards - because the law does not allow us to do it directly.


Ha-ha, Yulia called Chernovetsky inadequate, too - earlier today. He retorted on Shuster's show that she lied when she said she didn't have hot water, like many other ordinary people in Kyiv: according to Chernovetsky, Yulia lives in a $20-million house, is his son's neighbor and isn't affected by the hot water crisis in any way.


Chernovetsky keeps calling his wife's family and children Georgian - while I thought they were ethnic Armenians. Or not? Armenians from Georgia? Like the father of Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov?


Savik Shuster's show is totally addictive. Initially, I was planning to post a brief hot water update - and ended up taking notes like a student for two hours in a row...



  1. When Chernovetskiy told Tomas Tsintsbadze he could come to his office and they "would get him a passport of any country" I was outraged. But then Tomas's wife asked when they could come to which Chernovetskiy replied, "Well, on Saturdays I visit "bomzhatnik"--that's what he calls a free canteen he set up for the homeless. I can't believe he doesn't actually have a medical condition of insanity.

  2. I wonder if Tsintsabadze's wife took the offer seriously - she looked like she may have.

    And it sort of hurt when Tsintsabadze nearly knocked himself down as he was laughing at Chernovetsky's mention of "bomzhatnik" - maybe it's just me, but we spent quite a while hoping that my father could have ended up in that "bomzhatnik" or that perhaps some of the homeless there might have seen him around somewhere, and while Chernovetsky is making me sick in general, there is one thing I'm grateful to him for - and that's his "bomzhatnik."

  3. P.S. Sash jan, do you have hot water? :)

    (As of 3 PM Saturday, we still don't.)

  4. Here's my question, Neeka, because they may be a little hard to understand for readers from other countries:

    If an individual does not pay his/her water bill, or gas bill, is it not possible to shut off the utility to the individual apartment?

    Here, the dispute seems to be that KyivEnerho, which is the city-run utility outfit that provides hot water to Kyiv residents, has not paid Naftohaz.

    Why has the Kyiv administration not paid Naftohaz?

    Tymoshenko claims that it's because Chernovetsky has diverted funds for his own personal use, and that of family and cronies.

    Also - how is it that Chernovetsky's son can afford to live next door to Tymoshenko's $20 million house?

    And how does Chernovetsky fund the bomzhatniks? Surely, it's not through his collection of $50,000 jackets, nor from the 1.2 million hryvnia that he just spent at a car auction for Shcherbytsky's (former commie secretary of Ukraine) old sovok car.

    Where does that money come from?

    And is Kyiv's city budget open to public inspection, as in other cities all over the world?

  5. As far as I know, they can't turn off water in individual apartments. Even when someone's doing repairs and needs to shut off water temporarily, they turn it off to a bunch of apartments, if not in the whole building. Same about when someone's flooding the neighbors and isn't home to turn off water by him/herself.

    As for the rest of your questions, I don't really have the answers. And if you mean them as purely rhetorical questions, well, we all know that Chernovetsky is corrupt anyway. Most of them are.

    How he funds his "bomzhatnik" - I've heard that the place's been around since late-90s. I assume he has spent some of his own money on it. I don't care how he funds it, as long as it's there. I don't even care that they've got some sort of religious thing going on there, because they are doing enough of purely practical stuff as well. That he's getting some positive publicity this way - well, I personally don't mind it: if all of them did something similar on their own money (or the budget money that they are stealing), the city/country would have been a slightly different place.

    As for whether the city budget is open to the public or not - even if it is, what's the use? It's like with the freedom of the press here - you can write anything you like about any of the politicians, be as factual and critical as you can - but the result is that they just shrug it off and continue being the way they've always been: corrupt.

  6. I did not mean them as rhetorical questions.

    Ted Stevens, former US Senator from Alaska, was indicted and convicted of corruption.

    The governor of Illinois, Blagojevych, was just indicted of trying to sell President-elect Obama's Senate seat to any highest bidder. (The governor of Illinois currently has the right to appoint a successor to a vacant US Senate seat.) There is very strong pressure on him to resign.

    You were in the US, Neeka. You know that corruption in office is not taken lightly in the US.

    Why is corruption tolerated in Ukraine?

    Or even poor performance in office?

    Let's say that Chernovetsky did not divert public funds for his own personal use.

    I guarantee you that in the US, people would be screaming for his head if the water was cut off.

    True, the infrastructure in the US is different. Each house, each apartment building, each office building, has its own heating and hot water equipment.

    In Ukraine, the hot water travels all the way from a central plant, sovok style, through distribution pipes.

    Nevertheless, here is a mayor who literally bought votes from the people to get elected, and I have yet to hear ANY sort of explanation from him as to why the bills have not been paid.

    Instead, he says that he likes ice-cold showers, and the Tymoshenko lives in a $20 million house, which he spies on from his son's house next door.

    I've been reading many of the comments over at Ukrainian Pravda, and there is much dissatisfaction.

    But I am surprised by the relative mildness of the comments, given the situation.

    In other countries, the mayor would be out giving an explanation, and would be doing everything he could to get the water back on.

    No mayor that I know of would be joking about how he likes ice-cold showers - or else the public would give him one very quickly, and probably hold him down in ice cold water to see how long he could hold his breath, if he dared to make that kind of stupid joke.

    At the very least, there would be a lot of pressure on that kind of jokester to resign.

    Also, is it true that Akhmetov and Khmelnytsky own KyivEnerho, or one of the entities involved in this whole mess (again, from one of the comments at Ukrainian Pravda.)

  7. this is a horrible situation. I live here in Kiev with 2 kids and friend. But what bothers me is that most of the residents are simply doing nothing. there's probably a mass sell of water heaters and that's it. Come on people, you've put those guys in office by voting for them! Stand up for your rights. You've paid your bills, don't let them make you pay double for something you've earned: heating and hot water.

  8. Neeka, your comment about how you don't care how Chernovetsky funds the "bomzhatniks" really struck me when I first saw it, but I have left it until now.

    The concept of public trust and public accountability if very important - but it seems to be sorely lacking in Ukraine.

    In part, because the people themselves don't seem to demand accountability from the public servants whom they have hired to carry out functions of government.

    Over on Ukrainian Pravda, I saw a comment: "interesting how the public servants seem to be far wealthier than the people they serve"

    So, I'll put it to you this way, for the sake of discussion:

    Would it make a difference to you, would you care, if the money you and others had paid for your hot water had been taken by Chernovetsky to fund the "bomzhatniks"?

    In other words, Chernovetsky still has not provided ANY explanation of why the city failed to pay its bills with money collected from citizens.

    I am very curious as to your response.

    Instead, in the Pavlov dog reflex of the sovok that he truly is, Chernovetsky starts making accusations about how Tymoshenko wants to be president, along with other buffoonery.

    He's worse than a little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

  9. Elmer, I do not disagree with you in general, but I do not disagree with myself, either.

    I don't think they should shut a homeless shelter just because it is associated with Chernovetsky's name - or that we should've boycotted Paul McCartney's charity concert because it was arranged by Pinchuk, or that we should spit at the new maternity ward for HIV+ women just because Pinchuk's wife and Kilchytska showed up at the opening ceremony and took the credit for everything. They are all doing embarrassingly little, but I do believe that the direction is the right one, and if the rest of them chose to compete in the field of charity, it would eventually change the country for the better.

    I don't understand why you are so upset about the homeless shelter when there are all those corrupt land deals and fancy cars that Chernovetsky is playing with. Is it just for the sake of an argument? But what's the practical use of such an argument?

    Unfortunately, there's very little practical use in public discussions like those taking place at Savik Shuster's show, either. Due to many factors, we've long treated our politics as circus or a game of football. There was hope that after the 2004 Maidan there'd emerge many smaller, local Maidans - but this hasn't happened, partly because the football game between the big guys was just too fierce to pay attention to anything as trivial as education and health care spendings, infrastructure development, etc.

    Small Maidans are emerging, though: those anti-construction rallies in Kyiv are a good example. But it's ironic that someone not living in, say, Poznyaky wouldn't give a shit about a protest taking place there - too far away, irrelevant - but would rather get all frenzied up about this or that Rada election, or the upcoming presidential one - as if Koncha Zaspa is less remote than Poznyaky...

  10. Neeka, the issue is not whether Pinchuk used his own money, even if stolen, to throw a Paul McCartney concert, nor is the issue boycotting an HIV maternity ward if 2 sluts like Pinchuk's wife and Kilchytska show up.

    Nor is it even shutting down the bomzhatki.

    Nor is it that I'm upset about the bomzhakti.

    Nor is it "competing" in charity. In most other countries, EVERYONE participates in charity. You were in the US for a while. You know that not only "oligarchs" donate to the Salvation Army, or to Goodwill, or to the Red Cross, or to other charitable organizations.

    Ordinary people even work on political campaigns, donating time and money, within the law, for local, state, federal and presidential candidates. Obama's average donation was $99 - that's hardly the stuff of "oligarchs." Citizens got involved.

    The issue, pure and simple, is the use of, and accountability for, public funds.

    And the theft of public funds by people in office.

    Stated differently - Chernovetsky has still not explained how the water got cut off.

    And it appears that noone knows how the bomzhatki are funded.

    I'm not sure how this got turned around into a claim that somehow I'm upset about the bomzhakti.

    I'll say it again - the bomazhakti are not the issue.

    The issue is how public money is used, and whether or not any of it is diverted, on someone's whim, or on someone's claim of "charity," or on some other pretext.

    That's important.

    Because it's about honest, open, transparent and accountable government.

    Which people in Ukraine ought to finally learn something about.

    What's the practical use of talking about the diversion of public funds?

    Well, Neeka, one of the first steps towards reform is not only honest people in government, but also an informed populace, an informed electorate.

    To illustrate - I see a HUGE difference between 2004 and 2008, in the forums on Ukrainian Pravda, in the newspapers, in blogs (like yours, even).

    In 2004, Ukrainian Pravda forums were literally BOMBARDED with мля, бля, і порнографія - swear words, and, literally, pornography, as good little sovoks sought to PREVENT ANY DISCUSSION whatsoever of regime change away from Kuchma's anointed successor, Yanukovych.

    In 2004, Yanukovych called the people goats and beasts of burden, and his wife called the Orange-leaning people narcomaniacs.

    Today, the discussion is quite different, and the polls reflect the HUGE distrust of the people towards government - you've seen them.

    As you point out, Ukraine has crawled at a snail's pace, like a baby, when it should have sprung out of Kuchmism in a year, given all the hopes and aspirations of the people, and that there are very many bright people in Ukraine.

    Be that as it may, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing it, talking about it.

    And that leads to DOING something about it.


    And that doesn't mean marching around in protests, waving flags, necessarily. It means organizing effectively, and taking effective action - such as in elections. Or conducting campaigns with receptive legislators and officials.

    The public talk keeps the pressure up.

    And, yes, you are absolutely right, the land deals and fancy cars of Chernovestky are something that needs to be dealt with.

    And it's high time.

  11. Many ordinary people do participate in charity here, Elmer. Even those who, by all standards, could qualify as recipients of some sort of aid themselves. As for the "elite" folks, the percentage seems to be rather low.

    Distrust of the government has always been there - just as the blind faith in it. Always. What's different now is that it is not really clear which politicians to turn to - it is not black and white, has never been, and every single political force has compromised itself in one way or another, and they don't seem too willing to compensate for it. And now a lot more people understand it.

    It is important to talk about all these issues, but there have to be some results. And yet... Few people here expect the folks up above to all of a sudden begin jailing themselves - even though this would be the most logical outcome of many of the current public discussions.

    I don't know how to change this. Something similar to what's going on now in Greece might be an option - God forbid. Otherwise, more funding should go into education, among other things, so that more people began to understand how it's all supposed to work and what their role is supposed to be, and eventually this will lead to a more positive breakthrough, inshaallah.

    Finally, I wouldn't blame many of those who seem apolitical, reluctant to get involved in solving their problems via organized action and appealing to the elected officials - many people are working their asses off to feed their families and that takes up lots of energy, while dealing with our "elite" and the bureaucrats is not just futile in many cases, but can be quite risky as well. It does look like a vicious circle, I know, but I can't blame them too much.

    P.S. Not that I approve of what Chernovetsky calls his own homeless shelter project, but the correct spelling is bomzhatnik/bomzhatniki - not bomazhakti, bomzhakti, or bomzhatki... :)

  12. It seems to me that the way to deal with the "elites" is to vote them out of office.

    Are there no candidates who 1) are not corrupt and 2) are not oligarchs or front-men or shills for oligarchs?

    Another way to put this is - how can anyone stand it when they see that Yanukovych's son is a member of parliament, with no qualifications whatsoever?

    How can anyone stand it when Yushchenko's son gives his girlfriend a $130,00 BMW? And has no visible means of support?

    Except that Yushchenko's son apparently makes income from Orange Revolution paraphernalia.

    I keep running into the same brick wall in Ukraine:

    "no, we can't"

    Instead of "yes, we can"

    It's like Klitschko deciding not to fight a boxing match, because he might get punched, and he might lose.

  13. Why do you keep asking all these questions, Elmer? Come here and see for yourself!

  14. How many times have I heard, over and over, from countless people, the Ukrainian cop-out - "you can't know unless you are here".

    What utter bollix.

    EVERYONE can see it, Neeka. Inside and outside of Ukraine. Including the many people who leave Ukraine, who vote with their feet.

    What are Ukrainians going to tell their children about the current government, and why nothing has changed?

    "well, as a citizen, I really couldn't do anything, because it would be useless to try."

    "well, people from the West shouldn't tell us anything."

    "well, NATO should solve our problems for us."

    "well, the European Union is to blame for our problems, and should have solved our problems for us."

    "well, the West didn't do enough to solve our problems for us."

    It is obvious even to a blind man that there are cockroaches in the Rada.

    I don't know about people in Ukraine, but most people in other countries get rid of cockroaches.

    In Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Germany, people got together and said: "how can we form good government, how can we form a just society?"

    In Ukraine, Tymoshenko said "let us form the best government in the world."

    Does ANYONE in Ukraine think that Ukraine has the best government in the world, that Ukraine has a just society?

    Is ANYONE in Ukraine proud of the little girl who said on the Savik Shuster show that she wants to be a "killer" when she grows up (хочу бути кілером)? And that not one of the kids wanted to be a doctor - they all wanted to be thieves in the parliament?

    According to the lastest polls, the answer is - not only no, but HELL, NO.

    What do we do about it?

    Well, we're too busy for something as important as good government and a just society.

    We need people from foreign countries to come to Ukraine and hand it to us on a silver platter, and to come see for themselves.

    The infamous "Ukrainian third way" - let someone else do it.

  15. Слава Богу, що цей гамнюк Елмер сюди не приїде, Ніка!

  16. А хто би хотів приїхати в таке гімно, слава Богу?

    Я вже там був. І гімнюки що коментують, а не мають хоробрість підписатися, не мають право коментувати.

    Тобі подобається, федь дурний, то що діється в Україні? Що бовдури в Раді далі крадуть? Що Януковича син, паразит малий, захищає "твої" інтереси в раді? Що Пінчук, паршук, віддав $5 міліонів долярів Клинтону?

    То не є життя.

    А ти, федю дурний, тішся далі і бався далі в тому гімні.

    Мабуть десь "колись" щось поліпшиться.

    А тим що живуть в гімні - не смердить. Бо привикли.