When the USA helped Ukraine with Western Values

Jan 10th, 2014 | By | Category: Civic Actions, Civic Campaigns, Civil Society, Countries, Economics, Health Care, Human Rights, Issues, News, Torture and Ill-Treatment, Ukraine, USA

In the wake of the economic crisis of 2008, the future of capitalism has been the focus of considerable interest, with talk of aligning purpose with  profit. The New Bottom Line is how I described it.

At Sumy State University we’d delivered two papers on the economic crisis and had also been collaborating with physicists at Kharkiv National University on a proposal for science education.

Our primary focus, however, as a social business were Ukraine;s  institutionalised children..

In his ‘Death Camps, For Children‘ article Terry Hallman said:

“Excuses won’t work, particularly in light of a handful of oligarchs in Ukraine having been allowed to loot Ukraine’s economy for tens of billions of dollars. I point specifically to Akhmetov, Pinchuk, Poroshenko, and Kuchma, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list. These people can single-handedly finance 100% of all that will ever be needed to save Ukraine’s orphans. None of them evidently bother to think past their bank accounts, and seem to have at least tacit blessings at this point from the new regime to keep their loot while no one wants to consider Ukraine’s death camps, and the widespread poverty that produced them..”
Thanks to Bloomberg who recently published an article about helping Ukraine stand up for Western values, I’ve just joined up a few dots:

“Election spending in Ukraine is opaque, but both Akhmetov and Firtash are widely thought to have sponsored Yanukovych’s campaigns. Even as they have supported an increasingly authoritarian Yanukovych at home, however, Akhmetov and Firtash have invested heavily in building their reputations in the West.

Akhmetov’s System Capital Management JSC is a partner of the Swiss-based World Economic Forum. It has used the services of, or attracted financing from, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, the U.K.’s Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International AG. Firtash has made generous donations to the University of Cambridge. This year he started financing the Days of Ukraine festival in the U.K., held at prestigious sites in London, such as the Saatchi Gallery.

The two men have also hired prominent Western consulting companies, including McKinsey & Co. Inc., to develop an economic plan for Ukraine, while bolstering Yanukovych, who is the biggest obstacle to any reasonable economic policy.”

In June 2007, our proposal for microeconomic development and social enterprise had been in government channels for the past few months. We’d always been aware of the risk that it might be misused and it gave us some concern to read that Akhmetov was hiring Western specialists to prepare a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine’s future development. We determined that radical transparency was our only defence from hijack. Terry Hallman wrote in his notes:

“The blueprint underwent a series of six translations into Ukrainian, first to translate concepts, then to refine the language to acceptable academic standards.  University professors and certified translators disagreed with some language of any given translation, thus the refinement process.  After six translations and seeming endless discussion over a three month period, the final paper was delivered to Kharkiv National University on February 20, 2007, for immediate release to government officials as they saw fit.  Two weeks later, Kyiv announced agreement on the central point and metric of the paper: modern rehabilitation treatment facilities for Ukraine’s most vulnerable people.  Those were, and are, children diagnosed as psychoneurologically disabled and hidden away in isolated, remote rural locations to live or die.  Death was common and an accepted norm due to neglect arising from almost incomprehensible medical ignorance, corruption and misappropriation of millions of dollars in funding channels that were supposed to assist the children, and entrenched protection of that money stream for benefit of what some judges characterized to me as Ukrainian mafia.  The point was not the welfare of the kids as much as siphoning off millions of dollars budgeted to protect and assist them.  

Opening up the reality of that situation resulted in threats against me and anyone else interfering with that system.  I came under direct assault by tax police, government’s primary enforcement arm if anyone steps out of line.  This is not a research activity where many, if any, other people dared to participate.  UNICEF was willfully blind to the matter because it was just too dangerous to bother to intercede  Powerful interests remained entrenched with enforcers to make it dangerous.  Jurists were correct, in my view.  It was more a mafia operation than anything else, aimed at misappropriation and laundering of large money.  That was perfectly congruent with how Ukraine operated before the revolution.  USAID wanted nothing to do with it, nor would they fund any organizations or activists who might try.  Some things could be done and some things could not be done.  Helping these children was something that could not be done.  So, I exposed it and made it the central focus and metric of Ukraine’s microeconomic development blueprint.  In that context, it was far more difficult to ignore, dismiss, or argue about.  For about six months, I really did not expect to survive.  Nevertheless, Ukraine’s government finally conceded the point and announced the opening of more than four hundred new treatment centers for children who were theretofore invisible under tight and deadly enforcement.

As the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan came around in June 2007, noise was emerging within Ukraine of a certain political boss preparing a Marshall Plan for Ukraine.  This person was a reputed mob boss — exactly the sort of entity that the original Marshall Plan meant to oppose.  It seemed most likely that whatever he came up with would be self-serving, hijacking the label ‘Marshall Plan’ and turning the whole notion on its head.  I reviewed the original Marshall Plan and realized that what I had written was, in fact, the definition and spirit of the original Marshall Plan.  Thus, in June 2007, I appended the original title with “A Marshall Plan for Ukraine.”  After some discussion among trusted colleagues over timing, I published an abbreviated version of the paper in two parts in August 2007 in the ‘analytics’ section of the Ukrainian news journal for-ua.com.”

In September Ukraine’s PM Yulia Tymoshenko had seen the other plan online, noting:

Not so a long ago Rinat Akhmetov threatened to hire the clever American experts and write for Ukraine the plan of development on the nearest 20-30 years in a prospect, Yulia Tymoshenko press service reported.

According to plan (read by myself in the internet), it must have been, at least, “Marshall plan for Ukraine”. However nobody knows either Marshalls are finished there, behind the ocean or something worse has happened. But as a result instead of Marshall plan we received the “proFFesor’s plan” as usual.

I analyze stage-by-stage implementation of “Marshall plan” from Akhmetov and become convinced that it was written, probably, by domestic specialists (“marshalls” or generals from SCM-group), because it will never occur to any average manafort to put a first issue of such plan a task to “steal “Dniproenergo” at a state”.

(N.B. ‘proFFesor’  is her tag for Yanukovitch)

Today, academics outside Ukraine are calling on their goverment to support a ‘Marshall Plan’.

Responding ‘From the American people’ it was USAID who told us  that there was no budget for ‘handicapped and retarted chidren’ 

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