Hryhory Omelchenko: Pupil Kuchma gets a D

"An undeclared war is being waged against our people." — Hryhory Omelchenko
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“PATRON,” A.K.A. “DADDY,” A.K.A...

By Hryhory OMELCHENKO, People's Deputy of Ukraine, Candidate of Sciences in Law

I was compelled to write this article by Leonid Kuchma's confession on the “Epicenter” program that he had been “learning” how to be the President of Ukraine these last five years: “I have been a pupil President all this time.  So five years is not my real term...  Don't think that I just came, sat down, and became President...  By all accounts, I perhaps feel myself President only now.”


In the five years of Mr. Kuchma's studies, his on the job training in leading our state, foreign debt has risen over three times, exceeding $12 billion, which is a danger to national security.  At the same time, Ukraine has run up UAH 10 billion in arrears on wages, salaries, pensions, stipends, and other social payments.

The population of Ukraine has dropped during this period by almost 2.5 million (over 600,000 in the past six months), and over 80% of it is living below the poverty line (which, according to international legal norms, could be considered genocide).  Real unemployment has reached 25% of the able-bodied population.  About 17% of Ukraine's active population is involved in various sectors of the shadow economy.  A third of citizens wants to emigrate abroad because of socioeconomic hardship.  More that 60% of students also see their future in foreign emigration.  This situation, according to experts, has brought Ukraine to the brink of a national humanitarian disaster.  In fact, an undeclared war is being waged against our people.  And all the media Kuchma controls urge voting for him only because our sons are not fighting in hot spots.

As for all those officials, who were abusing their authority, embezzling state property, hiding millions-worth of hard-currency funds abroad, and breaking the behavioral ethics of a civil servant and the laws of Ukraine, Mr. Kuchma not only did not sit them in the corner but appointed them to high posts, decorated with presidential medals, and conferred various titles on them.

For example, knowing from the end of 1994 about the unlawful financial and commercial activities of Pavlo Lazarenko (I had personally reported to Mr. Kuchma on this more than once, and later the prosecutors of Ukraine and Switzerland qualified those activities as criminal), President Kuchma appointed Mr. Lazarenko head of the Dnipropetrovsk oblast state administration, then First Deputy Prime Minister, and finally Prime Minister of Ukraine, awarding him the Order of Yaroslav the Wise, one of the President's highest decorations, “for outstanding merits before the Ukrainian state in the field of state building and for his great personal contribution to the socioeconomic and cultural development of Dnipropetrovsk oblast.”


Ukrainian President Kuchma appointed as his aide Oleksandr Volkov, previously convicted for a premeditated violent crime.  I stress that Mr. Kuchma knew about Mr. Volkov's illegal financial operations abroad and tens of millions of US dollars tucked away in hard currency accounts (Belgian judicial agencies accuse him of money laundering) from June 1997, when Anatoly Yermak and I sent a respective cheat sheet in the form of a parliamentary query to poor student Leonid Kuchma.  The pupil was so at sea that in April 1998 he decorated Mr. Volkov with a presidential award, the Order of Merit, “for his major personal contribution to the promotion of entrepreneurship and the formation of a market infrastructure in Ukraine,” and in September 1998 he appointed Volkov his advisor and deputy chairman of the Domestic Policy Coordination Council headed by the presidential schoolboy himself.

After Lazarenko, Kuchma appointed as Premier another “schoolmate” from Dnipropetrovsk, Valery Pustovoitenko.

The media reported that the Pustovoitenko government has spent from the state budget UAH 10 million on presidential Mercedes automobiles and UAH 283 million on airplanes and helicopters.  $28 million was coughed up to renovate some of Mr. Kuchma's country “houses,” in particular, villa no. 28; UAH 7 million was spent on Villa No. 28, and UAH 10 million on villa no. 29.  The reclamation of riverside land near one of the first pupil's dachas cost the taxpayers UAH 9 million.  The improvement of the presidential family's well-being culminated in the construction and decoration of Mr. Kuchma's wonderful apartment at 10 Desiatynna Street, in Kyiv, which claimed UAH 100 million (Holos Ukrayiny-Tyzhden, March 1998).

The interest Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko and his son have showed in oil, as well as Pavlo Lazarenko's gaseous affairs, was taken up not by the school newspaper but the media, including outlets abroad.  But Mr. Kuchma confessed, “I don't read newspapers at night.”

President Kuchma reacted to our parliamentary demands to dismiss Mr. Pustovoitenko from his post as usual: he awarded him the Order of Yaroslav the Wise “for outstanding personal contribution to the building of Ukrainian statehood.”

Mr. Pustovoitenko in turn assured Mr. Kuchma, “We will not give up power” and “will pursue the policy required by the International Monetary Fund.”


Mr. Kuchma's five-year presidential courses in subjects such as Mafia and Corruption Control, Social Security of Ukrainian citizens, Economic and Administrative Reforms, Paying Domestic and Foreign Debts, Domestic and Foreign Policy, Military Affairs (training as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces), Personnel Policy, Freedom of Speech, Safeguarding the Constitutional Rights and Freedoms of Citizens, as well as other core subjects, has earned him more than one D.  Of special significance is Mr. Kuchma's success in the field of Freedom of Speech.  Here our D student got an international grade, as “enemy of the press,” placing sixth among the top ten heads of state making outstanding progress in muzzling the free press.  But he did earn an A+ in one subject: Home Economics: Providing for Oneself, One's Family, and Close Friends.  It is perhaps for this reason that Mr. Kuchma said frankly, “I thrive on power” (Silski visti, September 9, 1999).

However, D student Kuchma is not interested in how much his remedial course in Presidential Skills will cost the Ukrainian people.

There is one joke.

Mr. Kuchma is meeting his electorate and telling them how well people now live after the five years of his presidency.

“Don't you fear God?” one of the electors was intrepid enough to say “People haven't been paid wages and pensions for three years, prices are skyrocketing, there's poverty all over.”

“You're hard to please,” Mr. Kuchma raged.  “In Africa, for instance, people die of hunger like flies, eat each other by the thousands, and they don't complain.”

“That must be,” the voter replied, “because in Africa a chief like you ruled the state ten years, not five.”

According to international expert assessments, Ukraine has become one of the most corrupt countries of the world, with its national wealth having been misappropriated and looted by a small coterie of corrupt officials close to the President.  For example, an analytical report drawn up at the Davos economic forum stresses that Ukraine is among the world's leading countries in terms of political corruption, bribery, and tax evasion.

Take just one example.  The parliamentary investigative commission has found out that in the spring of 1993, with the participation and assistance of then Premier Kuchma, Cabinet Minister Lobov, People's Deputy Zviahylsky, and other officials, DM 12 million was stolen from the State Currency Reserve and transferred to the foreign hard-currency accounts of certain Ukrainian officials and their children.  Three persons who knew about this scheme were killed.


In the fifth year of Mr. Kuchma's studies as the guarantor of the Constitution as well as of human and civil rights, his entourage also made him a patron, who placed under his patronage everything possible in Ukraine except the interests of his own people.  Within the Dnipropetrovsk family, Mr. Kuchma is honorably referred to as daddy.  In Mafia language patron and daddy are synonyms for the leader of a criminal gang (see O. Khomenko, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Synonyms: The Language of Mafiosi. Kyiv, pp. 138, 144).  The presidential pupil has apparently not read the dictionaries that interpret these words.  In Mafia jargon, however, patron can also mean a bottle of vodka, but patronage is the way a patron exercises his godfatherly protection.  This is what not doing one's homework, including presidential, and ignorance of the fairy tale about the king's new clothes, can lead to.

Let us recall that Mr. Kuchma began to gain the experience of running the state back in the primary school of his term as prime minister.  Even then he penned gems that are still being felt by the millions of defrauded citizens.  For example, on March 17, 1993, Mr. Kuchma signed a decree having the force of a law On Trust Companies, which resulted in robbing over 4 million Ukrainian citizens, mostly pensioners, veterans of war and labor, the disabled, Chornobyl clean-up participants, homeless army officers, and other socially disadvantaged citizens, of over UAH 250 million, or $33 million.

The Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, whom Mr. Kuchma recommended as CIS Executive Secretary (and whom Russian prosecutors accuse of money laundering, and whose hard currency accounts amounting to tens of millions of dollars have been impounded by Swiss judicial authorities), teaches us, “... so that the Ukrainian people become aware that Kuchma is God's gift and accept this decision of God” (Stolichnye novosti, April 6-13, 1999). However, Mr. Berezovsky failed to specify which god he and D student Ukrainian President worship, and when Mr. Kuchma will at last outgrow his schoolboy uniform.  We know what a person can think if he has books in his backpack.

I believe the Ukrainian people will become aware on October 31 which God (or devil) begot Mr. Kuchma and will decide for themselves about him: they will expel this obtuse pupil President from school once and for all and maybe even send him for reeducation to a reform school and elect a true people's President of Ukraine, for the whole class is never forced to repeat a course if there was but one underachiever, albeit a patron.

P. S. The plenary meeting of the Ukrainian Officers League (presided over by Vice-Admiral Borys Kozhyn), and the Antimafia organization and parliamentary association (headed by Hryhory Omelchenko and Anatoly Yermak) have called the people to vote for Yevhen Marchuk in the presidential elections on October 31.

40 October 26 1999 «The Day»
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