From Consortium News
Ukraine's anti-Russian President Petro Poroshenko speaking to the Atlantic Council in 2014.
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If Ukraine becomes a flashpoint for World War III with Russia, the American people might rue the day that their government pressed for the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine's allegedly corrupt (though elected) president in favor of a coup regime led by Ukrainian lawmakers who now report amassing, on average, more than $1 million each, much of it as cash.
The New York Times, which served as virtually a press agent for the coup in February 2014, took note of this apparent corruption among the U.S.-favored post-coup officials, albeit deep inside a story that itself was deep inside the newspaper (page A8). The lead angle was a bemused observation that Ukraine's officialdom lacked faith in the country's own banks (thus explaining why so much cash).
Yet, Ukraine is a country beset by widespread poverty, made worse by the post-coup neoliberal "reforms" slashing pensions, making old people work longer and reducing heating subsidies for common citizens. The average Ukrainian salary is only $214 a month.
So, an inquiring mind might wonder how -- in the face of all that hardship -- the post-coup officials did so well for themselves, but Times' correspondent Andrew E. Kramer treads lightly on the possibility that these officials were at least as corrupt, if not more so, than the elected government that the U.S. helped overthrow. Elected President Viktor Yanukovych had been excoriated for a lavish lifestyle because he had a sauna in his residence.
Kramer's article on Wednesday tried to explain the bundles of cash as a sign that "many of the lawmakers and officials responsible for inspiring public trust in Ukraine's economic and banking institutions have little faith that their own wealth would be safe in the country's banks, according to recently mandated financial disclosures. ...
"Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, for example, declared over one million dollars in savings in cash -- $870,000 and 460,000 euros -- apparently shunning Ukraine's ever-wobbly banking system. The top official in charge of the country's banks, Valeriya Gontareva, who is responsible for stabilizing the national currency, the hryvnia, maintains most of her money in American dollars -- $1.8 million.
"A tally of the declarations filed by most of Parliament's 450 members compiled by one analyst, Andriy Gerus, found that the lawmakers collectively held $482 million in 'monetary assets,' of which $36 million was kept as cold, hard cash. ...
"Some politicians seem to have approached the declaration as a sort of amnesty, revealing everything they have earned from decades of crooked dealings, in an effort to come clean. " One minister reported a wine collection with bottles worth thousands of dollars each. Another official declared ownership of a church. Yet another claimed a ticket to outer space with Virgin Galactic. ...
"Another theory making the rounds in Kiev -- where people generally acknowledge the inventive, venal genius of their politicians -- suggests that the public servants are padding their declarations," so they can hide future bribes within their reported cash holdings and thus offer plausible excuses for luxury cars and expensive jewelry.
Accessing More Money
Ironically, passage of the law requiring the disclosures of what appears to be widespread corruption among Kiev's officials unlocked millions of euros in new aid money from the European Union that then flowed to the same apparently corrupt officials.
However, because the Ukraine "regime change" in 2014 was partly orchestrated by U.S. and E.U. officials around the propaganda theme that elected President Yanukovych was corrupt -- he had that sauna, after all -- the continued corruption in the post-coup regime has been a rarely acknowledged, inconvenient truth. Indeed, some business people operating in Ukraine have complained that the corruption has grown worse since Yanukovych was overthrown.
Yet, only occasionally has that reality been allowed to peek through in the mainstream U.S. media, which prefers to deny that any "coup" occurred, to blame Russia for all of Ukraine's problems, and to praise the post-coup "reforms" which targeted pensions, heating subsidies and other social programs for average citizens.
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