Yes, Wonderland UA. Sounds enchanting, doesn’t it?
For many years individuals traveled to Ukraine as a form of extreme tourism, and some still travel to Ukraine for sex tourism. Why do you think the girls from FEMEN have their knickers in a knot? Even the folks in Lviv have been spending a lot of money on how to entice young men with their sexually implicit public relations videos for 2012.
Yes, ultra-soft porn sells, but it does little for the image of a nation. Meanwhile there are elements of the Diaspora that also have their shorts knotted; in that Yevhenia Carr, the daughter of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko hasn't been able to learn Ukrainian. There is good reason for both these groups to be a little pissed, but may I put to my fellow members of the Ukrainian Diaspora the following question:”How many members of Ukraine's current government which the Diaspora continues to deal with in an as-if-everything-is-ok kind of mode actually speak Ukrainian or even respect the language?”
Besides the Rule of Law being a problem in Ukraine and which is trampled on a daily basis, there are a few things that caught me by surprise recently. Just when you think you have it all figured out Ukraine throws another surprise your way.
The first surprise is a revelation for football fans planning to travel to Ukraine by car for the Euro-2012 Football Championships. To my brethren in the Diaspora, you are also in for a surprise, which you should be just as angry about as Mrs. Carr's inability to learn Ukrainian.
In tourism, for the last couple of hundred years, there have been four “S's” that have played a role, and we cannot deny these. They are Sun, Sand, Ski and Sex! But these are only elements which are employed to sell a destination.
In 2012 the key drawing card to Ukraine will be the European Football Championships, if anyone can fit in one of the first three “S's” into their itinerary then more power to them. Respect Ukrainian women like you would your own, or don't bother visiting Ukraine. As the women from FEMEN say, “Ukraine is not a brothel!”
So you are coming to Ukraine for Euro-2012 by car? Do you know where you are going to park that car of yours? Recently, I saw a report on the TV show, Znak Oklyku (Exclamation Mark), how individual companies have taken over the available parking spots available by simply putting up official looking signs that state those only cars of “such-and-such a business can park here”. Under the Highway Code of Ukraine none of these signs are recognized. Along with these signs come burly security guards with about as much couth as a brick wall to enforce their own rules of the concrete jungles of Ukraine.
Parking in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital and in Lviv is nuts, just ask anyone with a car. When Michel Platini was in Ukraine last week what did he see? He saw a Potemkin village. He saw squat about the realities of current Ukraine and how prepared it is for the Euro-2012 Ukraine. Ukrainians, particularly officials, are very good at presenting the false-reality of their nation.
So, maybe anyone who plans to travel by car to Ukraine for the Euro-2012 should start preparations by doing the following. Make sure that you prepare yourself a sign that reads: “For the automobiles of Football Fans of Euro-2012.” You may also want hire some burly types to enforce your parking space. There is clearly no guarantee that there will be any type of parking for fans who decide to make their way into Ukraine under their own means of transportation.
Now regarding the issue of language, here is some news that really floored me. In trying to improve Ukraine's image and the image of the Kyiv National Linguistic University, the university has set up a new Supervisory Board. Well, that is great until you hear about the clowns who were appointed to it.
First on the list is Yuriy Ivanyushenko who according to media reports is also known as Yura “Yenakievskiy,” an allegedly criminal authority who also happens to be a member of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada.
Then there is Tariel Vasadze, chairman and primary shareholder in the UkrAvto Group, Ukraine's largest car importer, and former member of BYuT who voted for the new Tax Code earlier this year and was expelled from the party and now sits with the Party of Regions.
The third should be a big hit amongst those who recognize the atrocities committed by Stalin. She is none other than Kateryna Samolyuk one of Ukraine's top commies who in 2010 stated that statues of Stalin should be placed in all regional centers of Western Ukraine to remind them who saved them and the rest of Europe from the Fascist-Germans.
The fourth member is none other than Ukraine's Minister of the Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Boyko, another Party of Regions member who is alleged to have been involved in a scheme to bilk $150 million out of the state’s coffers in the purchase of an offshore oil platform.
Heading the Board is Valentyn Zaychuk, a bureaucrat within the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, who at least at one time was tied to something positively Ukrainian as a teacher of the Ukrainian language and literature.
What this Supervisory Board has planned to do to improve the University's image and that of Ukraine's image abroad is anyone's best guess. Though I have serious doubts as to what the true intention of the creation of such a board is, and filling with such characters of such moral fiber. Only time will tell.
In short, Ukraine is a wonderland and it ceases to amaze me in the things that happen there. The levels of corruption, influence peddling, arbitrary decisions by different people who are in positions of power, and the simple grab for more and more by a select few. Have any of these individuals who have pillaged the country of its wealth ever looked around to see how their neighbor is doing?
Clearly not! Such behavior is in fact very non-Ukrainian, for those who have some moral fiber.
Vasyl Pawlowsky Independent Consultant
The commentary of this was first published on the Ukraine Business Online site.