Friday, June 30, 2006

Italy 3, Ukraine 0: Italy Scores Early And Often To Win

HAMBURG, Germany -- Francesco Totti showed he is close to his sublime best. Luca Toni finally scored a World Cup goal and then quickly added a second. Marcello Lippi got to empty his bench.

Fans celebrate Italy's win over Ukraine in their quarter final World Cup 2006 soccer match in downtown Rome, June 30, 2006.

Everything went well for Italy as it cantered to a 3-0 victory over Ukraine in the cool of Friday night. It will face Germany in the last four, after the host ran for 120 hard minutes in the afternoon heat of Berlin before beating Argentina in a shootout.

Italy took an early lead when Gianluca Zambrotta scored in the sixth minute.

In the past, Italian teams have made trouble for themselves by obsessively defending one-goal leads.

On Friday, the Italians, true to their traditions, relaxed after the goal. Yet when Ukraine began to threaten in the second half, the Italians responded in ruthless style, finishing off their foes with the two goals by Toni.

Italy, depleted by injury and suspensions, made three changes for the game.

With Alessandro Nesta hurt and his replacement, Marco Materazzi, suspended after a red card in the last game, against Australia, Andrea Barzagli, who had played only one minute in the tournament, started at center back.

Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Del Piero, who had started against Australia, made way for Totti and Mauro Camoranesi. Totti, who is coming back after breaking an ankle, had finished the previous game in every sense, smashing the winning penalty into Australia's net with the last kick of regulation time.

Daniele De Rossi was also absent, serving the third game of a four-match suspension for his red card against the United States.

Italian preparations for the match took place under the cloud of investigations into match-fixing in Italy, which could relegate the clubs of half of Coach Lippi's squad.

Also, Gianluca Pessotto, a former Italy international recently appointed an official at one of those clubs, Juventus, was in intensive care after an apparent suicide attempt.

Lippi did not take well to the suggestion at a press conference before the game that facing Australia, then Ukraine represented good fortune.

"I'd like to say something about all this talk that we have been lucky," he said. "We had Francesco Totti ruled out for three months with injury. On top of that, we have to deal with the unprecedented mess happening in Italy.

"Yeah, you can say I have been really lucky."

Yet it quickly became clear that fortune had handed Italy an ideal opponent. After four minutes, Camoranesi ran unopposed through the heart of the Ukrainian midfield before shooting, wide, from the edge of penalty area.

Two minutes later, Totti made his first telling contribution. He dropped back to collect a pass from Zambrotta, dragging defenders with him. Totti's little back heel popped the ball into Zambrotta's path. He surged into the void in front of the Ukrainian penalty area.

From 20 meters, or about 65 feet, he hit a ferocious low drive. Oleksandr Shovkovskyi, the Ukrainian goalkeeper, reached the ball but could only deflect it into the corner of his goal.

Ukraine reached this stage on penalties after playing 120 minutes of scoreless soccer against Switzerland.

Afterward, Oleg Blokhin, the Ukraine coach, made it clear that he had been aiming for penalties again.

"Had we drawn 0-0, the Italians would have been under more pressure," he said.

Instead he was quickly forced to turn to Plan B.

After Vyacheslav Sviderskyi, a defender, received a yellow card in the 16th minute, Blokhin quickly yanked him off.

"I knew if I did not act we would have 10 men on the field," Blokhin said.

But he replaced the defender with an attacker, Andriy Vorobey.

Despite the tactical shift. Italy was in control for the rest of the half. It restricted Ukraine to long shots while occasionally summoning the energy to sashay stylishly forward.

The Ukrainians started the second half with more menace. The danger repeatedly came from high balls across the goal.

Andriy Gusin, unguarded just past the far post, met a cross with a downward header. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy's goalkeeper, sprawled to save. The ball and the goalie's head banged into the post almost simultaneously.

After 58 minutes, Buffon parried a powerful close range shot by Oleg Gusev. The ball rebounded to Maksym Kalinichenko 5 meters out. His shot was blocked on the line by Zambrotta.

"Those were two amazing saves on the part of Buffon," Lippi said.

Italy quickly responded to the mounting threat. Within a minute of Zambrotta's block, it had doubled its margin for error. After a free kick near the corner flag, Totti curled a ball into the goal mouth.

The Ukrainians, bent on attack, were caught shorthanded. Fabio Cannavaro, unmarked 5 meters out, missed the ball with his head. Toni, swooping between confused defenders 3 meters out, did not.

Two minutes later, another high ball caused Italy's defense problems, but again it escaped punishment as Gusin's header hit the crossbar.

Toni, who had waited 296 minutes for his first goal of the World Cup, needed to wait only 10 minutes for his second. Zambrotta wriggled past two defenders and curled the ball past Shovkovskyi. Again Toni, suddenly looking like a true goal predator, was 3 meters from an undefended net. This time he scored with his foot.

"The fact that Toni scored two goals was very important," Lippi said. "We were just waiting for that to happen. I said that to him this morning - you are going to score, maybe twice. That makes it easier."

The lead also allowed Lippi to pay attention to other egos in his squad. He brought on Massimo Oddo with 23 minutes to play. That means every Italian outfielder player has now appeared at this World Cup.

Lippi said that pleased him but that there were two goalkeepers who had not appeared and he hoped they would not.

Lippi called the victory "incredible." His opposite number also seemed satisfied with the result.

"I am not disappointed. I am totally satisfied," Blokhin said. "We have gone where no Ukrainian team has gone before. I must say the Italian team was a different class. We have different goals."

Lippi fended off questions about the semifinal with Germany in Dortmund on Tuesday.

"Let's enjoy this victory, work hard for three or four days, then we can think about the lineup that will play Germany."

Blokhin does not have to worry about the rest of this World Cup. He said he might not even watch the remaining games.

"I dreamed of my family last night," he said. "Maybe I'm tired and ready to go home."

Source: International Herald Tribune

Ukraine Team To Get A Little Help From Top Fan

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's football team will get a little help from its top fan during their World Cup quarter-final against Italy, with President Viktor Yushchenko due to attend the historic match.

Ukraine's football team will get a little help from its top fan during their World...

"Today the president is heading to Germany for a few hours in a blitz visit," said Yushchenko's spokeswoman, Iryna Gerashchenko Friday.

Ukraine's squad had appealed this week for the nation's fan-in-chief to attend the match in Hamburg, saying his presence would provide players with "inspiration and will boost the belief in our strength."

"We're certain that your visit will also help to advance our bid with Poland to host the finals of (UEFA) Euro 2012," said a letter to Yushchenko signed by team captain Andriy Shevchenko, head coach Oleg Blokhin and the head of Ukraine's football federation Grygoriy Surkis.

The Ukrainian president has closely followed the team's progress, calling Surkis on the day of each match and congratulating the team on its wins against Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Switzerland.

The support "without a doubt helps and inspires the players," the team's letter said.

Ukraine is making its first appearance at the World Cup since gaining independence and its spot at the quarter-finals is the best result of any ex-Soviet republic since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a regular attendee at Germany's matches. Prince Felipe of Spain was at the Spain-France match earlier this week and Britain's Prince William was at the England-Paraguay match earlier in the Cup.

Source: AFP

Kiev Coalition Endangered By Blockade

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's largest opposition party strengthened its blockade of parliament Thursday, putting a planned vote on returning Yulia Tymoshenko to the prime minister's job under threat.

Opposition deputies from Regions Party stand near the speaker rostrum with the slogan 'We will defend Ukraine's laws and constitution' after they prevented parliament from voting to confirm Yulia Tymoshenko as Prime Minister in Kiev

Dozens of lawmakers from the pro-Russian Party of the Regions took over the speaker's seat and the seats meant for government members in a bid to prevent the parliamentary session from convening for a second day.

The session, scheduled to start at 10 a.m., did not open.

The blockade comes as Ukraine's new governing coalition -- formed last week by the three parties that led the 2004 Orange Revolution -- planned to call a vote on naming Tymoshenko to the premier's post. They also wanted to vote on giving President Viktor Yushchenko's ally, Petro Poroshenko, the speaker's job.

"Believe me, as a person who took part in a lot of blocking, they cannot sit there forever," Poroshenko said, referring to the times when the coalition members -- then in opposition to former President Leonid Kuchma -- used blockades of parliament as a way to register their displeasure.

Mykola Katerynchuk, from the president's Our Ukraine party, said the party was prepared to wait. Under Ukraine's constitution, lawmakers have four weeks to get the Cabinet in place. On Thursday, lawmakers milled around the session hall and parliament's corridors, waiting to see what would happen.

The Party of the Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych -- Yushchenko's 2004 election rival -- won the most votes in the March parliamentary election but was shut out of power after failing to persuade any party to unite with it.

The party said Thursday that it objected to the coalition's proposal to combine the votes for the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker into a single ballot, in violation of parliamentary rules. If the votes are held separately, there is a good chance that Poroshenko -- whose big-business background has made him a controversial figure -- would not get enough support to be named parliamentary speaker, which could destroy the coalition agreement.

The Socialists, a member of the coalition, on Thursday asked the president's party to replace Poroshenko with a more palatable candidate. "We must observe the president's slogan to divide business and power," said Socialist Party member Valentyna Semenyuk.

The speaker's vote is typically conducted in secret, which could allow many lawmakers -- even coalition members -- to vote against Poroshenko.

The Party of the Regions is also demanding that it be given chairmanships of key parliamentary committees and more influence in Ukraine's eastern and southern regions, where it dominates.

Yaroslav Sukhiy, a Party of the Regions lawmaker, noted that when his party was in government, the opposition was given the chairmanship of 14 of parliament's 24 committees. The coalition insists it has not made a firm proposal yet, but is considering giving the Party of the Regions only deputy chairmanships.

Ukraine's political life has been paralyzed since the March election ended without a decisive victory, throwing the country into difficult coalition talks. Those talks ended only last week after the estranged Orange Revolution parties agreed to try again to work together.

Last September, Yushchenko sacked Tymoshenko and accepted Poroshenko's resignation as security chief after the two turned on each other with accusations of corruption and incompetence.

Source: AP

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shevchenko Set For Ukraine's Biggest Game

HAMBURG, Germany -- Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko knows he and his team are preparing for the biggest match in their fledgling nation's history when they take on Italy in the World Cup quarter-finals, tonight.

Shevchenko celebrates victory in second round.

The 29-year-old striker, who left AC Milan last month for Chelsea in a £31million deal, will have extra responsibilities again in Hamburg on Friday thanks to the injury which has ruled Andriy Voronin out of the rest of the tournament.

Shevchenko is nonetheless looking forward to a match against a team which will contain many of his former Milan team-mates.

"The Italy team is full of talent, and some of them are my former comrades," said the 2004 European footballer of the year.

"I spent seven marvellous years in Italy and I owe the country a lot - but now we are playing against them in what is the most important fixture in the history of Ukraine."

Shevchenko is happy for Ukraine to wear the mantle of underdogs in their first World Cup since breaking from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukraine and Portugal are the only two teams of the eight quarter-finalists never to have won a World Cup.

"Italy must be favourites," said Shevchenko.

"But what we have to do is stick together as a team and as a unit and play with all our hearts to compensate for our weaknesses."

The loss of Voronin is a big blow for Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin, another former European footballer of the year who won the prize in 1975 during the Soviet era.

However, the veteran coach has better news in defence where he will be able to welcome back suspended pair Andriy Rusol and Vyacheslav Sviderskyi and the injured Vladimir Yezerskyi for a match which will earn the victors a semi-final against Germany or Argentina.

Source: PA Sport

Ukrainian Opposition Blocks Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine's opposition party prevented members of a newly formed ruling coalition from taking their seats in parliament Thursday, stopping a vote on returning ousted Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to her former job.

Viktor Yanukovych (C) said his party is prepared to block parliament for another 30 days

The country's pro-Western, reformist parties agreed June 21 to form a coalition government that would return Tymoshenko to the post and reunite the three parties that led the 2004 Orange Revolution. The deal shut out lawmakers from the pro-Russian Party of Regions, which got the most votes in March parliamentary elections.

Ukraine's political life has been paralyzed since the election ended without a decisive victory, throwing this country into coalition talks. Those talks ended only last week after the estranged Orange Revolution parties agreed to try again to work together.

For a second day, Party of Regions lawmakers took over the speaker's seat and seats meant for government members to prevent coalition lawmakers from convening and voting on Tymoshenko and Petro Petroshenko for speaker.

President Viktor Yushchenko later urged political parties to "urgently" sit down for negotiations and he criticized lawmakers, saying they were "forgetting about 48 million people."

"There is a good opportunity now to understand that democracy is advantageous for all — for those who won and those who lost," he said. "But democracy can function only when there exists a respect for the law and rules."

In September, Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko and accepted Poroshenko's resignation as security chief after the two turned on each other with accusations of corruption and incompetence.

The Regions group pledged to keep parliament shut down indefinitely to push demands it get chairmanships of key committees. The coalition is considering giving the Party of Regions mostly deputy chairmanships.

The Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych — Yushchenko's 2004 election rival — said it objects to the coalition's proposal to combine the votes for the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker into a single ballot.

"We will block parliament till the Orange (parties) agree to live and work according to laws and the constitution of the state," Yanukovych said.

Source: AP

Ukraine Parliament To Choose PM

KIEV, Ukraine -- Members of parliament in Ukraine are due to vote to elect the country's new prime minister on Thursday.

Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko will be nominated for the position as her political bloc won the most seats out of the ruling coalition.

The governing coalition is made up of the pro-Western parties that supported the mass protests of the so-called Orange revolution.

But the appointment could be delayed because of a protest by the opposition.


More than three months after the parliamentary election, MPs will vote on the nomination of Ms Tymoshenko, which should be a formality as she is the choice of the governing coalition.

The process is due to take place in parliament, but since Tuesday the building has been blocked.

Inside the chamber, MPs belonging to the pro-Russian opposition party are staging a sit-in to prevent parliament from working.

They say that the ruling coalition is not acting in a constitutional manner and that the opposition has not been given any of the influential committee posts.

The opposition says its MPs will blockade parliament 24 hours a day for the next four weeks in an attempt to force a new election to be called.

Analysts believe this action is being taken to weaken the position of the Orange coalition, which took months to create.

This is not the first time that Ukraine's parliament has faced a blockade.

When it happened in the past, MPs held their session in another building in the capital.

It is thought that this option is being considered.

Source: BBC News

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We Must Show Heart - Shevchenko

COLOGNE, Germany -- Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko says his side must show great spirit if they are to have a chance of beating Italy in Friday's World Cup quarter-final.

Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko

"The Italy squad is packed with talented players," said Shevchenko.

"Italy are favourites but the important thing for us is to play with enough heart to make up for any technical shortcomings we may have.

"We must recover our strength after our exertions against Switzerland and go on to the pitch as a solid unit."

The Chelsea striker said reaching the last eight - courtesy of a penalty shoot-out victory over Switzerland - was a great achievement.

And it was something few expected after their heavy loss in the opening game of the group stages.

"After our 4-0 defeat against Spain, a lot of people wrote us off," he added.

"Getting to the quarter-finals is cause for celebration though - both for the team and for the entire people of Ukraine."

Ukraine are making their World Cup debut after winning independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

And Shevchenko, scorer of two goals in four games at this year's tournament, is determined to keep his side's World Cup campaign alive.

"Italy are one of the great footballing nations but the Ukrainian team has a big heart," he said.

"We will make things very difficult for them. We want to put Italy out."

Source: BBC Sport

Ukraine Footballers Score Herculean Feat -- Uniting The Country

KIEV, Ukraine -- Forget that they have reached further in the World Cup than any ex-Soviet nation since the fall of the communist bloc, Ukraine's football team has scored a more impressive feat: uniting this fractious land.

Ukrainian soccer fans in Kiev celebrate their national team's victory over Tunisia in the 2006 World Cup opening round 23 June 2006. The Ukrainian team has since qualified for the tournament's quarter-finals rallying the entire country disregarding political belongings.

That is no small deed in a country of 47 million that was split into two warring camps by the "orange revolution" in late 2004.

One side, the Ukrainian-speaking nationalist northwest, backed Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western reformer eventually swept to the presidency. The other, the Russian-speaking southeast, supported Viktor Yanukovych who wanted to retain close ties to Moscow.

But those lines have steadily blurred as Ukraine's boys in yellow advanced through their first-ever World Cup to secure a spot in the quarter-finals against Italy on Friday.

"Nothing unites quite like football," said Vassyl Androsenko, a 52-year-old engineer in Kiev.

Indeed the team's victories have led to utterances that would have been considered heresy only a month ago.

"Trust me, if Ukraine becomes champions I won't care even if Yanukovych becomes premier," said Andriy Ratskyi, a 48-year-old construction worker in Lviv, the nationalist bastion in the west where the pro-Russian ex-premier Yanukovych has been considered the evil boogeyman for nearly two years.

"The main thing is that we win," he said.

"When the team plays... nobody cares what political party the players belong to because at that moment they're all ours," said Yelena Stefanovich, a 32-year-old nurse.

"For the first time in the recent past the east and the west have a common goal," said Andriy, a 36-year-old economist in Lviv. "Usually what's good for Lviv is bad for (the eastern city of) Donetsk and vice versa. But our team's victory is good for everyone.

"I think these guys have done more tonight to reunite the country than all politicians put together," Petro Poroshenko, tipped to be the next parliament speaker, said after Ukraine secured its quarter-final spot by beating Switzerland in a penalty shootout earlier this week.

The football team can serve as an example to the nation's politicians whose bickering and infighting has kept the nation in perpetual turmoil for nearly two years.

Many fans agree.

Like the national parliament, Ukrainian footballers come from all corners of the country, but that doesn't prevent them from working together.

They don't argue whether to speak Ukrainian or Russian, but freely converse in both with each other on and off the field.

"Trust me, if our politicians could agree and understand each other like (star striker Andriy) Shevchenko and (fellow striker Andriy) Voronin and make decisions as quickly as (midfielder) Maxim Kalinichenko, people would like them as much as the footballers," said Andriy, a 36-year-old economist from Lviv.

"Today politicians can learn from footballers on how to work towards a goal," said Roman Bezsmertnyi, a top official in one of the parties that argued for three months on whether or not to reunite with its onetime allies in a governing coalition after parliament elections in March.

Aside from unity, the travails of the football team also seem to be having an surprising effect on academics.

"I watched the (winning) match against Saudi Arabia with people from my class and on the next day, we had a test and the whole class passed," said Ivanna Gutsylo, 18.

"In the class that had exams after (the loss) to Spain, five people failed," she said.

Source: AFP

Despite Coalition, Parliament Off To A Rough Start

KIEV, Ukraine -- Three months of protracted negotiations over the forming of a parliamentary majority came to an end on June 22 with Ukraine’s three Orange political factions finally coming together to sign a coalition agreement that will form the basis of the next government.

However, the tentative allies, as well as the opposition, continued to employ stalling tactics as the Post went to press on June 27.

The pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), and the Socialist Party signed the June 22 accord not only as the constitutionally allotted timeframe for establishing a parliamentary coalition was coming to an end, but also as Ukraine prepared to commemorate on June 28 the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of its Constitution, in 1996.

An amended version of the Constitution, adopted in December 2004 as a part of a compromise that brokered an end to the political crisis known as the Orange Revolution, shifted key powers from the president to parliament.

The recent coalition agreement finally settled which political factions would control the now more powerful prime minister and parliamentary speaker posts.

BYuT, as the largest member of the coalition, having received 129 seats in the March 26 elections, will nominate the candidate for prime minister, undoubtedly harkening the return of the bloc’s leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, to head the new government. Our Ukraine, as the second largest coalition member, with 80 seats, announced on June 27 that their bloc would nominate Petro Poroshenko, a business mogul and close associate of President Viktor Yushchenko, as parliamentary speaker.

However, lingering questions about the constitutionality of the package of reforms adopted during the Orange Revolution, ongoing negotiations as to when the parliament will swear in judges long ago appointed to Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, which could be called upon by Yushchenko to review the reforms, and the opposition’s blockade of parliament on June 27 illustrate that despite the establishment of a coalition, Ukraine’s transition to a parliamentary-presidential republic is far from over.

The Orange coalition agreement brought an end to months of speculation as to whether Our Ukraine would choose to form a government with its allies during the Orange Revolution – the SPU and BYuT – or build a coalition with the Party of Regions, the largest of the new parliament’s two opposition parties, which bitterly competed for the presidency against Yushchenko in 2004, setting off the Orange Revolution.

Yuriy Yakymenko, an analyst from the Razumkov Center think tank, noted that there was more than one factor contributing to the June 22 accord, including that more Ukrainians preferred an Orange coalition than one with Regions, and that Our Ukraine had more in common with BYuT and the SPU in terms of policy orientation, and as such, there were fewer issues to overcome during negotiations.

However, he added that the final contributing factor was that the timeframe for forming a coalition, explicitly outlined in the Constitution, was almost over.

“Everyone was working toward a specific outcome during these negotiations. But ultimately, the choice was either to make some concessions to form a coalition and get at least something, or not to reach a compromise, possibly forcing the dismissal of parliament and new elections and getting nothing,” Yakymenko said.

According to recent polls, Our Ukraine could lose even more votes to Tymoshenko if new parliamentary elections were held.

Political experts have welcomed the establishment of a parliamentary coalition as a positive step, adding that despite protracted negotiations, the coalition agreement was in itself an indicator of significant changes in Ukraine’s political system.

Dr. Olexiy Haran, the regional vice president of the Eurasia Foundation, noted that “this is the first time that Ukraine has had a parliament structured along party lines, and these parties have negotiated to create a coalition,” adding that a coalition government, common in Europe, is a step toward European standards for Ukraine.

Moreover, he added, “Ukraine’s new political system resembles in some ways the French “cohabitation” model, where the prime minister and president must cooperate.”

Experts anticipate that the government formed by this coalition has a better chance of functioning and holding together than the previous Orange team, which fell apart when Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko as premier in September 2005, amid allegations that she, now likely to be the country’s next premier, shook investor confidence and poorly managed Ukraine’s economy.

Yakymenko said “there are two important reasons why the new coalition government should function more effectively. First, the coalition partners have significant negative experiences to draw upon, having witnessed the consequences of perpetually arguing among themselves… and this is one of the reasons the coalition process took so long.”

Secondly, he said, the coalition agreement itself outlines mechanisms that put checks on coalition members, and explicit steps that should be taken if the coalition does not hold together.

For example, according to Yakymenko, the coalition agreement stipulates that members cannot raise issues during parliamentary sessions that have not been previously agreed upon by the Council of the coalition.

And, he added, although not a part of the coalition accord, the Orange coalition will probably vote through the parliamentary speaker and the prime minister in a “packet,” an agreement that would help ensure that coalition members vote through both nominees instead of voting for one and not the other.

If and when the coalition coalesces and forms a functioning government, these measures should theoretically diminish public divisiveness in parliament and encourage cooperation among the coalition members.

However, as the Post went to press on June 27, Our Ukraine’s position appeared to have changed once again, with the newly nominated parliamentary speaker, Petro Poroshenko, announcing that Our Ukraine does not categorically insist on voting through both the prime minister and speaker together in a packet, insofar as the pro-presidential party is counting on all sides to fulfill the coalition agreement with respect to the distribution and appointment of government and ministerial positions.

In the meantime, the parliament’s largest faction, the Donetsk-based Party of Regions, threatened to frustrate work in the parliament on June 26 if the Verkhovna Rada’s leaders are not elected by parliamentary procedure, which stipulates that the speaker should be elected by virtue of a secret ballot individually and not as a part of a “packet.” Moreover, Regions is demanding that parliamentary committees be distributed among all factions proportionally, including their own.

Eurasia Foundation’s Haran noted that “the effectiveness of the new Ukrainian coalition will depend on implementation of the priorities laid out in the coalition agreement, with its clearer divisions of power and political, judicial, and public administration reforms.”

Even if the new Orange coalition may benefit from greater experience and more clearly delineated responsibilities, this past week has shown that this certainly does not ensure that the new government will be introduced smoothly.

Poroshenko’s candidacy for speaker was announced on June 27 as the Party of Regions simultaneously disrupted the Verkhovna Rada’s plenary session, blocking off the podium, presidium, the places in parliament where the president and government sit, as well as the electronic system “Rada,” which allows people’s deputies to register and vote.

The coalition had planned to raise the question of voting on the speaker and prime minister on June 29, according to Tymoshenko, provided that Our Ukraine had selected its nominee for speaker.

Based on what occurred in parliament on June 27, Our Ukraine’s Mykhail Pozkyvanov stated at a press conference that “one possibility is to gather in another location and continue working, especially because we [the coalition] now have a majority,” not ruling out the possibility that Regions’ will continue its blockade into June 29.

On June 26, Our Ukraine proposed that at this disrupted June 27 parliament session, the Rada should swear in the Constitutional Court judges appointed by President Viktor Yushchenko last year. The previous parliament refused to administer the oath despite repeated requests by the president beginning in late 2005, and as a result, Ukraine has since been without a functioning Constitutional Court.

Our Ukraine’s Mykola Katerynchuk stated that the Communist Party of Ukraine, the new parliament’s second opposition party, intended to physically block the swearing-in process, possibly going as far as keeping President Yushchenko from entering the parliament, because the ceremony itself requires the presence of the president, parliamentary speaker and prime minister. Regions’ blockade in parliament effectively achieves the same objective, by bringing the parliament to a grinding halt.

An added complication is that in late May 2006, Yushchenko himself stated that he would not submit the candidacy of the newly appointed prime minister and parliamentary speaker, essentially a parliamentary formality, unless his appointed judges to the Constitutional Court were sworn in beforehand.

This is more than an exercise in checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches. At issue here is also the constitutionality of the reforms adopted in December 2004, which redistributed some of the extensive presidential powers that former President Leonid Kuchma had amassed during his two terms in office to the parliament, among other changes.

However, the legislative and constitutional reforms also effectively narrowed rather than widened the scope of public representation in the government, according to Vsevolod Rechytskyj, a professor of constitutional law at the National Academy of Law in Kharkiv.

One example is the change to the parliamentary election law, which, in addition to eliminating majority districts, restricts eligible people’s deputies to those running on party lists, excluding the possibility of independent locally supported candidates.

A long proponent of constitutional reforms, Oleksandr Moroz, whose Socialist party rounds out the Orange coalition and will nominate the first deputy prime minister, argued that the speaker and prime minister should be voted in before swearing in constitutional court judges.

Even though the reforms brokered in the context of the Orange revolution are unlikely to be overturned by the Constitutional Court, given the very complicated nature of this political-legal compromise, according to Yakymenko, lingering questions over their constitutionality threaten to hold up more immediate and pressing political objectives.

Source: Kyiv Post

World-Injury Ends World Cup For Ukraine's Voronin

BERLIN, Germany -- Ukraine striker Andriy Voronin will miss the rest of the World Cup because of a thigh injury, leaving the team to find a new partner for Andriy Shevchenko ahead of Friday's quarter-final against Italy.

Ukraine striker Andriy Voronin (L)

"He has slightly torn his thigh muscle," team spokesman Igor Miroshnychenko told Reuters on Wednesday. "He will be out for two weeks."

Voronin picked up the injury during Ukraine's second-round game against Switzerland on Monday, which went to a penalty shootout that Ukraine won 3-0.

The 26-year-old Voronin works well with Shevchenko, one of the world's most feared strikers, and the pair have played together in every match in the tournament so far.

Coach Oleg Blokhin could replace him with Andriy Vorobei, who started against Switzerland on Monday when attacking midfielder Serhiy Rebrov was dropped to the bench.

With Voronin out, the experienced Rebrov is likely to return to the starting line-up. Also back in the frame for Friday's match in Hamburg is defender Volodymir Yezersky, who missed the last three games with a thigh injury.

"He has been back in full training. If Blokhin needs to use him, he is ready to play," said Miroshnychenko.

The game kicks off at 1900 GMT on Friday and the winner will face either Germany or Argentina in the semi-finals.

Source: Reuters

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rising Living Costs Place Kyiv High On List Of Expensive Cities

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s capital ranks as one of the 50 most expensive places to live in the world, coming in 21st on a list of 144 cities surveyed by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, a global leader for human resources and related financial advice.

According to an annual survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Kyiv ranks as the 21st most expensive city to live in out of a list of 144 major world cities surveyed.

In Mercer’s annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey, Kyiv has moved up from 54th to 21st place compared with last year’s survey, sharing its position with Rome and Vienna.

With a score of 89.8, Kyiv is just around 10 points away from New York, which represented the survey’s base city at 100 points. The Ukrainian capital was separated by just a little over 30 points from Moscow, which this year replaced Tokyo as the world’s most expensive city, with a score of 123.9, according to Mercer’s ranking.

Kyiv’s dramatic rise to the top of the international list is mainly due to the appreciation of the local currency, the hryvnia, against the U.S. dollar, and “general price increases,” Mercer’s press release said.

Many other Eastern European cities, on the contrary, have dropped sharply in the ranking due to the devaluation of local currencies against the dollar, the release stated. For example, Prague has fallen 22 places to 50th place in the ranking.

Mercer’s survey measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each city, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment, and is aimed at helping multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

Kyiv real estate prices has skyrocketed in recent years, as has the cost of living in general due to rising fuel costs and other changes that followed in the wake of the Orange Revolution. Another change under the administration of President Viktor Yushchenko is lighter visa restrictions for foreigner visiting Ukraine.

“We have seen significant shifts in the cost of living rankings over the past few years, reflecting a changing global market.

For many companies, it can now be more expensive to send employees to work in Russia or Korea than places like Japan or Switzerland, which are often perceived to be more costly,” said Rebecca Powers, a senior consultant with Mercer’s international business.

According to Powers, more companies are now sending employees on expatriate assignments, so there is a greater need to keep pace with the cost of living changes.

Some 44 percent of multinational companies have reported an increase in the number of international assignments to and from locations other than their headquarters over the past two years, according to Mercer’s 2005/2006 International Assignments Survey.

Much of the increase in the number of international assignments, the survey says, is due to the widespread use of short-term placements, which have become more prevalent over the past few years.

Moscow has climbed up to the leading position in the Cost of Living ranking from the fourth place it held last year, while Seoul and Tokyo hold second and third places respectively.

“Steep accommodation costs have contributed to Moscow’s high ranking, as the recent property boom has driven up rental prices for expatriates,” explained Anna Krotova, Mercer’s Geneva-based senior researcher.

London has dropped two places from last year and ranks fifth, according to the survey.

Krotova stressed, however, that “cities move in the ranking due to prices and currencies’ variations vs. New York […] therefore the position in the ranking is a relative indicator [of the cost or living].”

Kyiv, for example, moved up by 33 positions from last year, but its index only went from 84.5 to 89.8, according to Krotova.

Source: Kyiv Post

Ukrainian Bodyguards Take Lessons From Foreign Trainers

KIEV, Ukraine -- Bodyguards have long been a part of the post-Soviet landscape in Ukraine, hired by the country’s new capitalist elite as much for decor as protection.

Titan bodyguards

But providing security is also a business, and like other businesses in Ukraine, is developing with input from abroad.

The Ukrainian Union of Police Peacekeepers Veterans (UUPPV) has invited in a foreign trainer to conduct an upgrade course for Ukrainian bodyguards in accordance with the standards of the International Bodyguards Association (IBA).

From June 15 to 21, the UUPPV held a course taught by British citizen James Shortt, the general director of IBA.

“Intelligence, professionalism and literacy are the main points of our training,” said Yuriy Kozlenko, the director of UUPPV.

According to Kozlenko, the idea is to change the Ukrainian public’s perception of bodyguards, as well as the mentality of the country’s bodyguards themselves.

“They shouldn’t be considered heroes who catch bullets for the person they are guarding, but should know how to arrange security at the highest level, so that an attacker will have no room for his attack,” Kozlenko said.

Shortt’s course was his second in Ukraine, following an earlier one held last January.

The market for bodyguards is on the rise in Ukraine. The State Guard Service, which is a market participant and regulator, has issued around 5,000 licenses to various security agencies since Ukraine became independent, and more than 300 private security companies are currently registered in Kyiv alone.

According to Kozlenko, as demand for professional bodyguards increases, private bodyguard companies are beginning to pay more attention to strategic thinking in addition to paramilitary training.

“Bodyguards must be intelligent, reliable and well-organized. We are talking about a completely different system of security, which is not spectacular, but effective and efficient,” said Kozlenko.

Shortt, who also licenses instructors according to IBA standards, teaches bodyguards with military backgrounds the total safety concept, including attention to their own behavior and dress.

According to the State Guard Service, the annual turnover of the bodyguard business in Ukraine is Hr 27-28 million ($5.6 million).

The biggest share of this business, around 25-30 percent, belongs to the State Guard Service, whose subunit, Titan, provides Hr 7.5 million ($1.5 million) worth of body guard services annually.

The State Guard Service, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, earned its leading position on the market due to its monopoly on the use of firearms.

Bodyguards from all other Ukrainian bodyguard agencies are prohibited from carrying firearms, according to Ukrainian legislation.

“Bodyguards from private companies work within the same legal limits as normal Ukrainian citizens, and the legal consequences of his client’s protection are the same as if he would be a passerby,” said Vitaly Maksymovych, the managing director of the private security firm Sprut, which provides security for 1,700 facilities in Kyiv.

Private bodyguards are allowed to carry only BB guns, gas pistols or rubber bullets.

All the same, according to Maksymovych, the industry isn’t suffering as result.

“Bodyguard services are the third largest security market niche after electronic security and physical security of real estate,” he said.

The majority of bodyguards’ clients live in Kyiv and other big cities, like Donetsk, Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk.

The State Guard Service said that they protect a third of all bodyguard clients across Ukraine.

State and private security companies agree that the bodyguard market will continue to grow, especially if new legislation is passed.

“Last year we got more than 50 new customers,” said Petro Synycky, the deputy director of the State Guard Service.

Titan’s staff totals 663 bodyguards and 229 reservists, he added.

Bodyguard services are still relatively cheap in Ukraine.

“In Kyiv, prices start from Hr 25 ($5) per hour. In other Ukrainian cities, the price is Hr 12-20 per hour. In Moscow, they cost at least 15-20 euros per hour,” said Synycky.

All Titan bodyguards are required to have a state certificate of qualification from a training school in Vinnytsya Region. This is the only place in Ukraine where a bodyguard can become qualified.

Shortt’s course is a supplement to this certification.

“There are a lot of private bodyguard schools, but none of them give you the right to work for the State Guard Service,” stressed Synycky.

“According to current legislation, bodyguards have to pass an appropriate course, medical, psychological, and take a drug test to get a job. It’s not necessary to go through military service, but it’s obvious that those who didn’t are not going to work in security,” said Maksymovych.

“The key point in a Ukrainian bodyguard school is to teach someone how to manage a dangerous attack by a malefactor, but they don’t teach them how to foresee it and keep it from happening,” said the UUPPV’s Kozlenko.

The IBA training program is oriented toward improvement and upgrading the skills of bodyguards who already work in this sphere.

“All training schools, like Vinnytsya training school, give only basic knowledge and the right to call a person a bodyguard, but it doesn’t mean he is a professional,” said Kozlenko.

It takes 40 days and Hr 1,624 ($325) to get a bodyguard diploma approved by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the Vinnytsya training school.

A total of 350 bodyguards graduated from the Vinnytsya training school in 2005, some of them currently work for Titan, and others for private companies.

“In our program, we stress physical training and drill tactics. We also pay attention to psychological preparation of bodyguards, but, unfortunately, it isn’t enough. So I would say the more upgrading trainings that are introduced in Ukraine, the better,” said Yuriy Kovalchuk, the deputy chief of training at the school.

“We train bodyguards for nongovernmental security services, business people and politicians who are not provided with free security,” said Kozlenko.

IBA plans to eventually hold courses to train Ukrainian trainers, who will then become licensed to upgrade Ukrainian bodyguards according to IBA standards.

Shortt’s basic training costs Hr 5,040 ($1,000) and lasts 40 hours; while specialized training costs Hr 2,520 and lasts 20 hours.

“We know Mr. Shortt from bodyguard competitions, which take place every autumn in Yalta. Some of our employees have visited his lectures, but now it is impossible to free bodyguards up from service for [additional] training,” said the State Guard Service’s Petro Synycky.

Source: Kyiv Post

Ukraine Leader Phones Coach, May Attend Next Game

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko phoned coach Oleg Blokhin on Tuesday to congratulate the national team on their latest World Cup victory and said he might come to support them in the quarter-finals.

Viktor Yushchenko (R) and Coach Oleh Blokhin in file photo

Kisses, chocolates and cakes were distributed and champagne drunk across Ukraine as Blokhin's side surpassed expectations by knocking out Switzerland 3-0 in a penalty shootout to set up a last eight meeting with Italy.

"The president said he and his family, together with millions of other fans, watched yesterday's game until late at night and he kept his fingers crossed, especially during the penalty shootout," Yushchenko's press service said.

"The president also hasn't ruled out turning up in person to support our team in the next game."

Hundreds of Ukrainians poured into the streets chanting "Forward Ukraine!" and waving flags in the national colours of blue and yellow after the second-round game went to extra time and penalties before ending in the early hours of the morning.

People congratulated each other on public transport and in offices across the country on Tuesday. Television channels showed several parliamentary deputies turning up for a session sporting national team scarves and caps.

Ukraine are playing in the World Cup finals for the first time. Before the tournament, they set a modest target of qualifying from their first round group.

Blokhin has admitted that Ukraine have not played the prettiest football but said results were what counted.

Ukraine face Italy in Hamburg on Friday.

Source: Reuters

Ukraine Toasts Its World Cup Heroes

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine toasted its hero footballers on Tuesday after the team defied expectations to secure a place in the World Cup quarterfinals by beating Switzerland 3-0 in a penalty shootout.

Ukrainian fans react during the World Cup match between Ukraine and Switzerland as the match is broadcast live in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, late Monday, June 26, 2006.

"We're in the quarterfinals!" screamed the headline of one Kiev daily.

"Let's call it like it is: They're heroes," one sports commentator said at the end of a match that the Ukrainians won after the match had finished locked at 0-0 after extra-time.

Thousands of Ukrainians shouting "Uuu-krai-na!" took to the streets throughout the former Soviet republic after the game finished in the early hours of the morning.

In the capital, Kiev, fans virtually took over the central Independence Square and Khreshchatik thoroughfare for hours, waving the blue-and-yellow national standard from honking cars and motorcycles.

In the western city of Lviv, hundreds of fans converged on the central square singing the national anthem.

In the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk, the celebrations lasted until 4am local time after the game was aired live on a giant screen in the centre of town.

Ukraine -- a country that was deeply divided during the 2004 "orange revolution", where government has been in continuous turmoil since, and where another gas showdown is looming with Russia -- was in need of some good news and its football team has provided it.

"The successful playing of the Ukrainian team works to unite Ukraine and instils patriotism," President Viktor Yushchenko said after congratulating the team on its historic win, according to a statement from his office.

"The president thanked the players and training staff for the wonderful present that they have given their fans" ahead the 15th anniversary of Ukrainian independence in August, the statement said.

The victory over Switzerland was all the more sweet because it was largely unexpected from a team that is making its first appearance at the World Cup.

"I don't think that anyone really believed in us," head coach Oleg Blokhin said in a post-match interview, according to the Interfax news agency. "Many had long ago written us off, thinking that debutants can't be competitive against experienced teams."

"I'm in seventh heaven," he said.

In a nation where the average monthly wage is $185 and where nationals need a visa to get into the European Union, the number of fans able to travel to Germany to support the team has been few, and most have had to contend with watching the matches at home.

Fans watch the matches on screens set up in the nation's major cities, while bars and restaurants broadcast the games and overflow with clients.

The president calls the head of the national football federation ahead of every game and business comes to a standstill during the matches.

Several large companies have allowed employees to either leave work to watch the matches or to cheer the home team on TV screens set up at the office.

Ukraine face Italy in a quarterfinal match on Friday.

Source: AFP

Yanukovych's Party Blocks Rostrum In Ukraine's Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine -- Members of Ukraine's Party of Regions have blocked the rostrum in the country's parliament Tuesday in a bid to thwart a session of the Supreme Rada.

Viktor Yanukovych's party, which won the largest share of the parliamentary vote, has declared itself in opposition to the Ukrainian authorities and the new parliamentary coalition, which comprises Western-leaning "orange" groups.

"They will not let any action take place in parliament," said Yevgeny Kushnarev, a Party of Regions leader.

Pro-presidential grouping Our Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc, and the Socialist Party agreed to form a coalition majority in the Rada June 22, after months of political wrangling following elections in March 26.

The new coalition is entitled to appoint the prime minister and most Cabinet members.

Source: RIA Novosti

Ukraine Survives On Penalty Kicks, Edges Swiss

COLOGNE, Germany -- After 120 minutes of soccer between Ukraine and Switzerland couldn't produce a goal, the game had to be decided by penalty kicks. Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin couldn't take it any more.

Ukraine players surround goalkeeper Oleksander Shovkovsky after the penalty shootout of the second round World Cup 2006 match between Switzerland and Ukraine in Cologne, June 26, 2006.

So he left. As his team went back on the field for soccer's flip-of-the-coin process for determining a winner, Blokhin headed for the dressing room at Rheinenergie Stadion.

"A penalty shootout is like Russian roulette," he said later. "For 120 minutes, I had to watch the game. (The shootout) was too much to take."

At least Blokhin could take refuge from his nerves. There was no hiding for the Swiss players who took their team's penalty shots. In a dismal performance that their coach attributed to "nerves," three Swiss players went to the spot and three Swiss players missed, a gallingly bad success rate. Two of the kicks were little more than dribblers that hit Ukrainian goalie Oleksandr Shovkovskyi. The other slammed off the bar.

When Ukraine's Oleg Gusev went to the left corner while Swiss goalie Pascal Zuberbuehler dived the other way to give Ukraine a 3-0 win on penalty kicks, the Ukrainian players exploded in glee while the Swiss players stood in shock. Five minutes after the game, while Ukrainian players danced in a circle around their flag at the other end of the field, Zuberbuehler stood hunched over in front of the goal. "The emotions overwhelm you after such an event," Shovkovskyi said.

Ukraine's Blokhin said: "I don't really know what to say to be honest. How shall I put what's going through my head? How shall I find the words?"

Ukraine is now the unlikeliest team in the tournament's final eight and will face Italy on Friday in Hamburg for a spot in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Switzerland was eliminated despite not allowing a goal in four games.

"There is an emptiness now," said Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn, who was firmly rooted on his bench long after the game had ended. "I'm not thinking very much about the match. . . . Right now, there is a very big disappointment, a feeling of emptiness which keeps me from giving much thought to he match."

There was a feeling of emptiness for many of the 45,000 fans, who frequently whistled in derision at the uninspired play on the field. While the two coaches talked of the level of play, whatever subtleties they saw were lost on most everyone else.

Ukraine is having a bit of a revival after starting the tournament by getting a 4-0 pasting from Spain. They followed that with a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia and then secured passage with an uninspiring 1-0 win over Tunisia. For the team touted in some circles as an underdog to go deep in the tournament, Ukraine, along with star forward Andriy Shevchenko, has been a major disappointment. But history will record Ukraine, taking part in its first major international tournament, is one of the final eight teams.

"I think nobody really had confidence in us," Blokhin said. "Most people had written us off. Some thought we had played like beginners, especially against Tunisia. There was harsh criticism of our tactics. Tonight, you see we can play good, high quality, football."

That "high quality football" produced few scoring chances for either team. Shevchenko put a header off a free kick off the crossbar in the 20th minute. Swiss striker Alexander Frei hit a curving free kick three minutes later that also caught the crossbar. In the second half, Andriy Gusin was just wide with a header off a corner kick. As regulation ended, whistling was the predominant sound in the stadium.

Finally, the game went to penalty kicks. Shevchenko took the first shot and it hit it neither far enough from the center or hard enough to get past Zuberbuehler, whose save left the Swiss giddy. ("Shevchenko missed?" Blokhin said afterward. "I did not know.") But Marco Streller did the exact same thing Shevchenko did, and the shootout was even.

Ukraine's Artem Milevskiy faked out Zuberbuehler, tapping a slow roller up the middle while the keeper dived to his right. Tranquilo Barnetta rocketed a shot off the bar and Serhiy Rebov followed for Ukraine with a blast to his right that made it 2-0. When Ricardo Cabanas' shot went into Shovkovskyi's body, the scene was set for Gusev. He went to far left corner, and Ukraine advanced.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ukraine Journalist's Mother Refuses Burial

KIEV, Ukraine -- The mother of a journalist slain nearly six years ago still doubts that a body in the morgue is that of her son, and she will continue to refuse burial, a newspaper reported Monday.

Heorhiy Gongadze, who wrote about high-level corruption on an Internet news site, was abducted in 2000. A decapitated body - identified by government authorities as Gongadze after numerous forensic tests - was later found in a forest outside Kiev.

The killing triggered months of protests against then-President Leonid Kuchma after a key witness later released tape recordings in which voices resembling those of Kuchma and others were heard conspiring against Gongadze.

Three former policemen went on trial for the killing earlier this year, while the investigation to find the mastermind is said to be continuing. Kuchma has denied any involvement.

Gongadze's mother, Lesya Gongadze, has repeatedly rebuffed official efforts to persuade her to claim the remains, which continue to be held in a morgue in the outskirts of Kiev.

Her refusal has helped, in part, to pressure authorities to solve a case that sparked public outrage against Kuchma, and remains a major test for President Viktor Yushchenko, who pledged to bring the journalist's killers to justice.

"I do not want to bury a stranger's remains,'' Lesya Gongadze was quoted as telling Gazeta Po-Kievsky. "Maybe the Prosecutor General's Office believes that if they give me the body, it will remove them of any responsibility for this dragged out case.''

Lesya Gongadze added that to claim the body, she would be forced to get a certificate "that wouldn't list the reason for death, the time or the place.''

Source: AP

Ukraine Outlasts Switzerland On PKs

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) -- Ukraine survived a match devoid of goals and good chances by beating Switzerland 3-0 in a penalty shootout Monday to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.

Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko reacts during the extra-time of the World Cup Round of 16 soccer match between Switzerland and Ukraine in the World Cup stadium in Cologne, Germany, Monday, June 26, 2006.

After 120 scoreless minutes, Oleg Gusev scored the deciding penalty.

Ukraine will face Italy in the quarterfinals on Friday in Hamburg.

Both teams came close to scoring in the first half of regular time, each hitting the bar.

Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko dived to head the ball from eight meters in the 21st, but the ball bounced to the ground and up onto the crossbar before being cleared.

Three minutes later, Switzerland striker Alexander Frei shot from 20 meters and the ball bounced off the crossbar.

In the 34th, Switzerland defender Johan Djourou, who started for injured Arsenal teammate Philippe Senderos, was taken off with a suspected groin injury. Stephane Grichting replaced him.

Ukraine goalkeeper Oleksander Shovkovsky punched away Hakan Yakin's set-piece from the right wing before the first half ended. Yakin was replaced in the 63rd minute by Marco Streller.

Shevchenko got close again in the 68th, chesting the ball and then dribbling through the Swiss defense before shooting from the edge of the area and past the post.

Five minutes later, Ludovic Magnin sent a free kick onto the roof of the net.

Tranquillo Barnetta got the only yellow card of the match in the 59th minute, for a push from behind. This set up a free kick by Shevchenko from 20 meters, which was deflected off the wall and out for a corner.

Switzerland's Johann Vogel had the best chance to score in extra time, sending an 18-meter shot toward the goal in the 101st, but Shovkovsky made the save.

Source: AP

Left Bank Could Boast Tallest Skyscraper In Ukraine's Capital Kyiv

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian company has announced the construction of a $340 million skyscraping hotel and office complex on Kyiv’s Left Bank, but questions remain as to when the project, which will give the city its tallest building to date, will get off the ground.

Gradostroy's other projects

The 60-floor building is slated to include a shopping mall, sports center and underwater restaurant on a 14-hectare plot of land in the capital’s Darnytsya district, but the developer, Gradostroy, still has to obtain a building permit.

“There is only one way to build such a high building. First, you have to get a permit from Kyiv’s town planning council to see if the local council needs this building. Afterward, we take up the project to check for safety issues,” said Anatoly Necheporchuk, deputy chief of the structural engineering department at the Ministry of Construction and Architecture.

“Ukraine’s construction business is far ahead of Ukrainian building legislation,” said Ihor Khlopyachy, marketing director for Gradostroy.

Gradostroy, which has been on the market since 2001 and was one of the contractors for Kyiv’s up-market Mandarin Plaza, has launched two residential buildings in Kyiv and has another one currently under construction.

The Darnytsa project will be Gradostroy’s and Kyiv’s tallest building.

Buildings higher than 25 floors have additional technical requirements, especially with regard to fire safety, said Necheporchuk.

“In the near future, there will be 30 building projects in Kyiv that exceed this limit, but only five of them will be put into use any time soon,” he added.

“It is not a question of a building’s technical feasibilities. The main thing is that firefighters have ladders that only go up 73 meters. This is our safety limit. So above all, builders need to provide some sort of external evacuation for people,” said Necheporchuk.

And this all costs money, with building costs going up by 30 percent per square meter if a building goes higher than 25 floors, according to Necheporchuk.

“It makes sense to build up, to multiply the prime price of buildings and to lengthen the terms of returns on a building, but only if the high cost of land or high demand for it in a certain area justifies this,” said Vitaliy Boyko, deputy director of Ukrainian Trade Guild, a consulting company that took part in the initial marketing research of Gradostroy’s project.

The Trade Guild has suggested a different solution for the hotel and office complex.

If they get the permit, it will take Gradostroy 50-60 months to finish construction, putting the completion dates somewhere near the end of 2011.

Real estate consulting companies working in Ukraine note that the market for commercial real estate is expected to continue growing for the next several years, and Gradostroy is confident that it will make a return on its initial investment, the amount of which Khlopyachy declined to specify.

“Our company has already started renting the area,” said Khlopyachy, adding purchasing the land would be much more expensive.

In the meantime, the company is looking for more investment, including foreign investment, to cover further costs.

“A single investor can’t afford a building that costs around $340 million. We will need four or five different sources. I think they will be primarily foreign,” said Khlopyachy.

The complex will include a 27,000-square-meter shopping mall surrounding the 60-story building, in which the hotel starts on the 35th floor, and office space occupies 39,000 square meters from the ground to the 34th floor. A parking lot with 1,500 parking spaces and a 450-seat underwater restaurant are also planned.

“Location, location and location is the main thing when talking about this class of hotels and office space, said Khlopyachy, “which is why it’s still too early to decide this. Nevertheless, we are going to create the highest standards ever seen in Ukraine.”

“The Left Bank is very attractive for investments in residential real estate because the population keeps growing there,” said Ukrainian Trade Guild’s Boyko.

But the main disadvantage of the city’s Left Bank is its limited natural and infrastructural resources, as well as distance from the center, he added.

“There will never be an A-class office on Kyiv’s Left Bank, but it has very good prospects for large-format commercial real estate, especially in the areas of the Livoberezhna and Kharkivska subway stations,” said Boyko.

“It’s improbable that a 60-floor trade-office-hotel complex on the Left Bank will be profitable,” said Valentyn Sovyetov, fund director of XXI Century Investments, a Kyiv-based real estate developer and manager.

“The cost of land is lower and the total cost price may also be lower than on the Right Bank, but the demand for high-class hotels and offices is definitely there [on Right Bank],” he said.

Still, Gradostroy is convinced that they’ve got the location right.

“This complex will be a 20-minute drive from Boryspil International Airport, the only one in Kyiv, which will be very convenient for businesspeople, athletes and VIP clients, who are the target market for the future hotel,” said Khlopyachy.

“There is increasingly less space in the center of the Right Bank every year, so we are assuming that office and hotel buildings will be moved to the Left Bank within five years,” he added.

But much still remains to be done.

Gradostroy has yet to decide who will manage the hotel and has itself taken on the role of general contractor and developer.

“This is the first time that we are standing as the initial investor, developer and general contractor. Subcontracting services will be outsourced,” said Khlopyachy.

“Taking into account international practice, it is more effective to divide the process of development and the contracting processes between the different companies of the investment,” Sovyetov said.

“Very often on the Ukrainian market the investor, developer and general contractor are all the same person. The lion’s share of real estate is built on one’s own funds,” said Boyko.

Source: Kyiv Post

Ukraine Ready To Make History

COLOGNE, Germany -- Ukraine can continue their rise from the ashes to beat Switzerland and reach the quarter-finals on Monday. Oleg Blokhin's side were routed 4-0 by Spain in their first-ever World Cup match, but have now found their feet at the highest level.

An equally thumping 4-0 destruction of Saudi Arabia and a slightly fortuitous 1-0 win over Tunisia has buoyed the Ukrainians' faith.

Blokhin insists he has already fulfilled his ambitions in progressing to the knockout rounds, but he may now be revising those aims given it is the Swiss and not the more imposing - on paper at least - French that his players face in Cologne.

Kobi Kuhn's men have been solid rather than spectacular so far in squeezing out of a group with France, South Korea and Togo.

Striker Alex Frei has two goals to his name already, but the Rennes striker - as he showed against France and the Koreans - needs too many chances to score and as the tournament progresses those are few and far between.


The Ukrainians have more clinical Shevchenko - who also has two goals - the lively Andriy Voronin and a reborn Sergiy Rebrov, who will pose a significant threat to a Swiss back four lacking the calming presence of Philippe Senderos.

The unfortunate Arsenal defender's club team-mate Johann Djourou will step in alongside Patrick Muller, but Djourou's lack of experience and Muller's relative lack of pace will see the Swiss struggle.

Swiss captain Johann Vogel and the industrious Raphael Wicky will need to get on top of Anatoly Tymoschuk and Maxim Kalinichenko in midfield if the Swiss are not to be overrun.

But Blokhin does have worries of his own with Vyacheslav Svidersky and Andriy Rusol both suspended, and promising youngster Dmitro Chigrynskiy likely to miss the rest of the tournament after picking up a thigh injury.

"We don't know who we are going to play in central defence," Blokhin admitted.

PREDICTION: 1-0 - Ukraine to sneak through, Shevchenko the hero

Source: EuroSport

Poll: Ukraine's Top Politicians Enjoying Less Trust

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s top politicians have seen a drop in public trust, as negotiations among Rada factions to form a coalition government have dragged on into their third month since parliamentary elections were held in March.

According to the results of a survey conducted this June by Democratic Initiatives Foundation, a Kyiv-based non-governmental organization, public trust in all of Ukraine’s top political figures has steadily declined since the beginning of the year.

The least trust is enjoyed by Communist leader Petro Symonenko, with 41.1 percent of respondents saying they do not trust him at all, and another 27 percent expressing partial distrust.

The next least trusted politician in the survey is Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, with 30.5 percent total and 30.4 percent partial distrust among respondents.

Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, President Viktor Yushchenko and faction leader Yulia Tymoshenko (see table) scored third, fourth and fifth in the poll, which rated six politicians in all.

“The people are disappointed,” said Ilko Kucheriv, head of Democratic Initiatives Foundation. “Politicians have failed to reach agreement on the creation of a government coalition. They have proved incompetent in deciding the country’s fate,” Kucheriv said.

“These days, the electorate is demonstrating a higher level of political and civil awareness than those for whom they voted, and this dragging on of the talks has resulted in people getting deeply disappointed in a number of key political figures.”

Public expectations were too high to begin with, according to political analyst Oles Doniy, who emphasized that public distrust is nothing new even for the country’s current political elite.

“Orange” leaders began experiencing a decline in public confidence as early as last summer, amid the personal conflicts that broke out inside the Orange camp, with the situation becoming further aggravated after the gas conflict with Russia in January.

“Now this tendency is just getting deeper,” Doniy said.

“Today we have the electorate divided roughly in two equal parts. If some third political force appears on the horizon, public trust in current political leaders will fall even further,” he added.

Democratic Initiatives experts also used the poll to estimate how much people’s lack of confidence in key politicians went up within the last half year.

For instance, survey results show that distrust in Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Donetsk-based Regions faction, increased by 6.7 percent, doubling since the beginning of the year. Lack of confidence in Viktor Yushchenko, who beat out Yanukovych for the presidency in 2004, rose twofold, by 12.3 percent.

The results for other leading politicians were equally pessimistic.

Distrust in Yulia Tymoshenko increased by 11.6 percent, in Yekhanurov by 19.7 percent, Moroz by 8.6 percent, and Symonenko by only 4.3 percent within the last six months.

Thus, while Symonenko enjoys the highest level of distrust among his countrymen on the whole, the level of this distrust increased less since the beginning of the year in comparison to his political colleagues.

Following the March 26 parliamentary elections, the Regions party has the largest number of seats in the Verkhovna Rada (186), followed by Tymoshenko’s Bloc (129), Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine (80), the Socialists (33) and the Communists (21).

If negotiations on the formation of a coalition continue to drag on through the summer, Doniy sees further, but not drastic, public pessimism, as each parliamentary faction has a stable share of the core electorate.

On the other hand, if new strong politicians appear on the scene, especially outside the parliament, or if a parliamentary opposition is formed, public trust in the leaders of the current five Rada blocs will diminish.

Political analyst Andriy Yermolaev, who believes the coalition talks will continue until the end of the parliamentary session, said a government coalition should be put off until September.

According to Yermolaev, recent months have seen a great deal of political hysteria, which has spoiled the reputations of many politicians, compared to the kind of public support they enjoyed just after the March 26 elections.

Also, Yermolaev said, many of Ukraine’s current economic problems are going to become more obvious in the fall when, in particular, energy tariffs increase again, demanding a resumption of gas talks with Russia. This will therefore be a better time to return to the idea of a broad governmental coalition, he said.

A recent study has also indicated that consumer confidence has dropped in connection with ongoing bickering between Ukraine’s leading political camps and their failure to form a coalition.

A quarterly survey conducted by GfK Ukraine (the Ukrainian affiliate of the international market research firm GfK-Group), and Kyiv-based International Center for Policy Studies (ICPS), found that the Consumer Confidence Index, a measure of the population’s confidence in the future, dropped by 6.6 points to 97.1 between February and June.

The fact that the CCI value is below the 100 mark indicates that negative consumer confidence prevails in Ukrainian society, according to the study, which notes that “consumer confidence in Ukraine deteriorated due to the political uncertainty that has prevailed in the country for more than half a year.”

Some may ask what will happen to public trust in Yushchenko if the Our Ukraine party forms a coalition with the Party of Regions.

Analysts agree that in this case, Yushchenko is likely to suffer a further loss in his popularity. However, popularity figures never change too rapidly.

According to Andrey Yermolayev, significant changes in public opinion are more likely to be observed within several months after a coalition is formed.

Doniy believes an “Orange” coalition, including Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Moroz, is more probable than one between Yushchenko and Yanukovych.

In the latter case, Our Ukraine will lose part of its electorate, with the most politically aware members deserting to Yulia Timoshenko. He said that Tymoshenko’s flamboyant personality has long since started to overshadow Yushchenko’s.

“This is natural. Her position is much more consistent and still much more aggressive,” Doniy said.

But Democratic Initiatives Foundation’s Kucheriv is not so sure about Yushchenko’s popularity dropping.

“Our Ukraine swore more than once that it would never be with the Party of Regions. Of course, if they now break their promise, they will lose some electoral support,” Kucheriv said.

“But as to Yushchenko himself, his popularity rate is difficult to predict, because he is not positioning himself as an active participant in the coalition talks. So, even if Our Ukraine goes with the Regions, trust in Yushchenko is more likely to remain generally the same.”

Source: Kyiv Post

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ukraine's Orange Coalition Faces Hurdles

KIEV, Ukraine -- They traded insults and accusations of corruption for nine months. Now with the team that led Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution reunited and aiming to govern together again, maintaining the peace may turn out to be the easiest task on their agenda.

Bloc leader Yulia Tymoshenko is seen in the parliament, a yellow rose in her hand, in Kiev, Ukraine, on Friday, June 23, 2006.

The pro-Western reformers have little time for a honeymoon, as their list of promises includes ending Ukraine's energy dependence on Moscow and earning Kiev an invitation to join the European Union.

Good will has largely been depleted, and problems have been piling up over the 87 days it took them to set aside their mutual distrust and pool the 239 lawmakers needed for a majority in the 450-member parliament.

"Very little government work was done," said Tammy Lynch, a Ukrainian expert at Boston University's Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy. "Reforms stalled. The economy has slowed even further. Gas debt has risen, and now Russia is saying it wants to raise the price of gas again," she said.

"In addition to working on any personality issues that they all have, they will face some serious problems in just carrying out the work of the country."

But it is the personality conflicts that have captured the interest of this nation of 47 million. Yulia Tymoshenko, whose feisty manner and striking appearance made her one of the most high-profile figures of the Orange Revolution, is slated to return as prime minister next week.

President Viktor Yushchenko will forward her name to parliament on Monday, as part of the coalition deal. But in a bid to counterbalance the ambitious Tymoshenko, her archrival, former Security Council chief Petro Poroshenko, is also expected to make a comeback as parliamentary speaker.

It was their behind-the-scene battles that erupted into open conflict last September, leading to Poroshenko's resignation and Tymoshenko's dismissal. Tymoshenko famously went on live television to describe that afternoon, recalling "the crying, sniffling" Poroshenko. He fired back that she had a vivid imagination.

"This coalition is very good for Yushchenko," said Kiev-based political analyst Serhiy Taran. "What you'll have is a low-level, constant conflict between parliament and the prime minister. Tymoshenko and Poroshenko will be arguing all the time. Yushchenko will get to step in, giving him considerable influence."

But Tymoshenko will have a much stronger hand than she did when Yushchenko first tapped her to be prime minister. He reportedly gave her that job over strong misgivings, and then peopled the Cabinet with his appointees, leaving her largely isolated. Yushchenko also created a virtual shadow government under Poroshenko that worked to keep Tymoshenko in check.

This time, she names nine out of the 17 ministerial posts, including such heavyweights as the finance minister, economy minister and fuel and energy minister. She also gets to choose the head of the state property committee, responsible for privatizing state property, and reportedly also the next head of Naftogaz, the state gas company.

In essence, Yushchenko has handed her control over the economy.

Tymoshenko said her first priority would be to bring order to Ukraine's energy sector, paving the way for what could become another brutal tussle with Moscow over energy prices. During last winter's dispute, the Russian gas monopoly temporarily turned off the taps to Ukraine, also triggering disruptions to supplies to Western Europe.

Tymoshenko, who was not involved in the negotiations that ended that crisis, has called the deal a betrayal of national interests. It led to a nearly twofold price increase for Ukraine, and carved out a powerful role for a little-known middleman company.

This week, Tymoshenko repeated her criticism, saying the deal needed deep revision. Russia's gas monopoly, Gazprom, called her statement "alarming."

Moscow will be watching closely to see how much power _ and longevity _ this new coalition will have, analysts said.

There is not much room for failure. The opposition Party of Regions, which holds a massive 186 seats in parliament, is waiting in the wings.

Source: AP

Ukraine Hopes Shevchenko Can Penetrate Solid Swiss Defense

BERLIN, Germany -- An out of form Ukraine will have its hands full against Switzerland on Monday, as both teams attempt to move forward to the World Cup quarter-finals.

Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko celebrates after scoring a penalty against Tunisia.

Ukraine superstar striker Andriy Shevchenko break new ground when they face a young and hungry Switzerland in the knock-out stage of the World Cup here on Monday. The Ukrainians reached the second phase in their first appearance at the World Cup after salvaging their chances in the first round.

Outclassed 4-0 by Spain in their first group match, they looked to be heading for an early exit before Shevchenko, the team's undoubted leader, recovered from a knee injury and drove his team to a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

The 29-year-old who has just joined Chelsea's star-studded squad in a deal worth 30 million pounds (€43.5 million), however, just barely led his side to a 1-0 win over Tunisia, which clinched the runner's-up spot in Group H. He won a questionable penalty even though there seemed to have been no contact with the defender.

Shevchenko played down his contribution, saying the team unit would be the key to Ukraine reaching the quarter-finals where they would face either Italy or Australia, who also meet on Monday. "All the teams are strong at this stage. If the team shows heart then with our fans behind us we can hopefully go further," Shevchenko said.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin knows the worth of great strikers having been one himself for Dynamo Kiev and the Soviet Union, scoring 42 times in 112 international games. But while all eyes will be on Shevchenko, Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn has tipped the in-form Alexander Frei to be the goal-scoring surprise of the final stages.

Frei, the former bad boy of Swiss football who was sent home in disgrace after spitting at England's Steven Gerrard at Euro 2004, netted twice in Switzerland's march into the last 16. The 26-year-old, who is hoping to wrap up a move from French club Rennes to Germany's Borussia Dortmund, notched the first goal in the 2-0 victory over Togo and caused an uproar among the South Korean players when he slid the ball home from what appeared to be an offside position in the 2-0 victory as the Swiss won Group G on Friday.

"He has come back from a long injury," Kuhn said. "He had two games with Rennes and then joined the national squad which gave him the opportunity to come back into form. I think he can score more goals in the competition. Whether or not he will be the best of the strikers, I don't know, but there is a chance."

Kuhn also singled out Pascal Zuberbuhler, the only goalkeeper of the first stage to keep three clean sheets. "No goals against us in three matches - I am grateful to the defense and the goalie," said the silver-haired Kuhn.

One setback for the Swiss is the absence of Arsenal center-back Philippe Senderos who scored the opening goal against South Korea but later fell and dislocated his shoulder.

If they reach the last eight, Switzerland would equal their best ever performance at a World Cup and Kuhn said a country not known for football fever was getting behind its best team for decades. "Switzerland now has a way to express its national pride," he said. "We are growing in confidence and now anything is possible. We can beat Ukraine and advance further - why not?"

Source: AFP

Turkmen Gas Price Hike: Implications For Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Turkmenistan's proposal to raise the price of gas it sells to Gazprom, from $65 per 1,000 cubic meters at present to $100 in the second half of 2006, holds potentially momentous implications for Ukraine.

It can help emancipate Ukraine from the RosUkrEnergo gas deal that poses serious risks to Ukraine's sovereignty, future prosperity, and political system.

At present, Russia uses most of its intake of Turkmen gas to supply Ukraine through the Kremlin-brokered RosUkrEnergo scheme. This took effect in January-February 2006 and is supposed to last for five years.

Mixing large volumes of Turkmen gas priced at $65 with smaller volumes of Russian gas priced at $230, RosUkrEnergo sells the mix to Ukraine at $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. This is a deeply discounted price by any European standard, a heavy subsidy designed -- along with distribution arrangements in Ukraine -- to facilitate deep Russian inroads into Ukraine's industry and political system.

In effect, Moscow maneuvered Turkmenistan into subsidizing Ukraine's economy, albeit in ways that advance Russia's own interest to pull Ukraine into a relationship of dependence.

The RosUkrEnergo scheme is only made possible by exploiting Turkmenistan. The deal buys economic and political leverage for Russia in Ukraine and enriches an obscure Gazprom-connected group in the process, all at Turkmenistan's expense.

When Moscow got Kyiv to sign onto that scheme in January and February 2006, it brought at least 20 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas to the negotiating table just for the first half of this year, at the rock-bottom price of $65, as a decisive Russian "near abroad" asset, even as Russia sells its own gas in the "far abroad" at $230. Again, Russia's near-monopoly on the export of Turkmen gas made this possible.

From January through April 2006 (data for May are not available), RosUkrEnergo sold to Ukraine 15.6 billion cubic meters of "Central Asian" gas (presumably all of it Turkmen), mixed with 4.7 billion cubic meters of Russian gas (Concorde Capital [Kyiv], June 6).

Few governments or analysts asked in January-February whether Turkmenistan had freely consented to the RosUkrEnergo deal, let alone to colonial exploitation of its resources by Gazprom in perpetuity. Ashgabat's June 19-21 move suggests that it would not freely consent.

The Turkmen price hike could scuttle the Ukraine-RosUkrEnergo deal and, with it, a key instrument of Russia's policy in Ukraine. To be sure, Moscow has all along cautioned that it might raise the price of the gas mix it sells to Ukraine.

It could either hike the price of Russian gas in that mix "in accordance with market conditions," or raise the price of the whole mix in the event that Turkmenistan hiked the price of its gas. But these cautionary notes are calculated to keep Ukraine's government and key economic interest groups uneasy.

Moscow wants to reserve for itself the decisions on prices, volumes, and schedules of delivery, in line with its economic and political strategy in Ukraine. Instead of this, Turkmenistan's price hike would force Moscow to raise substantially the price on RosUkrEnergo's gas sold to Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Kyiv's view, Moscow has no right to do so as the January 2006 agreements with Gazprom and RosUkrEnergo set the $95 price for five years.

Kyiv officials insist that any early increase above that level could mean collapse of the national economy.

Thus, Ashgabat's decision could nullify the value of a painstakingly assembled Russian mechanism of influence over Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine faces a quantitative deficit of 10 to 12 billion cubic meters in its gas balance for the second half of 2006.

Kyiv seeks to activate the December 22, 2005, agreement of intent whereby Turkmengaz was to sell 40 billion cubic meters of gas to Naftohaz Ukrainy in 2006, at prices of $50 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first half of the year and $60 in the year's second half.

Turkmenistan never implemented that agreement for a number of reasons, including: Moscow's slightly better price offer at $65 from January 1, 2006; Gazprom's unwillingness to provide transit for Turkmen gas to Ukraine (a service that Gazprom had provided until December 2005); Ukraine's persistent inability to settle arrears for past deliveries of Turkmen gas, raising questions about solvency; and general mishandling of the negotiations with Ashgabat by Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov and Naftohaz chairman Oleksiy Ivchenko, who also negotiated the RosUkrEnergo deal.

On June 20 (the day after Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller's failed talks with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov), Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko telephoned Niyazov requesting that he receive Plachkov urgently for discussions on gas purchases and settling the arrears.

However, Plachkov's concept would appoint the same RosUkrEnergo to act as transport operator of the new Turkmen gas supplies to Ukraine; and would only pay $60 for Turkmen gas (that is, less than Russia's offer already deemed unacceptable by Turkmenistan), on the pretense that the December 22 agreement was a "contract."

Regarding the arrears, Plachkov indicated while still in Kyiv that settlement of the remaining $64 million is being postponed from June to October.

The June 22 nomination of Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister, awaiting a new Orange coalition government, holds the promise of canceling the RosUkrEnergo agreements. Tymoshenko's first statement in her new capacity reaffirms that commitment, in line with her electoral campaign message.

Turkmenistan's gas price hike to Gazprom should help dismantle the RosUkrEnergo deal.

Source: Eurasia Daily Monitor