Thursday, July 27, 2006

Be Careful What You Say

Be Careful What You Say

by Masha Gessen

A wonderful example of pressuring a court in Russia, by the Chief Health Inspector of Russia.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Heritage Survives a Complicated Past in Lviv, Ukraine - New York Times

Heritage Survives a Complicated Past in Lviv, Ukraine - New York Times

Touring Lviv.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Foreign Affair

A Foreign Affair (

A good article on the Foreign Men - Ukrainian Women trade in Kyiv. There is an underlying sadness to all of this. Both parties are trying to fill gaps in their lives but it seems they are not often successful

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Positive Notes on Yalta and Odessa

Guardian Unlimited Travel | Countries | Heaven and Hel

Sunday, June 25, 2006 - Soviet Music

For all of your Soviet Music needs. This is a great resource. - Soviet Music

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Phone Seizure Seen as Example of Russian Corruption - New York Times

Phone Seizure Seen as Example of Russian Corruption - New York Times

On doing business in Russia.

Friday, May 19, 2006

From Soviet-Era Flea Market to a Giant Makeshift Mall - New York Times

From Soviet-Era Flea Market to a Giant Makeshift Mall - New York Times

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

From Russia, With Dread - New York Times

Promoting a good investment climate, Saratov Russia

by Andrew E. Kramer, NY Times.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Just keep it out of the hands of private drivers.

news | dai continues battles with illegal light and siren car owners :.: 5 Kanal :.: First News Channel of Ukraine

This is a sign that Ukraine is different than Russia.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Russia Called Too Reliant on Petroleum - New York Times

Russia Called Too Reliant on Petroleum - New York Times

Russia is getting the "Dutch disease." The chances of Russia actually moving to the Norway model of investing the oil windfall is very low. The flow of funds is always headed into very unproductive pockets.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Phil H. Webber:50 years of photos.

A rememberance of Phil Webber

A wonderful collection of the work of Phil Webber, long-time photographer for the Seattle P-I. The photos are great history of the last 50 years of Seattle. They show the civil boosterism that has always been a part of Seattle plus they show some of the grime and reality that make up Seattle. This type of large-scale collection of photos is something the internet was made for.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Poison and Power In Ukraine

Poison and Power In Ukraine

a fine column by Ann Applebaum in todays Washington Post.

Squirrels fighting back.

from Foriegn Notes blog, 

Ukraine's richest man Rinat Akhmetov, and a newly-elected VR deputy, received an unpleasant surprise yesterday when the Donetsk oblast state court took away 145 hectares of his land that had once been part of the Donetsk botanical gardens. The Court anulled a decision taken by the Donetsk City Council to give Akhmetov, a.k.a. 'Botanik', the land on which, apparently, Akhmetov has a residence, together with several buildings built by Viktor Yanukovych.

The land in question comprises an arboretum, and has been transferred back to a communal enterprise: "The Donetsk Ecological Investment Project".

On 10th September 2004, just before the Orange Revolution and while Yanukovych was still PM, former President Leonid Kuchma signed an 'ukaz' reducing the area of the Donetsk botanical gardens by 63 hectares. Many similar transfers of portions of nature reserves and reservations to Kuchma's flunkeys took place in the months before the Autumn 2004 Presidential elections.

Meanwhile, Oleksiy Ivchenko, chairman of Ukrainian State Gas Company 'NaftohazUkrainy', has been personally ordered by President Yushchenko to return his new company car, an S-class Mercedes AMG [list price $215,000] back to the showroom for resale. The President, in a press conference today insisted a moratorium be held on e.g. the purchase of expensive automobiles, apartments, and similar 'perks' for high-ranking civil servants.

Last week 'Ukrainska Pravda' had exposed the purchase of Ivchenko's 'new toy' to its readers, at a time when rumours were circulating that 'NaftohazUkrainy' are on the verge of bankruptcy. Ivchenko is #25 on the NSNU list of newly-elected VR deputies. There are unconfirmed reports that he may soon be fired.

It's a pity Yushchenko did not 'crack the whip' early last year when he first became President.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

news | kyiv: police identify real estate scammer :.: 5 Kanal :.: First News Channel of Ukraine

Police identify real estate scammer :.: 5 Kanal :.: First News Channel of Ukraine
As least some scams are being investigated in Kiev.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Room 12A: Truth to be told

Room 12A: Truth to be told

A fine view on the recent Ukrainian election.

A Russian 'Wine Blockade' Against Georgia and Moldova - New York Times

A Russian 'Wine Blockade' Against Georgia and Moldova - New York Times

Russia is taking giant strides to join the WTO.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

EU Monitors Praise Ukraine's Election Conduct - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY

EU Monitors Praise Ukraine's Election Conduct - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY..

This is good news.

What's the Matter With Kiev? By Scott MacMillan

What's the Matter With Kiev? By Scott MacMillan

A very solid account of Sunday's election. The revolution was not about individuals but about openning the process, it did.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Browder Barred as a Security Threat

Browder Barred as a Security Threat

A major international investor has visa problems. Is being an active investor in Russia a cause to become a "security threat"?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hedge Fund Chief Can't Get to Russia - New York Times

Hedge Fund Chief Can't Get to Russia - New York Times

Russia, promoting a clear, open environment for international investors.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Restuarants in Kyiv

Well the Kyiv Post featured restaurants in last week’s edition. They included a listing of restaurants but with a few notable missing restaurants.  Apparently, Arizonas is no longer a restaurant, also missing was Sam’s Steakhouse and Tequila House. Now they did state that the list was not intended to be all-inclusive but why some and not others? A least one restaurant, Persia on Institutionska has not been in business for over a year. It probably was a mistake to include a directory of restaurants. Perhaps Kyiv has grown enough that it no longer needs directories on places to eat.

Ukraine Sees Bright Future on Ski Slope - New York Times

Ukraine Sees Bright Future on Ski Slope - New York Times:
by Otto Pohl
"'It's the sign of a good city. Good roads and a good symphony orchestra. When we have those things, you know Ukraine will have arrived.'"

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Otis Chandler

Otis Chandler has died. He was the last mythic Californian. Here is an article from the Los Angeles Times, it does a great job summing up his place in California history.
A prince who earned his crown

February 28 2006

Catching a glimpse of Otis Chandler striding through The Times' newsroom was like sighting a griffin: a creature of mythology, half-lion and half-eagle. In his person, Otis stitched together two ideas as dissonant as Valvoline and Sparkletts: a believer in that most-democratic of instruments, a free and fair press — the only business mentioned in the Constitution — and an heir to that most regressive of institutions, an absolute monarchy.Chandler, who died early Monday, was the fourth generation of a dynasty of business monarchs, and every story told of kings and queens could be told of him: the gifted and golden prince, the formidable queen mother urging him on, the contentious and jealous family nipping at his flank.
His kingdom was Southern California. As owners and operators of the Los Angeles Times, his family had virtually ruled it for nearly 100 years, enriching itself as the region prospered under its marching orders.Otis was a child of his name and his city, but he was also a child of the age. He became publisher in 1960, the year that John F. Kennedy was elected president. The nation was looking to new frontiers, and so was Otis. Ask not what your newspaper can do for you; ask what you can do for your newspaper.The paper he inherited was so lousy that humorists made a joke of it. The city he was born in was sneered at like some beautiful but stupid starlet, wanting in substance, culture, taste and history.To his forebears, the newspaper was just a means to an end — a club, a prod, a reward. Otis made the newspaper its own purpose, and its own mission. And he elevated the city's reputation as he elevated the paper's. His confidence was monarchical. He asked his editor, Nick Williams, "What does it take to make this the best paper in the world?" and he set about with a checklist to make it happen.My colleague Eric Malnic, who just retired after more than 40 years here, said Otis was the right man, in the right place, at the right time, with the right tools. He professionalized the newspaper, hiring college-educated writers who could cover beats — science, politics, the bold social and racial changes of the 1960s — with sophistication and judgment, not with the gee-whiz hokum or the vituperative boosterism of the old L.A. Times. Mass and class, he said, was the paper's mission.That's why reporters and editors admired him. He'd park his Duesenberg in the corporate garage and show up in the newsroom at least once a week to chat about this story or that series. On Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve, he'd walk through the building, thanking everyone working holiday shifts — thanking them by name. He even showed up at my section's little Friday potluck lunch, and knew everyone, including the rankest of cubs — me. The Times' reputation was his reputation, and he made us feel that it was ours too.THE PAPER was a responsibility; the Chandler family image was, I suspect, a burden. Otis spent lavishly to create a great American newspaper — and didn't hurt himself financially by it. But it seemed to me as if he were laundering a family fortune earned in some part through decades of robber-baron deals "in an age," wrote historian Kevin Starr, "unbothered by later niceties regarding conflict of interest."When the Tribune Co. took over the Times in 2000, I wrote about the passing of the Chandler dynasty and its mixed legacy. I quoted Balzac — that behind every great fortune there is a crime, and that the greatly fortunate Chandlers stood accused of their criminal portion: vicious union-busting, water theft, political manipulation. Otis sent me a kind thank-you note.He was an imperfect hero, as even princes are. He abdicated the publisher's throne as a fairly young man, beset by family pressures and diverted by personal issues.As the paper suffered declines and setbacks, the Golden Age of Otis took on a deeper luster. One editor got so weary of reporters complaining that Otis would never have done this or that, he finally snapped, "Otis has gone surfing, and he's not coming back."But he did, once, in 1999, after the paper's new leaders cut a secret profit-sharing deal that had Times' journalists unwittingly writing pieces for a promotional advertising issue about Staples Center. It was the same kind of conflict of interest that had besmirched his forebears' reputations. Otis drafted a barbed rebuke to the "executives in the top two positions" whose "unbelievably stupid and unprofessional handling" had perpetrated a "scandal" and a "fiasco" that amounted to the "most serious threat" to The Times in his half-century of being "associated" with the paper. It was read aloud to the newsroom staff, and young reporters who had never so much as laid eyes on him cheered. Otis had left the building, but not the newspaper. His much-photocopied picture went up all over the newsroom. He was Shane and Frederick Barbarossa, rescuers come back to save us once more. His image is still here and there in the newsroom, and in one other place.Since Otis left, The Times has had seven publishers. But in the lobby, there are only four bronze busts of publishers: his great-grandfather's, his grandfather's, his father's and his own. There will be even more publishers, but not, I suspect, more bronzes. The last of the Chandlers broke the mold.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Return

Good news on the condiment front. Heinz Salsa (mild) has returned to Kiev’s store shelves after an absence of many years. Yes, I know that it is not true salsa and that is not the type of thing any self-respecting Texan or Mexican (or Tex-Mex) would place into their mouth but it is here, in Kiev, and reasonably priced.

Shuttle Traders Face Tough New Rules

Shuttle Traders Face Tough New Rules: "But a way will be found to get around the new system" Moscow pressures shuttle traders. Little new government revenue will be produced, new avenues to avoid import fees will be created, new bribes will be paid. Notice no new oversight of customs officials.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Kyiv Post opens it doors

The Kyiv Post appears to have opened it web-content. The old law that says “information wants to be free” is still true. Real knowledge you can charge for, but information wants to be free. Often the Post is full of information but without much knowledge. One blog that is full of knowledge is Neeka's Backlog. On a daily basis it is full of knowledge. Her piece on the tendency of Ukrainian baby doctors to prescribe things like Pavlik Harness for dysphasia, apparently for income related purposes is something I can relate to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

JotSpot: enterprise and personal wiki hosting and free wiki software trial. Get a hosted wiki, no need to download wiki software.

I have seen the future of SME systems, and it appears to be a lot like Jotspot. Simple, inexpensive systems that are adaptable yet offer a wide range of services. From collaboration services, project management, help desks, and forums, all under one service in a simple easy to use format.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Commercial Rents and Scams

The Kyiv Post this week has two pieces of information on the Kyiv real estate marketplace. First is a table listing rental charges for commercial properties in Kyiv along with similar properties in various other Eastern European cities.  In all cases, Kyiv rental fees are much higher that other cities in the region. My understanding of the situation is that it is a matter of a lack of supply coupled with a growing demand for commercial real estate. So, why the lack of supply? Certainly, the apparent financial return on Kyiv real estate is high enough to encourage a great deal of development.  Perhaps the second article in the Post points towards the answer.

On the front page of the Post is an article concerning the real estate scam of the firm “Elite-Center.”  Pushing aside the financial details in the article, what is interesting is the role of the city’s government controlling function within the scam. Not only was the company in the center of the scam not officially registered but a least one of its buildings, while being built as apartments, was approved to be a office building. This is the type of change that the city’s building authorities should be atop of. Certainly, the city’s building authorities have a reputation of being very interested in new development. The Post article, by John Marone, suggests that the city officials might be complicit to the alleged scam. The article itself does not give enough evidence to support this assertion but certainty the history of Kyiv development would suggest that there is a complex web.  

The two articles are tied together by the complex, non-transparent nature of Kyivs development. How soon do we get to the place where real estate signs listing lots for sale or lease are common in the city? One last note, the profits for such high commercial rates do not got to the owners or developers of the properties, but to hidden people who have the ability to control development in the city.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Real Estate scams in Kyiv.

news | kyiv: real estate scam organizer flees country :.: 5 канал :.: Перший Iнформацiйний Канал України

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Three Little Ukrainian Pigs

The Three Little Ukrainian Pigs

There once were three little pigs that lived not far from Poltava. They had happy lives and had wonderful adventures. The state farm they lived on granted them three separate plots of lands to build dachas on. The first pig, Taras, built his dacha with straw. It was a fine dacha with a nice garden in the back. Of course it did not have running water but no other dacha did so it was OK. The second pig, Volva, having access to the state farm’s lumber supply, built his dacha with wood. It was a fine dacha with two stories. The third pig, Petro, built his dacha out of bricks. Petro has a party member and so had access to bricks. Again, it was a fine dacha with a nice wall around it. The wall was to hide the things that Petro had from his fellow dachniks (dachniks are people who live in dachas). They lived nice lives and always felt happy.

One day a wolf appeared. He was a typical wolf, a capitalist, and of course, living in Ukraine, he loved salo. The wolf came upon Taras’s dacha made of straw and thought, “Here is some good eating." The wolf knocked on the door and called out “Please Pon Pig, could you open the door and provide me with some varenikey." Taras, being a smart pig, said “Ne Ne." Actually he said, “Het, Het," Taras spoke Russian. The wolf thought, “This might be harder than I thought." The wolf next decided to blow the dacha down with his strong capitalist breath. So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the dacha downed. Taras the pig had ran out the back and escaped the terrible wolf. This annoyed the wolf but he saw the opportunity for greater gain and so he chased after Taras.

Taras came to Volva’s dacha. Volva was busy making samahaon. Taras told Volva all about the terrible wolf and they both locked all of the doors and windows. When the wolf came upon the wooden dacha he thought, “This is very good, I can see progress." The wolf once again called out, “Greetings Pon Pigs, please could you kindly give me some borscht." The two pigs, being smart pigs and Young Pioneers, were well prepared for this and replied “No one is here." The wolf then called out “I will huff and I will puff and I will blow your dacha down," and of course he did. The two pigs ran off one more time, leaving the wolf behind. This really annoyed the wolf and so he chased them once again.

Taras and Volva ran to Petro’s dacha. They knew it was a well-built dacha, having been built with East German building supplies. Petro was busy studying the writings of Lenin. He knew that communist times were in the past, but he hoped that perhaps they might return and he wanted to stay prepared. The two pigs quickly informed Petro about the terrible wolf and they all worked together to defend the dacha. The wolf appeared and this time he was mad. He called out “Come out Pon Piggies or I will huff and I will puff and I will blow your dacha down” and he did so. Actually, he blew the door down, it was a Russian lock, and went inside to find the three pigs and he ate them.

This being Ukraine and the love of salo is strong.