Monday, August 29, 2005

Ukraine's Jig-Saw

One of the ways of viewing the difference in Ukraine’s business climate pre and post the Orange Revolution is to see it as a very large, uncompleted jig-saw puzzle. In the days of Kuchma, there were thousands of pieces available to place on the table, but there were many more not quite visible. Every once in a while, on an irregular basis, more pieces were placed on the table and some pieces were taken off. It became apparent that some of the pieces were from another puzzle and would never fit into the final version. The completed picture of the puzzle on the puzzle box was clouded and not completely in focus.

The new Yushchenko version has far more of the puzzle pieces on the table and more people are actively placing the pieces into place. The final image of the puzzle is more in focus (but not universally agreed upon) and there is a chance of completing it.

Kyiv Weekly

Kyiv Weekly
A news source in English that I have forgotten about. Translated from Ukrainian, it is a broad news source that full of news and insight.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Wedding Party Viewing

Last Saturday afternoon was prime wedding party viewing time at Mariyinskiy Park. The park and the palace are central points on the Kyiv wedding trip circuit. The park offers the Mariyinksy Palace for photos along with two large fountains and a few Soviet memorials. The trend for stretch limos has continued. Currently, a bus for your wedding party is also seen as an important must have. A large portion of the square outside the Palace was covered by wedding party cars. There is a pecking order for wedding parties, those with the stretch limos seem to move to the front of the line for photos. Bridal fashion is still fairly traditional in Kyiv, although I did see a red wedding dress early in the spring. There is a growing bridal services market in the city and there must be an opportunity for an enterprising wedding organizer. There is a great willingness to spend money of weddings and brides are just starting to understand the possibilities for all out bridal spending.

The social anthropology aspects of wedding parties are the most fun. There is a great deal of social interaction going on and people are trying to put a very happy face on for the day. Often the most interesting groups are the family and friends of the bride and groom. They often are having a much better time the wedding couple.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Berdyanks a GoGo

Just got back from two weeks in Berdyansk.  There is a growing up-market resort sector in the area, with more beach front hotels/motels going up. The town and resort area (the split of sand the forms the main beach area) still needs to be cleaned up but the beach remains over 10 km of good sand and nice waves.

One of our twilight adventures was a visit to a closed Pioneer camp. It must have covered 5 hectares of land and was nicely situated on bayside of the sand-split. On some of the camp’s buildings were nice ceramic murals. One was of Lenin and another was of water sports. Any day now, the Pioneer camp will be bulldozed to build a new resort. The piece of land that it sits on is just too valuable. The buildings are in bad shape and probably cannot be remonted adequately. What leads to my interest, “What will happen to the art?”  Yes, it is of Lenin, but is there any movement in the country trying to preserve artworks that have fallen by the wayside?


This is from Bloomberg, by way of the Action Ukraine Report (AUR). The impact of the breaking down of the former Ukrainian government's practices shows the impact of corruption on the economy. Here are some excepts:

"All of the tax rates are exactly the same, yet the revenue received is 1
1/2 times greater,'' Timoshenko, 44, said yesterday in an interview in Kiev.
"This is simply the legalization of the economy, the legalization of

"We have radically reduced the amount of smuggling in Ukraine,'' Timoshenko
said. ``As a result, we have increased by at least 2 1/2 times the budget's
revenue from import duties, without any sort of tariff increase -- the
reverse is the case, some tariffs were reduced.''

The government discovered 5 billion hryvnia ($1 billion) were paid out last
year as rebates on value-added taxation rebates that were based on
fictitious exports, calling into question the 2004 figures for GDP and the
trade balance, Timoshenko said.

"Our entire wholesale market had been set up through state finances, and it
was a clearly corrupt system, there was a whole row of middlemen,''
Timoshenko said. ``Now that we have cleaned this all up and are holding
open tenders for every order, for the first time ever in Ukraine, we have a
15 percent decline in wholesale trade: Is this a negative or a positive

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cabinet to revoke resolutions inhibiting entrepreneurship.

FirsTnews / Articles

More positve movements by the government to break down barriers to small business. The exact nature of these regulations is not discussed.