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“Unbelievable! Our Government kills its citizens, while Americans help us to survive.”


This is an actual quote in a very recent note from my friend and colleague in Eastern Ukraine. I had the good fortune to meet and live with these intelligent, gentle people in more peaceful times.
This is also the first time in my life I have been personally affected by such a human tragedy. My friend writes, “They have electricity and internet service, but no water, no work, no banks, no money, no regular source of food.” And, she talks of her two-year old frightened grandson who now knows the sound of bombs. In case you wonder, I am purposely not naming names and locations. We have worked out a complicated system to get them a little money, hence the headline.
Earlier I used the words, “more peaceful times.” I said that because Ukraine has been a country seeking a clear identity for some time. I’m not a politician or a historian but I will try my best at the facts as I know them, since the Western leaders appear to have forgotten them.

Ukrainian Economy

The Ukrainian economy is, and has been one of the poorest in the world, for quite some time. According to 2013 International Monetary Fund and World Bank data, the Ukraine ranks 112th in the world with GNP per capita income of $3,872, which is lower than such economic powerhouses as Algeria, East Timor, Belize, Tonga, Tualu and Paraguay. By contrast, the average PCI of the European Union countries to which Ukraine aspire to be a member has an average PCI of $34,060. (FYI: the U.S. ranks 9thwith a PCI of $53,001).
Because of my long-standing business track-record and my interest in using cross-cultural activities to enhance understanding, I have been exposed to numerous Ukrainian business plans prepared by companies and individuals seeking American investment capital. Frankly, they were so far away from being “business standard” that no Private Equity firm in their right mind would write out a check for $10 million + to this “new breed of Ukrainian entrepreneur.” In my humble opinion, the country has a lot of walking to do before they can run with the big boys.
Oh, by the way, the country also has no formal infrastructure to service business development or growth, and not one President, including the current one, Petro Poroshenko, has ever created and run a successful business (discussed below).

Ukrainian Politics

The first “elections” were held in 1991. The country has had five presidents, including the incumbent of convenience, Mr. Poroshenko. Each President has “been elected.” A few served full terms, others forced out by the promise of a better future. Three have been classified as “Independent” and two as “Non-Partisan.” Some wanted greater ties to Europe, some wanted greater ties to Russia/China (Russia CPI rank #51 at $14,591; China (CPI rank #84 at $6,807). In the end, all have failed miserably at unification and prosperity, all have been accused of one form of corruption or another. None have been re-elected, some never completed a full term and some were ousted before their term expired.

As for the current President, the highly respected Center for Global Research summarized Mr. Poroshenko’s record as follows “He built his initial fortune by laundering the money of many Soviet times administrators. During his controversial career he has been accused of embezzling budget allocations, income tax evasion, illegally acquiring numerous corporate shares, and physically threatening political opponents. He has never started a business of his own, preferring to make money out of thin air, and his father was convicted of large scale theft in 1986.”

And So…

Who knows maybe lightning will finally strike, and all will be well. The Ukraines will get a barrel of low- cost financial aid from the European Union, expand their economy, start profitable new businesses, follow America’s urging to become a model of social democracy, and build an infrastructure that services the needs of all its citizens; the 70% majority in the West, and the minority 30% minority in the East.
And, who knows, maybe Ukraine will repay their new debt rather than default like Greece. And who knows maybe the Ukrainian government who seized power in what I term a “democratic coup,” will work as hard at finding a diplomatic solution to their internal crisis as they do sucking up to their American and European counterparts.

Personally, I’m betting on the 1-10 Oakland Raiders to win the Super Bowl this year. The odds feel a bit better.

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DATE: Nov.23.2014 | CATEGORY: Archived