Friday, April 22, 2022

the last book I ever read (Serhy Yekelchyk's Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know, excerpt five)

from Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know by Serhy Yekelchyk:

When Yanukovych became president in 2010, he and his clan sought to restore Kuchma’s model of an oligarchic state. Its components included controlling the national media, helping the oligarchs to loot the country’s economy, and maintaining a political balance between Russia and the West without getting too close to either—all with the ultimate aim of enriching the ruling group’s families and allies. Ultimately, Yanukovych and his friends perfected Kuchma’s scheme—too much so—by pushing Ukraine practically into bankruptcy. State procurements became the preferred method of instant enrichment for all sides involved, because of massive kickbacks, inflated costs, and outright embezzlement. The officials and oligarchs close to Yanukovych particularly liked mammoth construction projects generously funded by the state. In preparation for the 2012 European soccer cup, the state funded so many new airports, stadiums, roads, and high-speed trains that there was no way to patch the huge hole left in the budget. Nobody was even trying to find a solution, because the government was hoping for a bailout from either the West or Russia. The Yanukovych administration assumed that both these geopolitical rivals would be happy to spend US $ 15 billion and possibly more for the privilege of having Ukraine in their sphere of influence.

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