Poroshenko’s fairy tales were published in New-York
The “Maidan” President spoke to the United Nations General Assembly about victory over poverty, tuberculosis and “Russian aggression”
The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, in the framework of the UN General Assembly addressed the summit on sustainable development goals. The speech of the leader of “Maidan” was so detached from reality that the head of the Russian delegation, Vitaly Churkin, who was present in the hall, even left the room. One can understand Russia’s permanent representative to the UN—instead of the declared theme of the summit, “Russian aggression” and “war with Russia” resounded after every other of Poroshenko’s words. Also, the fact that the Ukrainian President spoke about the economy and development in his country caused nothing but surprise.
The only thing that saved the President of Ukraine from international embarrassment was that his speech aroused no interest in any major Western media. Responses in the press and on television to Poroshenko’s speech were minimal. Otherwise, even Western journalists would have been forced to point out the striking discrepancy between Poroshenko’s words and harsh Ukrainian reality.
Speaking of success, the owner of Roshen factories presented some truly fantastic data. “I would like to emphasise that we have managed to: cut the poverty level by a factor of three (however, due to the Russian aggression, we expect these figures to drop); improve the maternal health care system; nearly halve child deaths; reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS; make progress in the fight against tuberculosis,” declared Poroshenko at the UN.
It sounded great, only the actual figures contradict almost every word. At the end of April 2015 the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Natalia Yaresko admitted that over the last two years the level of poverty in Ukraine had grown by 30%, while real incomes of the population had declined by 10%. According to opinion polls, 75% of Ukrainians evaluate their financial situation as being below average. The Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development estimated that GDP declined by 16.3% in the first half of 2015.
What poverty reduction was Poroshenko talking about? If one looks closely, the Ukrainian President was not completely cheating. Simply giving details about the “brilliant success” of Ukraine, he was talking about progress over the last 15 years. During the “independence” years of 2000 to 2013, Ukraine actually succeeded in reducing the poverty rate from 71.2% to 22.1%. However, from 2013 to mid-2015, this indicator plummeted to 33%.
The same can be said in regards to other examples given by Poroshenko. Since 2000, the mortality rate in Ukraine had steadily declined. But in the period from July 2014 to July 2015, according to the Ukrainian State Statistics Bureau, the mortality rate increased by 14.7%. The population compared to last year decreased by 164,800 people. And all this without taking into account the Donbass, which is not under Kiev’s control.
Poroshenko’s words regarding the fight against AIDS and tuberculosis sounded particularly cynical. Since 2005 the rate of spread of HIV has slowed down and, in 2012, for the first time in the history of Ukraine, began to decline: the rate of spread was lower than it had been in 2011. However, in 2013-2014 due to cuts in programmes to fight AIDS, the rate began to grow again at epidemic pace, according to the charity fund “Anti-AIDS”. Thus, in February 2013 there were 1,815 new cases of infection whereas in February 2014 there were already 1,968 new cases.
With regard to tuberculosis, an epidemic of this disease has been continuing in Ukraine since 1995. But, if in 2000 the statistics of morbidity and mortality started to improve, now the situation is again disturbing. According to the Chief of the State Epidemiology Services in the Dnepropetrovsk region, Andrei Kondratyev, the country, in the last two years, is experiencing huge problems with vaccines against the disease. In particular, the Dnepropetrovsk region received only 5-10% of the required amount of BCG vaccines, as supplies from Russia were interrupted. We may recall that recently, the first time in many years, cases of polio were recorded among children in Ukraine.
It turns out that the “dictatorial” regimes of Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yanukovych witnessed all the successes mentioned by Poroshenko, while the new “democratic” government produced a catastrophic decline in the major indices.
However, Poroshenko has a universal answer to all the questions—blame “Russian aggression”. According to the Ukrainian president, every day of the “war” (still undeclared) costs $5 million to the budget. Why the Ukrainian authorities did not simply stop the war against their own people, the “Maidan” President did not say.
“Poroshenko purposely arranged it in such a way that he spoke just before the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,” said political scientist, Alexander Dudchak PhD. “With regard to poverty reduction by a factor of three, Poroshenko can claim it only to those who have not lived in or visited the Ukraine in the last year or two. Because, otherwise, the difference between ‘before and after’ is obvious to anyone.
“How could poverty be reduced as wages and pensions were frozen while prices of absolutely everything have risen several times? Tariffs on some of the utilities have increased by order. The exchange rate of the national currency fell three times. Well, Poroshenko immediately per tradition wrote off all the problems on Russia. According to him, everything has been wonderful, but ‘Russian aggression’ did not let it show. ‘Here we had an improvement, but it is no longer valid because of Russia; we are not to blame if you did not notice’. Such tricks make him better than David Copperfield.
“With regard to the reduction in child mortality, Poroshenko, apparently, did not include the statistics of children who died in the Donbass, which he no longer considered as a part of Ukraine. Then he should have said frankly that he did not consider the Donbass as his territory. But even if we take just Kiev-controlled territory, what kind of child mortality reduction can be discussed, if in Dnepropetrovsk region alone neonatal deaths increased by 60% due to the fact that many maternity hospitals were closed as a result of the ‘reforms’? As a result, ambulances have to transport pregnant women over many kilometres. Some of them do not reach hospitals in time.
“Poroshenko has his figures, roughly speaking, from the ceiling. But the United Nations can take them as true simply because no one will verify them. One can say anything from the rostrum of the United Nations, no one will publish a refutation and argue with him.”
SP: And how does the international community perceive these statements of Poroshenko’s?
“It is impossible to speak about the world community as something homogeneous. Even in many countries of the European Union and in the United States, the public is not united in its attitude to both the Ukrainian and Russian leadership. Poroshenko, speaking thus, was apparently counting on those who consider him “our son of a bitch”, like Senator McCain and others like him.
“But the Western establishment has slowly started changing its opinion. We saw that MPs of several European countries visited the Crimea. They can form their own impression of what is really happening. Such statements are unlikely to affect them.
“Poroshenko has no choice but to continue sticking to his line and to accuse Russia of aggression. Otherwise, he will have to justify the crimes he has committed. He should either resign and go to trial, or persist with his rhetoric. Naturally, he will choose the latter while someone else tolerates him. The USA is quietly listening to the nonsense Poroshenko talks from the UN tribune.
“There are quite a lot of inappropriate statements made in the UN. Some even repeatedly called for the bombing of sovereign states. But, if the UN acts contrary to the USA’s wishes, the views of this organization are simply ignored in Washington. So there is no need to consider the UN platform as a place from which one cannot talk nonsense. Sometimes it is allowed.”
SP: And does the population of Ukraine not see the contradictions in the words of their President?
“Unfortunately, no one asked the opinion of the Ukrainian people. This opinion is supposedly voiced by Ukrainian TV channels; and they differ among themselves only in some details. Being in an information vacuum and constantly hearing about Russian aggression, many people’s consciousness is drifting. There is a problem of cognitive dissonance, when a person resists for a long time to what he hears, but, in the end, agrees to accept it. At least in order not to experience any internal discomfort.
“The majority of the population in Ukraine silently nods in agreement and consents, because they have no choice. They either have to constantly be in conflict with themselves, swallowing Valerian from morning to evening, or suck it up and take it all for granted. I don’t think the people will protest. Even if they will come out, for example, when they have nothing to pay for communal services, Ukraine has well-developed technologies of repression of social consciousness like psychological and physical pressure on the most active.”
“Poroshenko can say anything at the UN, as it is perceived by the international community without much interest,” says Stanislav Bychok, a political analyst of the Commonwealth of Independent States Election Monitoring Organisation (CIS-EMO). “The main function of the Ukrainian conflict is deterrence of Russia. Therefore, Western politicians and media will not question the words of Poroshenko, whatever he might say. Even if he tells untruths or ascribes to himself the achievements of the previous regime that, ostensibly, was dictatorial.
“We should understand that Poroshenko’s words in the context of the UN amount to nothing. During his address everyone was just waiting for Putin’s speech and his meeting with Obama. Poroshenko’s speech in this context was needed to emphasise the negative role of Russia in the events in the Ukraine, to blame Moscow and to present himself as a democratic power, which overthrew the regime of Yanukovich and even achieved something.
“Thus, firstly, nobody takes Poroshenko seriously. Secondly, nobody calls his words into question. And thirdly, nobody considers them of any value or thinks they are worthy of discussion. It is clear that Poroshenko’s words will be seriously discussed only in two countries—Russia and Ukraine. The rest of the world will not create any news on this topic, submit a rebuttal or challenge them. In fact he can say anything, whatever he wants.”
SP: How did the representatives of the world community in the UN receive the words about “Russian aggression”?
“The world is now faced with a huge number of serious problems that are worth paying attention to. This includes the growth of the terrorist ‘Islamic State’* and, connected with this, the influx of migrants to Europe. On one hand, Western leaders understand that, without Russia, solving these problems is impossible. On the other hand, they are ready to commit anything to prevent Russia from expanding its influence, including in the post-Soviet space and in the Ukraine. That is why with one hand they invite Russia to fight together against Islamic terrorism and, with the other, they accuse Moscow of the same terrorism, not Islamic, but state terrorism, in relation to Ukraine.”
SP: And don’t they mind such a contradiction—how can you cooperate with someone accused of aggression?
“The fact is that there are experts and there are ‘experts’. There are experts in the West who understand the true state of affairs and even talk about it. There are also those who are specially trained to scoff at Russia, who will at any moment confirm the view set out by Poroshenko.
“The problem is not that there are no good experts in the West. They exist, but they are not always given an opportunity to speak on TV. A tribune is available to those who voice views favourable to the Western elites for the preparation of society for anti-Russian sanctions or similar actions. It is a matter of state policy, thanks to which we read and see sometimes very strange people who speak out and shape public opinion.”
*The “Islamic State” was recognised as a terrorist organisation by decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 29 December 2014; its activity on the territory of Russia is prohibited.