News / Economy

    Eastern Ukraine Oligarchs Seek to Avoid Economic Disaster

    Eastern Ukraine Oligarchs Seek to Avoid Economic Disasteri
    X
    Patrick Wells
    May 17, 2014 5:52 PM
    In a potentially seismic shift in the power dynamics of eastern Ukraine, industrial workers in Mariupol and other cities have risen up against armed separatists after business leaders claimed that secession would be economically disastrous for the region. But many separatists believe that the oligarchs are only looking out for their own interests. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol, Ukraine.
    VIDEO: Citing financial risks of secession, industrialists set up worker patrols to remove armed insurgents. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol, Ukraine.
    Patrick Wells
    Smoke billows from Azovstal steel works here, one of the many gargantuan industrial assets in this southeastern port city owned by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.
     
    Akhmetov employs more than 300,000 people across the region. This plant alone produces four million to five million tons of steel each year for markets around the world.
     
    But vital export markets in Europe and elsewhere would be cut off to local industry if the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic were to secede from Ukraine, a move supported in last week’s unofficial referenda there and in Luhansk. Only a handful of countries would recognize the two republics’ sovereignty.
     
    In a potentially seismic shift in the power dynamics of eastern Ukraine, business leaders — claiming that secession would be economically disastrous for the region — this week began mobilizing industrial workers to rise up against armed separatists here and in a handful of other cities.
     
    The workers have formed patrols, removing armed groups from checkpoints and occupied buildings around Mariupol. Some 100 groups are patrolling Mariupol, each consisting of six to eight workers and two policemen.
     
    On Friday, businessmen such as Akhmetov signed a memorandum with police, union leaders and some separatists, renouncing political violence and calling for armed groups to lay down their weapons. But on Friday night, the Ukrainian military still controlled access in and out of Mariupol.
      
    The workers recently forced separatists to abandon the Mariupol administration building. But as they patrolled before the cameras Friday, tensions were high.
     
    The directors of two steel plants owned by Akhmetov have been leading patrols themselves.
     
    Yuriy Zinchenko said it was important to take the separatists’ views into account, but not at the risk of jeopardizing jobs or the regional economy.  
     
    “All of us have good brains and we don't want to turn Donetsk into a war zone,” said Zinchenko, who heads Illich Steel Works. “All of us understand that this is just destruction. This is the road to nowhere.”
     
    Skeptical of motivations
     
    Many observers said they were skeptical of the patrols, suggesting the oligarchs are only looking out for their own interests.
     
    “Patrolling is a good thing, but you must understand, this is not a patrol, it is just a PR stunt from comrade Akhmetov,” said Aleksander Sukhovsky, an unemployed machinist. “Akhmetov is trying to show all of us that he is the real boss of the entire region.”
     
    Separatists who had met with the steel companies tried to win over the crowd, with mixed results.
     
    An unidentified separatist leader addressed the crowd, saying, “The sense of this memorandum is to request the authorities in Kyiv to pull their troops back from the borders of Mariupol and to dismantle the roadblocks."  
     
    “Don't lie to people, don't try to trick us,” a female observer shouted back in Russian.
     
    “Resign! Resign!" the crowd chanted to the separatist leader.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Martin Macdonald
    May 24, 2014 2:16 PM
    Capitalism saves the day. I'm not joking. Free market capitalism is the only condition proven to raise living standards for the bulk of the population.
    Let Ukrainians get to work and send the warriors and politicians back to their dens.
    The EU has shown that free trade is a huge disincentive to war. It is more profitable to trade with your neighbor than to invade. The US clearly demonstrated this, also, when after WW2 they turned enemies into prosperous friends. Russia chose to enslave the surrounding countries keeping the eastern bloc in rags. Capitalism is win-win. War and occupation is lose-lose.
    Free economies are wealthy, command economies are poor.
    But, Ukrainians must throw away crony capitalism and allow laissez-faire. Otherwise they will not improve their lives.
    In Response

    by: Jerzy from: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    May 25, 2014 2:23 AM
    "Let Ukrainians get to work and send the warriors and politicians back to their dens". They will get to work for sure. Except that it will not happen in Ukraine but in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, UK and the rest of the most prosperous countries in the EU. This a good news for Poland though. Why go there when they can steal from the richer members of the EU once they will get membership. Ukrainian Laissez faire, unfortunately" means theft and corruption and, considering how long they were being demoralized, (did they even ever have any morals?) will it take less than 100 years for them to become normal? I also sincerely hope that the "right factor" will not ever win an election. They have already started making territorial claims against Poland, the country that provides strong support for Ukraine even though her products are being banned from the Ukrainian territory. I believe there should be an international commission established to run Ukraine until they learn the meaning of the word "democracy".

    by: melwin from: India
    May 19, 2014 1:20 PM
    America just want Ukrainian uranium.

    by: Regula from: USA
    May 18, 2014 7:37 AM
    I think the unemployed Machinist is right: Akhmetov is engaging in PR for his profit. The industrial tycoons were appointed as governors - to make the rules most in favor of their business, not what is best for the people. Had he had any interest to solve the problem for both, himself and the people, he would have insisted with the government in Kiev that Ukraine needed to be federalized. That would leave the "separatists" inside Ukraine. The referendum only asked if people want independence. It left the question where that independence would be open. It can be either inside Ukraine, as a separate state or inside Russia. Which is ultimately chosen depends on the reasonability of the Kiev government. But Akhmetov was only concerned about his profits. The workers have no say and no rights. When laid off, they have no place to go and no genuine safety net to fall back on, while the tycoons are billionaires.

    The revolt of the protesters is very justified. They want a government that looks out for the people not just for the tycoons. Up to Kiev to have some insight. Ukraine needs to be federalized with elected governments in the regions not appointed tycoons tweaking the laws in their favor and against the people.
    In Response

    by: Daniel from: USA
    May 19, 2014 12:08 PM
    Let's keep things in perspective. This is a conflict created by geopolitical interests on two sides (Russia on one side, and the west on the other). Ukraine is sandwiched in this conflict, as it occured before with other countries. Russia is trying to survive and keep NATO away from its borders, while the west (NATO) is trying to surround Russia in order to gain strategical advantages. Strategical advantages are decisive in international politics, because the more unprotected a country is, the weaker its position will be in international politics.

    Russia is a huge territory, with a (still) powerful army and a lot of resources. For as long as it stays that way, Russia will always be seen by the west as a threat. It is in the interest of USA that no country becomes an hegemon. That is a prerogative of USA alone, and all efforts will be done to keep Russia from becoming one.

    by: Jonatan from: new york
    May 18, 2014 2:58 AM
    US Army and NATO must be drop out from ukraine to make better....

    by: Victoria from: Paris
    May 18, 2014 12:54 AM
    WE MUST PUNISH RUSSIA! IF WE WOULD NOT SACRIFICE SOME PERCENTAGE OF OUR TODAY 'S WELLBEING,TOMORROW WE WILL HAVE WAR!
    In Response

    by: vitaliy from: usa
    May 19, 2014 2:08 AM
    You do have war in Ukraine. What is Russia fault in that situation? It is so easy to start war, but it is so complicated to get pease.

    by: Baldu Dasche from: Monrovia
    May 17, 2014 11:14 PM
    A correspondent's report (Sydney Australia paper) from Mariupol to-day reported that the city was again under NO control after steelworkers 'removed' dissidents from occupied buildings. Like last week's National Guard foray into that town to destory the police station, the steelworkers apparently 'withdrew' after their 'work' was done.

    by: Phil Simon from: USA
    May 17, 2014 8:33 PM
    I have noticed that most of the separatist and radicals all seem to be unemployed bums looking to steal from the working class and get free hand-outs.
    Eg. " said Aleksander Sukhovsky, an unemployed machinist. “Akhmetov is trying to show all of us that he is the real boss of the entire region.”
    Throw all the bums out of Ukraine and give them to Putin.

    by: Dell Stator from: US
    May 17, 2014 6:31 PM
    Enlightened Greed can work
    Makes on nostalgic for the good old days in the US, when a factory owner might actually build housing (schools, parks, towns) for his workers (and not just to keep them in debt to him).
    Obviously an iron clad deal was finally agreed on between the billionaires who control 90% of the wealth, jobs, etc. in the Ukraine, ie, control the country, and the gov't..
    The billionaires stop pumping money into the militants (to create a situation where they can get more power), pay off the police to grow a pair, provide boots on the ground to replace all the police who proved to be Russian sleepers, and in return, the billionaires will get to loot, steal, and support their business from multi billion dollar slush funds to each province care of the central gov't (who will just borrow it, as the Ukraine already runs in the red, does not provide adequate gov't wages (leading to corruption), cannot fund policies to provide for the people, to create a free country or capitalist economy.)
    But it might literally buy the country another year or two for a real leader to emerge and lead them out of the darkness.
    In Response

    by: Popsiq from: Buganda
    May 17, 2014 11:22 PM
    Historical, but how appropriate? While at one time communities for business or industrial enterprise were a fairl;y notable aspect of tthe American experience (Amana, Hershey, etc) are there any still in existence?

    The current philosophy of 'greed' is far more 'self serving' in that working people, like capital materials, are seen as a part of the means of production - often without the 'value' attached to hardware - and as a prime focus of cost reduction.

    The current Ukraine situation seems based on fear - no job, no pension unless the workers get with the oligarch's program. ukraine is an economic basket case and a'good' job is probably noone could afford to lose. The subsistance coal mining 'industry is an indicator of how tough things there really are.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9017
    JPY
    USD
    104.72
    GBP
    USD
    0.7594
    CAD
    USD
    1.3160
    INR
    USD
    67.046

    Rates may not be current.