News / Europe

    Ukrainian President Marks 100 Days in Office

    Peter Fedynsky

    Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has marked 100 days in office, outlining an ambitious vision of his country's future, but amid opposition concerns he is limiting civil liberties and surrendering national sovereignty to Russia.  Mr. Yanukovych spoke to the nation on his 99th day as president and followed up on the 100th day with a news conference in Kyiv.

    Speaking at a news conference in Kyiv, President Yanukovych said he inherited a ruined economy when he took office in February.  He said he is seeking passage of laws to encourage economic development and investments, and is fighting red tape that often stands in their way.  

    Mr. Yanukovych says Ukraine began the year with a 12 percent budget deficit and adopted a new budget that reduced the shortage to 5.6 percent.

    Mr. Yanukovych says there are signs of renewed economic activity, an increase of nearly five percent in Ukraine's gross domestic product and nearly 13 percent higher industrial production.  Mr. Yanukovych boasts of a 31 percent greater export volume, and an import increase of nearly 8 percent, giving his country a positive trade balance of $2 billion.

    But critics say the budget shortfall has been reduced by printing money.  Oleh Soskin, Director of Ukraine's Society Transformation Institute, says the cash supply in April alone rose by nearly $500 million worth of hrynvas, the national currency.  Soskin also rejects Mr. Yanukovich's claim that Ukraine will benefit from lower gas prices the president negotiated with Moscow in exchange for extending the lease of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

    Soskin says reducing the price from $305 per 1,000 cubic meters to $236 is meaningless; it's like telling a person he or she will be held underwater without air for 15 minutes instead of 20.  Either way, says Soskin, you'll die.

    Soskin agrees with opposition charges that the fleet agreement extended Ukraine's status as a Russian colony and undermined the country's geo-strategic position for the benefit of those who financed Mr. Yanukovych's presidential campaign -- industrial oligarchs who use a lot of natural gas.  

    The president, however, said Thursday evening that oligarchs will stand in line with everyone else in society, and that the days of runaway capitalism in Ukraine ended on election day.  

    Mr. Yanukovych's position regarding Russia is that Ukrainians must reject clichéd notions of East and West to ensure what he called a development perimeter that includes close ties with the EU, the United States, China, Brazil, India and others.

    On human rights, Mr. Yanukovych said it is time to substantially broaden the activities of Ukrainian civil society, adding that a strong government should have strong opposition.

    He says his political reforms will devote much attention to increasing opposition rights, building institutions for multilateral political dialogue, establishing tolerance and leading Ukraine away from a state where everyone fights everybody.

    However, human rights activists dismiss the statement, claiming the Yanukovych administration is limiting the right to free assembly.  The activists note there have been numerous pro-Yanukovych rallies, but those against him have been prohibited in various cities.  This includes one in Kyiv outside the building where he gave Thursday's speech.  

    The director of the Ukrainian Public Policy Institute, Viktor Chumak, told VOA that Mr. Yanukovych cannot claim ignorance, because TV news programs have shown police dispersing several rallies against him.

    Chumak says the president can see on television how the civic dialogue is actually being conducted between members of civil society and police.  The analyst says Mr. Yanukovych can also draw certain conclusions and ask the interior minister about them.

    Journalists covering Mr. Yanukovych's news conference told him Ukrainian media has faced growing censorship during the past 100 days.  He promised security services and the interior ministry would investigate the charges.

    Mr. Yanukovych says he also intends to create an independent judiciary, reduce poverty, introduce innovation technologies, lower green house gas emissions, reform agriculture and to turn Ukraine into one of the world's 20 leading economies.  Analyst Oleh Soskin says Soviet leaders made similar promises that amounted to little more than words.  Viktor Chumak says the president's vision represents an ambitious and necessary set of goals.

    Chumak says it would be much better if Mr. Yanukovych set priorities, a time frame, and benchmarks rather than compiling a list of needed reforms.  The analyst agrees they are necessary, but so are appropriate resources.  Chumak says the top priorities must be the fight against corruption and judicial reform.

    President Yanukovych says his first steps in office were aimed at establishing the foundation for reforms to be followed by construction of the building itself.  He notes it must have clean windows representing free speech so that Ukrainians can see the whole world and the whole world can see them.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.