6 months ago


2 No.23 APRIL 12, 2018

2 No.23 APRIL 12, 2018 DAY AFTER DAY WWW.DAY.KIEV.UA By Olha KHARCHENKO, The Day Our long-standing contributor, wellknown Russian caricaturist Viktor Bogorad, whose ironic-philosophical style is well-known and loved by many of our readers, won a new award in his native city of St. Petersburg. He became the winner in the category “For Contribution to the Development of Journalism” at the Golden Pen Competition. In addition, as noted by the publication, “prizes in this category usually go to leading authorities of St. Petersburg journalism, whose words and deeds have enjoyed general recognition in the professional milieu. However, this year’s prize did not go to a journalist.” In this connection, Bogorad’s colleague and friend Viacheslav Shilov wrote on Facebook: “We caricaturists have long tried to convey to the organizers of the competition that the caricature art deserves to be nominated, that this genre needs fortitude, courage, and honesty...” The Day contacted Bogorad to congratulate him and at the same time ask about his attitude to this award. After all, the contest can be said to be state-sponsored, and it recognized the caricaturist whose work, whether you want it or not, stands opposed to any government. “This is an award of the Union of Journalists of St. Petersburg, I emphasize. This is not a purely state award,” Bogorad clarified at once. “Of course, the Union of Journalists has a certain connection to this state, but still, it is an award of the Union of Journalists as an NGO. “I have won this award, but I treat it as a ‘long service distinction.’ It is so given that my first publication was in 1973, when the city was still called Leningrad, and almost all journalists know both me and my work. I was nominated for the Golden Pen Grand Prix in 2015 as well. Now, they decided to finally recognize my contribution to journalism with this prize. Of course, people delivered speeches there which made me say that I felt an elder, an Egyptian pyramid.” In our previous conversation, we talked about the success of the project Je Suis Dog, Je Suis Cat [I Am a Dog, I Am a Cat. Let us recall that this is an album of caricatures featuring pictures of dogs and cats side by side, which was financed by crowdfunding. – Author]. Do you already have new ideas, perchance? What book projects are you currently working on? “It was a very successful project. Myself and Shilov [co-author of the project. – Ed.] have got invited to go to a book fair in France next year with this project. That is, we will need to print more copies, because we have not a single one left. “A new book by Leonid Pesk, which I have designed, should come out soon. It is very interesting, and its title is And Where Is the Parachute Ring? This is a collection of ironic essays, featuring a symbiosis between verbal and visual text. That is, his text is verbal, and mine is visual. It is such a combination. A very interesting experiment. “And secondly, a philosophy-themed book from the series ‘ABC of Concepts,’ which is published by the European University in St. Petersburg, will be released this May. This will be the sixth book in the series, called ‘The State.’ It discusses what the state is in terms of philosophy, and offers a general approach to the very concept. Prior to this, there were books in the series on what democracy is, what authority is, what history is, and so on. This is a very interesting project, and I am happy to work for it. I translate these most philosophical notions into pictures.” The caricature art continues to be popular in the world media. Now, what is the place of genuine, propaganda-free caricature in the Russian cultural space? Is not your victory in the Golden Pen’s category a sign that its scope is expanding? “Overall, this is a very strange story. I am not a member of the Union of Journalists, I am not a member of the Union of Artists either. I am absolutely on my own. And this is a very important point. Despite this, yes, I have won a prize from the Union of Journalists, and last year I received an honorary academician degree from the Russian Academy of Arts. That too, as they say, is terribly weird, and surely so for me. As I now joke, I now have a reason to argue with the customer by citing my status as an authority. “Speaking frankly, I mock the state, and the state gives me prizes. And I think that both the state and I feel awkwardly when doing so.” And what can you say about the existence of the true caricature art now in general? As before, a large segment of it is, of course, propaganda, is not it? Does the ratio change? “You give them a slap, and they shake your hand...” Viktor BOGORAD discusses his new award and the current Russian authorities’ attitude to the caricature art “Big segment is made up of propaganda. Moreover, since caricatures related to propaganda are usually made by people of rather average talent, all attempts to unite it somehow, to create a magazine or something have failed, ending with money spent in vain. After all, in order to do a good caricature, one should not be a propagandist. And in order to get a successful project going, good caricatures are needed. This is incompatible. “Therefore, caricatures are very few in Russian publications today. They are, of course, present on the Internet. There are ones made for the RIA Novosti news agency, and they are propaganda. There is Sergey Elkin, who publishes his works on the Deutsche Welle’s website. There are good works that caricaturists do on the Internet. But in print media, caricatures are going extinct, or have gone already. I was asked recently: ‘Has someone caricatured our governor Georgy Poltavchenko?’ I proudly said: ‘Yes, I caricatured him five years ago, at the request of a newspaper which decided to expand its audience by commissioning it.’ It was kind enough. That is, ironic, but not vicious. And they printed it on the front page: here you go, we are the first to publish a caricature of our governor. Five years have passed, and nobody has printed anything like that again. That is, I made history five years ago, and so it remained. “As for everything else, I can only envy Ukraine. You have many very fine caricaturists. They get published a lot and it is great. This is what we had in the 1990s, after Boris Yeltsin was told that he should not be offended by caricatures of him, and everything was fine. “Now the editor will think twice before publishing some caricature, because some lunatic will believe that it offended their personal feelings, and will sue. And our government likes to overblow things, because low-ranking officials need to make a career out of something. That is, the caricature art has become a pretext to feel offended. You drew a policeman, therefore, you offended a policeman. If you drew a priest, it is even worse, as you offended all religious feelings. I do not understand at all why we cannot offend non-religious feelings of an atheist. Probably because an atheist is no longer seen as a human being. (Smiling.) But this attitude is weird: they say that the caricature does not laugh, does not ridicule. No, it offends. “I repeat, for me it is a strange moment that I get awards from semi-governmental bodies. It feels that I give them a slap, and they give me a prize for it, or shake my hand. It is some kind of masochism, of course.” Sketch by Viktor BOGORAD By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who heads the investigation into Russia’s interference in the latest US presidential election, has taken an interest in a donation made by Ukrainian businessman Viktor Pinchuk. This is stated in a piece published by the American newspaper The New York Times, reports Ukrinform. Pinchuk’s contribution has turned out to be the largest the Trump Foundation received in the whole of 2015 from any outside donor. “Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for an array of records about business with foreign nationals. In response, the company handed over documents about a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Viktor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance by Mr. Trump that month through a video link to a conference in Kyiv,” says the article. The payment from Pinchuk “is curious because it comes during a campaign and is from a foreigner and looks like an effort to buy influence,” the publication quoted a former head of one of the tax divisions overseeing tax-exempt organizations. He called the donation “an unusual amount of money for such a short speech.” Pinchuk is the son-in-law of a former president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, who was criticized for corruption, nepotism, and the murders of dissident journalists, the article clarifies. Pinchuk himself has been involved in illegally dumping steel on the US market at artificially low prices, and made multi-million contributions to the Clinton Foundation since 2006. We asked president of the Strategy XXI Center for Global Studies Mykhailo HON- CHAR: What does Pinchuk’s name appearing in Mueller’s investigation mean? “The American justice system has long been interested in individual Ukrainian oligarchs. The first person to be directly affected was Dmytro Firtash. We saw this long fight for extradition to the US, and even after the administration has changed, the demands have remained. Another such oligarch is Viktor Medvedchuk. Yes, he may be of lower caliber than Rinat Akhmetov, Pinchuk or Firtash, but he has also been in the sights for a long time and on the sanction list since 2014. I think the American administration noticed long ago that among those known as Ukrainian oligarchs, a number of them are only nominally such, as they are, so to say, only listed as resident here. In fact, they are in the orbit of the Kremlin. And through them, Russia exercises proxy influence both upon Ukraine and upon the West. Akhmetov, of course, is in this orbit. “In this case, Pinchuk stands out due to the fact that, unlike other oligarchs, he, besides remaining in the Kremlin’s orbit, is the most active one in the American direction. For example, his annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) provides for close interaction with the American political establishment. We know that every YES meeting is accompanied by arrival of Western high-ranking officials, with the event’s guests including the Clintons, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, et al. on many occasions. It is clear that this program was created in order to build up a certain political capital for his oligarchic empire, that is, to protect his interests. But, I think, not least, having such an extensive network of communications, someone in the Kremlin thought of it, or Pinchuk himself offered them to take advantage of his opportunities and services to address some issues in the US. Proceeding from this, one can assume that during the presidential campaign, eggs were put in different baskets, that is, contributions were made to various funds. Mostly to the Democrat fund, which has already been covered, but they also put a little into the Trump Foundation. This was done with the understanding that, of course, it would serve Pinchuk’s needs, and, possibly, in the event of some extreme situation, also the needs of someone in the Kremlin. “Let us remember one thing that we have already started to forget about. I mean Pinchuk’s opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, where he essentially suggested solving the

WWW.DAY.KIEV.UA DAY AFTER DAY No.23 APRIL 12, 2018 3 Prosecutor Mueller and his “deoligarchization” Mykhailo HONCHAR: “The American justice system has long been interested in individual Ukrainian oligarchs” Donbas problem by sacrificing Crimea. It was precisely an attempt to act as a servant of two masters. First of all, he aimed to serve his Kremlin master, but also to subsequently come to the aid of the Washington master who had some sympathy for Vladimir Putin. With this article, Pinchuk not only upped his profile, but also attracted additional attention. And one does not need to be a great political analyst to come to the conclusion that Pinchuk plays a game that is not in the national interest of Ukraine, but fits Russia’s interests in the post-Soviet space. Therefore, taking into account the proximity of the top layer of the Ukrainian oligarch class to the Kremlin, Mueller is ‘digging’ in this direction. And he has obtained some results. “Also, we must not forget that here we are talking about elegant forms of corruption as well, which at first glance do not look like corrupt acts at all. But it is our oligarch class who sees it that way. For example, Firtash is trying to prove through his lawyers in the US that he has not committed corrupt acts in the US, has no businesses in the States, and has not even visited that country much, but the American justice system still believes that it has grounds for bringing him to account. When acting through such methods, the Kremlin probably thinks that few people would pay attention to peripheral players from other countries. After all, the focus of Americans and Europeans’ involvement in the post-Soviet space has always been on Russia. In fact, we deal here with a network communication system in which the Kremlin acts as a puppet master. Often enough, it activates those tentacles which are far from the Russian orbit and are thus overlooked at first. But now people have started paying attention.” Recently, the US introduced new sanctions against Russian oligarchs and officials. Given the situation, can Ukrainian oligarchs also be affected? And in general, what are the likely consequences? “I do not think that this will have consequences for Ukraine as a nation, as a whole. But, of course, the image of Ukraine, which the Western establishment still sees as a corrupt oligarchic country, will not benefit from it. If certain things are found that will have serious consequences in terms of corruption or the pursuit of the interests of the Kremlin through one or another oligarch, such as Pinchuk, then of course, his firms may be subject to serious US sanctions. We already know that certain antidumping duties have been imposed, which are not directed specifically against Ukraine, but rather related to the general US policy of ensuring the growth of its own industry. And our oligarchs have suffered as well. But if it turns out that they crossed the line somewhere, the blow will be more powerful than they can imagine. Then they will spend a lot of money and time defending their interests in American courts. The Firtash story is a case in point. ROBERT MUELLER “In fact, Americans are still identifying Putin’s entourage. They have already hit members of his inner circle, both earlier and lately. Ukrainian oligarchs are not part of Putin’s inner circle, they are simply in the orbit and under the influence of the Kremlin. If we recall dirty gas trading schemes, or those in other industries, then Firtash, Pinchuk, and Akhmetov’s involvement will be visible at once... US presidents may change, but American institutions do not suffer from short memory. If any Ukrainian believes that something has been forgotten, they are wrong. They remember everything in the US.” You said that Pinchuk was active in the American direction. One can recall the most recent presidential campaign in the US, when our elite effectively bet on one of the candidates, namely Hillary Clinton. Does not it seem to you that Ukrainian foreign policy needs to be nationalized in order not to depend on one or another oligarch? “Of course, this is a danger to the country. So far, we have survived it with minimal losses, so to say. But, at the same time, one can observe how slow is the progress on delivering lethal weapons to Ukraine, even when the decision appears to have already been made. The outright support for the Democrats during elections is, firstly, unacceptable, and secondly, it brings some negative consequences for the country, especially when it is in a vulnerable state. Of course, we see privatization of foreign policy here. In a country with a corrupt state apparatus, where all actions are determined by the interests of oligarchic economy instead of the national interest, it turns out that oligarchs act as providers of services at least in strategic directions. Pinchuk is a shining example of it. Then we have to pay a price including defeats of our policy, image damage, and potential accusations, which we see, for example, in the Manafort case, where some figures attempt to channel the Trump Russian dossier investigation into one focused on domestic Ukrainian events. They claim it was Ukrainians, not Russians, who tried to interfere with the American election. This is precisely the reverse side of the medal when our foreign policy is outsourced, in this case, to the oligarch Pinchuk.” The article in The New York Times, by the way, emphasizes that Pinchuk is the son-in-law of former Ukrainian president Kuchma, who was widely criticized for corruption, nepotism, and the murders of journalists. “The mega project called the Yalta European Strategy is designed to create an illusion that the Ukrainian oligarch class, at least the portion represented by Pinchuk, is a Westernmodeled big business elite that can be a partner for the West, although in reality it is a corrupt, extortionary, and opaque business elite that parasitizes on the country’s residual technical resources. It can create an illusion in the West, showing that despite the fact that Ukraine is a corrupt country, there is allegedly a progressive oligarch faction, and Pinchuk is the first of them. It is with this in mind that Pinchuk has been investing money in similar projects, because both he and Kuchma have their own skeletons in the closet, and their activity can serve as a kind of shield or reason for granting an indulgence, an act of wide-ranging forgiveness. But this is also an illusion, because it is politicians who can be forgiven for many infractions, as was the case with Kuchma himself, when he was engulfed in the Gongadze case and Kolchuga scandal. In essence, what saved him, as Kuchma was forgiven for a lot of things, was Ukraine sending its soldiers to Iraq, which was in line with US interests. But if the American justice system takes a different view of it, then neither YES events nor Ukrainian lunches in Davos or Munich will help. Ukrainian oligarchs do not yet understand it.” By Natalia PUSHKARUK, Mykola SIRUK, The Day Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko paid a visit to Germany on April 10. Very recently, Angela Merkel was reelected chancellor for the fourth term, and a new government was appointed after the longest-ever coalition negotiations. The president’s website notes that Poroshenko is one of the first foreign leaders to visit Berlin after this political reshuffle. At the same time, this visit is also rather long-awaited on the part of Ukraine. Firstly, the latest Normandy-format meeting of the leaders of Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia to solve the problem of aggression in eastern Ukraine was last held July 2017, DW reports. Secondly, Berlin recently gave final permission to build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany, bypassing Ukraine. Thirdly, a plan of sending a UN peacekeeping mission to the Donbas is under discussion, and it is important for Kyiv to enlist Germany’s support in this question. The president pointed out at a joint briefing with Chancellor Merkel that they had discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine, the organization of a UN peacekeeping mission, and imposition of sanctions in case of a failure to observe the Minsk Agreements. According to President Poroshenko, Russia does not support so far the joint proposals of France, Germany, Ukraine, and the US about a peacekeeping mission “which will be not just an escort for OSCE observers but a full-fledged and full-scale force that can disarm illegal armed formations, protect people on the occupied territories, and create proper BERLIN and KYIV: making up for lost time Angela Merkel maintains that Nord Stream 2 is not possible without clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine security conditions in order to begin the political process of local elections,” but the sides are not losing hope to resolve this problem. As for the Nord Steam 2 project, the head of state only casually mentioned that this topic was also discussed. Yet when journalists asked Ms. Merkel whether the president convinced her that there is a political side to this project and whether Berlin is prepared to offer a compromise, she said this matter was discussed much in detail and she “listened to Ukrainian doubts very attentively.” “I also said to President Putin yesterday [on the phone]: it cannot be that, through Nord Stream 2, Ukraine has no further importance regarding the transit of gas,” she said. “Dependence on Russian gas will remain, but this is of strategic importance to Ukraine. I made it very clear that the Nord Stream 2 project is not possible without clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine.” ● “GERMANY SUPPORTS THE UKRAINIAN INITIATIVE” Stefan MEISTER, chairman, Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia: “I don’t think Germany will stop supporting Nord Stream 2 in spite of all conflicts with Russia over the Skripal case. Even the US is very cautiously criticizing Nord Stream 2 despite the leverage the government and the president have under the latest sensational law. I don’t believe that the project will be shelved in Europe – there can only be an essential deterioration of relations. Germany supports the Ukrainian initiative, especially now that a new Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has assumed office, for we can see that the minister is taking a tougher approach to Russia and is not talking about gradually lifting the sanctions. But German society is pressing for better relations with Russia, and decisionmakers were not satisfied with the way the Skripal case was handled.” How can Berlin react to Poroshenko’s initiative about stationing peacekeepers in the occupied territory of eastern Ukraine and does Merkel have levers to force Putin to carry out the Minsk Agreements? “Germany is not a UN Security Council member. It expresses support via the UN. It is a big question there. But, as Russia can impose a veto, it is difficult for Germany to speed up the process. But it supports this rhetorically.” ● “GERMANY IS PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CONTINUATION OF CURRENT EU SANCTIONS” Andreas UMLAND, German political scientist, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation: “Germany cannot directly influence a decision on the peacekeeping mission, for it is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Yet it is playing a major role in the continuation of current EU sanctions. Moreover, it will take part in funding the expensive peacekeeping mission and revamping the Donetsk region’s infrastructure. “What can pose a problem in German- Ukrainian relations in the future is implementation of the political clauses of the Minsk Agreements. Germany is likely to insist on a full implementation of the whole plan outlined in the Minsk Agreements. Ukraine should draw up a plan of how to respond to this challenge. “The only lever the EU has is the continuation of sanctions.”