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UKRAINE


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 49,537 41,380 37,600 55
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 970 770 720 137
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Ukraine




Update No: 383 - (26/01/13)

In the latest annual World Audit Report, which assesses the level of democracy in the 150 nation states with a population over one million, Ukraine has slipped 39 places and now ranks 109. After raising hopes with the Orange Revolution in 2004 that Ukraine was becoming a more democratic country, the government has now reverted to a more Soviet style.

The backslide began when the Orange coalition between old political rivals Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovych started to fracture in the late 2000s. Yanukovych gained popularity and was elected Ukraine’s president in 2010, with Tymoshenko forced into the position of opposition leader.

In October 2011, Tymoshenko was handed a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted of exceeding her powers when she signed a 10-year gas deal with Russia in 2009 that the authorities say was not in Ukraine's interests. Hopes that Ukraine would become a democracy were crushed. The European Union postponed the consideration of entering into a deep trade agreement with Ukraine, fearing that Tymoshenko's imprisonment was politically motivated. Later, President Yanukovych appeared to start removing the threat from other political rivals too and on February 27 last year, former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko (a close political ally of Tymoshenko) was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzlement and abuse of office. He has consistently denied the charges against him.

Yanukovych is continuing to tighten his grip and his ruling Party of Regions won a narrow majority in a disputed general election on October 28. The opposition accused election officials of fraud in favour of Yanukovych's party and demanded a recount in 13 electoral districts. Election authorities offered to rerun the vote in five of the districts, but United Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk rejected that proposal, insisting on a recount. That request was not met and on November 5, around 1,500 people demonstrated outside the offices of the Central Electoral Commission. Leader of the Opposition Udar (Punch) party, world heavyweight champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko, said: "We are proposing that [President Yanukovych], as the guarantor of the constitution, join the [vote-counting] process, because he should guarantee the implementation of the law. If the law is not implemented, then why do we need such a guarantor? I'm sure, therefore, that along with an early parliamentary election, we will also hold a presidential election if he doesn't fulfil his presidential functions now."

Despite assertions from Prime Minister Mykola Azarov that the election results matched the expected outcome drawn from exit polls and pre-election surveys, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on Ukraine's government to listen to complaints voiced by the opposition. Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised what it said was the misuse of state money and resources and biased media coverage in the vote run-up, adding that democracy had taken a "step backward" since Yanukovych was elected in 2010. That assessment was shared by US officials and by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Ignoring the criticism, Yanukovych went on to keep most of his cronies around him, leading to a violent brawl between government supporters and opposition lawmakers during the inaugural session of the new parliament on December 12. The following day, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was reappointed for a second term. Azarov has been Ukraine's Prime Minister since Yanukovych came to power in 2010 and the news that his position was secure prompted acting First Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovsky to resign. She said that Azarov was "incapable of carrying out economic reforms" or of defending Ukraine's course for European integration. She's probably right. In 2011, the European Union froze a trade deal with Ukraine over concerns about the country's elections, judicial system, and the arrest of opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. A thaw in relations is unlikely to occur while Yanukovych pursues the kind of Soviet-style politics seen over the past two years.

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