Thursday, February 22, 2007
A week ago, there were about 200 comments on Yuri Zushchik's post on corruption at the National Bank of Ukraine (including an irrelevant but lively discussion of IKEA - which is yet to open in Kyiv, by the way). Today, there are 320 comments, and the following exchange (RUS, UKR) stands out in particular:
ElCooper: I'm head of a department at the National Bank of Ukraine, with 12 years of experience. Does it mean I'm a "midlevel employee" - or do you determine "midlevel-ness" in some other way? Well, okay, let's assume I am a midleveller.
In all these years, I've received no apartments [...]. Neither I, nor anyone I know can buy collectible coins, gold bars and other valuables.
With loans, the situation is this. Yes, we do get benefits on loans. From 4 to 7 percent, for 2-5 years, for household needs. We have to point out what the money will be spent on and provide papers showing where the money went.
Loans to buy apartments, for 25 years, are given to people awaiting their turn, and the amount they get depends on the common fund (which is far from being limitless), with income tax payments. Some people may have gotten into this queue, I suspect, by cheating, in a rather Soviet way, on the organs that carry out registration. What does the National Bank as an organization have to do with this?
And, as state employees, we are not allowed to take loans at other banks (not just to buy an apartment, but for everything else).
So. You, Mr. Journalist, are lying and hurting me and others like me. Let's make a bet. We get in touch and meet up in real life. You search for the things I've stolen. If you find anything, it's yours. If not, you're getting a kick in the ass in public. Will this work for you?
If you want to do an objective story, don't listen to untrustworthy acquaintances, talk directly to the people who work here.
ykhm: [...] For some reason, I do believe you. But you should agree that in general the author is correct - the problem with bribes is indeed very serious here. At least, for those who don't know how to give them. [...] It squeaks a lot if you don't pour some oil over it, and those who never cheat, sit in the back. Me, I'm morally prepared to give a bribe. [...]
ElCooper: [...] Thank you. But the author wasn't writing about bribes. In a way, he was writing about the system: "How they steal at the National Bank." Average people like myself. From you, as someone who pays taxes to support me. So of course, it offends me. It's not fair towards me and people like me. And towards the National Bank as a whole, because I'm sure that things are going much better here than in the state sector in general (though I can speak about problems at length - I do have experience). Also, it's wrong to think that the National Bank is run on state money. We are self-sufficient and what remains gets transferred to the state budget. But the author must've been too busy to ask about this...
Yuri Zushchik: [...] Thank you for the angry letter - it means that I haven't missed the target. Here's my response:
1. The official in question was lower in rank that the deputy head of the National Bank, but higher up than you are. I don't have the right to be more specific, to prevent revealing his identity - there are circumstances that do not allow me to let it happen.
2. You cannot be considered a midlevel emloyee if you are not entitled to make decisions on the money flow (if you don't sign relevant documents).
3. Be careful when you declare that you're corruption-free. Even using office paper for your personal needs is considered theft. And here, even bus ticket vendors are corrupted, and journalists, too. And even more so are midlevel employees. And I'm grateful to [another commenter] for pointing out that thieves register what they've stolen on their relatives. I have a friend who wanted to register some real estate in my name (!). He trusts me, of course, but he probably ran out of relatives, too.
4. I didn't mean you personally, but the system of benefits at the National Bank, which basically constitutes theft. And as for you, let the tax inspector deal with you - this isn't my jurisdiction.
5. I'm not a journalist here - it's a blog, not the magazine. And this is why I allow myself to step away from the journalistic standards, something that I don't do in my articles.
6. With the kick in the ass, don't rush - I can hit back, I've a difficult character. If you don't like something, find a civilized way to protest. You can sue me, if you want.
7. I agree with you on only one thing: Corruption at the National Bank isn't as bad as it is in other government institutions. So don't be offended but keep up the high standards - this is the path to self-respect.
And here are two comments that aren't really about corruption, but about something that makes life in the Ukrainian capital as annoying - the garbage:
yarka: [...] In our backyard (city center, rent is $1,300 [per month] for a 2-room apartment), the garbage hasn't been taken away for a week already! The pile is so huge that the bums are afraid to approach it - they may get buried underneath! [...] And the many Jeeps-Lexuses-et-cetera are patiently driving past this pile, even though in a day or two the exit from the backyard will be blocked solid. [...] The reason seems to be that the residetial maintenance office can't find a common language with the garbagemen. And as far as I know, this is happening all over the city!
Off-the-Record: [...] I don't understand it: are these Lexus-driving people not paying for their apartments? Why doesn't the maintenance office have money for the garbagemen? Or have these garbagemen just returned from the Oxford College of Ecology (where they got diplomas of garbagemen-environmentalists) and are demanding 5,000 euros a month, and this is where all these problems stem from? :)