Global Voices Online
Friday, February 16, 2007
Ukrainian journalist Yuri Zushchik spent this Valentine's Day in the company of his wife and her close friend, Sveta, who is dating a "mid-level employee" of the National Bank of Ukraine. On his blog at Korrespondent.net news site, Zushchik shares (RUS) what Sveta has revealed about the origins of her boyfriend's riches:
How they steal at the [National Bank]
[...] He and his children not only own two apartments near the city's center, as well as a country house, but he has recently been given a two-room apartment by [the Bank] - and it's his forever, of course. And a couple years ago, he took $120,000 as a no-interest loan for 40 years (!). The money stolen from the people, which will then be written off as inflation. And since this bastard already has an apartment, and not just one, he bought a jeep on this money. And he drives Sveta around the city in it.
Also, the National Bank's employees can buy coins made of precious metals at prime cost. Sveta's sweetheart sometimes presents them to her as gifts. If you buy gold bars and coins from the National Bank at prime cost and then resell them, the profit will be [rather good]. And again, all this at our expense. And please note that these benefits are for mid-level employees.
The post has generated nearly 200 comments, but they lack focus and are somewhat hard to follow: at some point, Zushchik's readers are comparing the latest James Bond movie to the previous ones, then they are discussing the fate of the Russian intelligentsia of the 19th century, and they also accuse Zushchik of gossiping and of being jealous with Sveta's boyfriend, and they argue about gender issues, and by the end the conversation has somehow veered off towards IKEA furniture.
Ukraine is the country with "the average nominal salary" of about 170 euros a month, and corruption is so widespread and taken for granted that discussing it probably seems a little futile. The first comment to Zushchik's post is about it, and there are a few more, but that's about it:
Nova3000: [...] I understand that the National Bank isn't the only example. Same things are taking place at any ministry. It's enough to just compare income declarations of state officials and the way they live (their apartments, cars, clothes, watches, etc.). Why is no one investigating this?
Bore_is: [...] If you gather all these stories in one pile, there'll be enough for a "Real Elite of Ukraine" encyclopedia volume.
Yuri_Zushchik: [...] Good idea. Only who's gonna fund [this encyclopedia]?
Colonel_Sartoris: Instead of blogging this, you could've conducted an investigation of how many [women] accompanied our main nationalist Ivchenko this New Year's and how much it cost our budget, or some other cases like this. And then bring this story to your editor and ask him to publish it in Korrespondent [magazine] - with photos, and the facts, etc. Could you pull it off? That would have been a constructive journalistic work. Not like writing whiny posts.
yarka: [...] And in Europe, where we so aspire to be, it's quite an honor to be a state employee. And this is why state officials there even drive bicycles sometimes. And the head of the World Bank wears socks with holes :) )))) [...]
Cynic: 2 yarka: Don't try to avoid answering, yarka, it's the traditional women's worldview that's to blame for the deep-rooted Ukrainian corruption. A man doesn't need much to be happy - a bottle of beer is enough. But you girls need jeeps to be happy, because it's not cool to ride subway.
yarka: Of course, it's the women who need everything - airplanes, Chechnya and Iraq. I personally need anti-missile defense and other junk. And without the new mobile miracle from Microsoft I'll just never feel happy, too :))) [...] If a man, as you say, needs nothing but beer, a woman needs a roof, a place to hide with her children :)) She needs food, to accumulate some fat, because without it she stops ovulating (this info is for those who love super-thin girls :))) Yes, we really do need a lot! And a man only needs a [Kalashnikov] and then he's off to conquer the world! :))