Leading Ukrainian Economist: Russia
Has Saved Ukraine 'For the Moment;'
Now Change the Entire Economic Model!
Dec. 22, 2013 (EIRNS)Economist and former Member of Parliament Dr. Natalia Vitrenko, head of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the new National Resistance Front against the Euro-colonization of Ukraine, held a webcast Dec. 19, entitled "Russia Has Saved Ukraine For the Moment!" It is the latest in a series of emergency webcasts Vitrenko has made since the furious British/EU/U.S. response to Ukraine's Nov. 21 decision not to sign a radical free-trade Association Agreement with the EU. In previous ones, she detailed the threat of a "neo-fascist coup" in Ukraine, backed by Brussels and Washington, and looked in depth at how the 1,200-page Association Agreement would have destroyed the Ukrainian economy, as well as aggravating a strategic showdown of the West against Russia.
First and foremost, Vitrenko contrasted the IMF's proffered terms for a new loan to Ukraine, 10 percent interest and devastating deregulation of domestic energy prices, with those of the Russian loan announced December 17 after the Russian- Ukrainian Intergovernmental Commission meeting in Moscow: $15 billion at 5 percent interest with no strings attached. Noting that the sum is equal to one-third of Ukraine's federal budget, Vitrenko said that the budget for 2014 could not have been passed without the Russian loan. Payments to pensioners and many state-sector workers and entities were threatened.
Even more important than the emergency loan, Vitrenko explained, are the several Russian-Ukrainian cooperation agreements that were signed, covering machine-building sectors such as the space industry, shipbuilding, and aircraft production. Projects such as the joint production of around 80 of the giant An-124 "Ruslan" transport planes, she explained, will involve a production and supply chain embracing several sectors of Ukrainian industry and saving tens if not hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. In her Dec. 13 webcast, Vitrenko had emphasized that at independence in 1991, Ukraine was one of the top ten machine-making countries in the world, but now had been targetted to become a "ghetto" of the EU under the aborted free-trade deal.
She also emphasized that such Russian credits and joint projects in industry compare favorably with the recent package of deals signed with China. In the case of Chinese investment in irrigation systems for agriculture and large-scale land leasing, she observed, repayment of the credits is denominated in grain shipments at current prices, which are thus locked in for a decade.
At the same time, Vitrenko said,
"I would not want to idealize the policies of the Azarov government and President Yanukovych," noting that the regressive VAT tax remains in place, no luxury taxes have been imposed that might annoy Ukraine's influential wealthy business layers, while pensions and the minimum wage are still based on a "subsistence minimum" defined as only 1,176 hryvnias ($143.00) per month. The Russian loan, she said, "saved Ukraine, but it is not the solution. What's needed is a change of the whole economic model."
To illustrate this idea, in the middle of the interview Vitrenko's colleague Vladimir Marchenko unfurled her Presidential campaign poster from 1999. (That year, Vitrenko was running at 32 percent in the polls and analysts believed she stood a good chance of defeating Leonid Kuchma in a run-off; but her campaign was destroyed in the wake of a grenade attack that injured the candidate and 40 others.)
The poster shows Vitrenko, pointing at a giant reproduction of Lyndon LaRouche's "Triple Curve" graphic, accompanied by quotations from her speeches on the absolute necessity for Ukraine to break with the IMF and lead other nations in that direction. She said that the poster reflects "the work of a whole international movement of people against the IMF, headed by Lyndon LaRouche, who is still doing this at his age of 92." Added Marchenko, "And he is a citizen of the USA, it should be pointed out!"
Vitrenko proceeded to give a ten-minute briefing on the significance of the triple curve and of changing financial policies in order to promote the real sector, rather than destroying it.