This is a curated list of the biggest economic news of the past week in Ukraine.
Right in time for this week’s economic overview, the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament of Ukraine) decided to dismiss the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Dmytro Razumkov. With 284 votes for, he has now been fired following eight days of political infighting. Not everyone are as excited about this decision. Some fear, that this is a question of centralising the power over Ukraine in the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In general, Zelenskyy has been taking up quite a bit of space on the front pages in the past week, and rarely the stories have been the kind of stories, a president wants to deal with. First, his advisor the ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili decided to fly back to Georgia in time for the local elections taking place on October 2. Given that he has several sentences hanging over the head from when he was exiled, it didn’t surprise when he was arrested.
This gave Volodymyr Zelenskyy some headache. Not only is Mikheil Saakashvili an advisor, his nationality has been all over the place. To begin with, he was Soviet born, then a Georgian national. He lost that nationality and then became Ukrainian, but that was revoked, and after two years as a stateless person, Zelenskyy granted him Ukrainian citizenship again in 2019. This just makes Zelenskyys headache worse, because now it is not only one of his allies, it is also a citizen of Ukraine. Now, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine has promised to bring back Saakashvili.
A third, much larger, story also appeared this week. For months, 600 journalists from all around the word has been browsing through spreadsheet after spreadsheet following the leak of the so-called Pandora Papers. According to OCCRP, Shefir and other business partners used the network to buy expensive real estate in London. Zelenskyy, it seems, knew that this would be problematic, and in 2019 around election time, he handed over his shares in the company to Shefir. It looks like the two of them made an arrangement, where money from the offshore would still land in the pockets of Zelenskyy’s family.
Gas explosion (in prices)
Leaving Zelenskyy alone for a minute, the gas prices in Europe has been soaring. The prices exceeded 1000 USD per 1000 cubic meters, and in Ukraine it is believed that Russia is manipulating the prices.
Olha Stefanishyna, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister, told EUobserver.
“We can see what’s happening with the gas prices, which we treat as an incident of hybrid warfare, basically… the signal Russia is sending to European capitals is: ‘We’re really manipulating prices, so you should launch Nord Stream 2 to stabilize the prices’. This is a clear narrative for us,” said Stefanishyna, calling for the EU to put its foot down.
With heating season coming soon, expect cold flats all over Ukraine unless something is done to resolve the problem.
An expensive lockdown in sight
Today, the total number of new registered COVID 19 cases in Ukraine exceeded 15,000. With numbers like that, a new lockdown is in sight or at least very probable. Last time Ukraine had numbers like this – in spring – Ukraine went into strict quarantine measures. But a new lockdown will be very expensive for Ukraine, explains the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, NBU, Kyrylo Shevchenko.
“Although business processes are returning offline and vaccination rates are growing, the risks of introducing a new lockdown due to the spread of new strains of the virus remain significant. The assessment of the impact on GDP will depend on the format of quarantine restrictions. Depending on the severity of the possible measures, losses may be from 0.4% to 0.6%,” Shevchenko said in an interview.
More and more people are getting vaccinated, but the rate at which this is happening is still too slow to impact the overall situation in the country anytime soon.
A flying car!
In Kharkiv, not even the sky is the limit. Not even for taxis. Recently, the authorities in Kharkiv revealed how two Ukrainian companies named FED JSC and Zhukovsky “KHAI” are set to help create flying taxis with Swiss and Italian companies. The Kharkiv-based companies are supposed to have met with the Swiss company Sauber Engineering AG, which is in Formula One, among others.
“The joint development of Kharkiv scientists and industrialists is a taxi that flies. At the beginning stage, it works on electricity, in the future – on hydrogen. Absolutely in sync with the world and European trends of ecological and energy efficiency. Well, and of course – the fight against traffic jams on the roads,” wrote head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration Oleksandr Skakun on Facebook.
Things to do before lockdown
Instead of going crazy, trying to buy enough toilet paper and long life foods, there are more relaxing ways to spend the time between now and the possible future lockdown. Last Friday, we recommended going to see the three Churches on the edge of Podil: St. Andrews, St. Michaels and St. Sofiivska.
The three churches share the dramatic history of Ukraine, a bloody story that has it all: Family in-fighting among the Kyivan Rus princes, the invasion of the Golden Horde and the more recent occupation of Ukraine by Soviet Forces. For those completely uninterested in that kind of history, Ukraine Nu has other recommendations:
First of all, a must for all tourists and residents alike: Go visit Chernobyl, before it is too late. The buildings are slowly falling apart, and occasional wildfires has destroyed a lot of the smaller buildings and landmarks around the Exclusion Zone. It is high time to go see the area, in case Ukraine is not successful in their attempt to make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.