23 January 2010

Winter in Ukraine

It may look beautiful to some people, but Ukraine in winter is COLD.
Maybe sometimes too cold for western europeans who live here.
Right now its -20 C degrees outside and with the wind chill factor its about -28 degrees.
Thats just in Kyiv. Outside the city in the 'Real Ukraine', its even colder.

The Kyiv city council haven't organised the clearing of snow and ice from the streets and pavements as they have done in previous years. Even walking along the main streets in Kyiv is dangerous. The easiest way to spot foreigners in winter, is just to catch a glipse of those falling over on the pavements. Ukrainians learn how to walk quickly along the streets at an early age, unlike we westerners who have never really understood how to stay up right in winter.

Ukraine - Presidential Election 2010

Well, the first round of the Presidential elections is over with the results as follows:
Victor Yanukovych = 35%, Yulia Tymoshenko = 25%, Sergey Tygipko = 13%, Arseniy Yatsenyuk = 7% and Victor Yushenko (Current President) just 5.45%
Turnout was 67%.

Compared to the Orange Revolution of 2004, these elections were very boring. But things have changed much since 2004/5. The Orange 'Revolution" is now dead and gone. The constant disputes between Prime Minister Tymoshemko and President Yushenko lasted far too long and the population had got tired of the political 'circus' in Ukraine.

So, the second round of the election will take place on 7 February between Yanukovych and Tymoshemko. Whats interesting is that 3rd and 4th placed candidates, Tygipko and Yatsenyuk coul dhold the balance of power. Both the candidates in the second round willbe trying to win over the supports from the 3rd and 4th candidates. Tymoshenko has already offered the job of Prime Minister to Sergey Tygipko, but he claims to be waiting for the results before he accepts any offers.

I think the situation will get very intense between now and 7th February.
But, in my current state of negative opinion, I dont think much will change in Ukraine no matter who wins the election. The country is in bad shape and this year will be another hard year for business in Ukraine. The boom years are over.

But thinking positively. The country still offers opportunities. Western European based businesess can still look towards Ukraine as a low cost economy for production purposes.
We just need to persuade more investors to look at Ukraine more seriously.

16 January 2010

Forward into 2010

Well, the BBCU Christmas party on 17 December at Nirvana Indian Restaurant in Kyiv was a great party. Good food, good wine, entertainment including dancers, a magician and a suprise performance from local band Gorchitska helped the evening along. We also raised UAH 4000 for our childrens charity as a result of the raffle.

Next morning I was off to the UK. Since my spell in hospital, I have still not touched any alcoholic drinks and actually feel much healthier. Maybe I will stay on this 'healthy living' regime as long as I can.

At Kyiv Borispol airport, the flight was delayed for one hour, as it was reported that 'severe weather' conditions were causing a problem at our destination airport - Gatwick, UK!!!!!!.
The severe weather turns out to be -1 degrees after some snow had fallen across most of England the previous night. As usual UK airports and the rest of the country were unprepared for 'Siberian weather conditions'. It never ceases to amaze me and many other expats, how the UK comes to a halt when faced with a little bit of snow and weather which in Kyiv would be considered a 'heat wave' in winter.

Taking off from Kyiv it was 'only' -15 degrees and the airport was operating as normal.
Arrived at Gatwick. Between Gatwick, London and North Notinghamshire, I could not help but think how England really does feel 'crowded'.
My daughters met me at the train station. My eldest daughter, Jade is now a proud car owner and driver (although still a student). Couldn't help but think, that one minute you are holding them in your arms as a baby and then a short time later they're driving you around in their own car. Yes, I am getting old.

Caught up on the few things I miss about not living in the UK. Good newspapers, cheddar cheese and a full English breakfasts.

Then off on holiday. Need to recover from the pneumonia.