President’s excess spending at expense of student grants and Shevchenko Prize
The civic network OPORA reports attempts to prevent its representative attending a crucial parliamentary budget committee meeting where money was taken from student grants and the State Shevchenko Award to cover President Yanukovych’s extra expenditure.
OPORA writes that the meeting on Oct. 9 demonstrated once again serious lack of openness and transparency. The attempts to hide the MPs’ actions from the network’s accredited parliamentary journalist were this time made by young men, apparently from the committee’s secretariat, though only one, Volodymyr Tovstak, was prepared to identify himself. They claimed that journalists had not been invited, that their attendance needed to be agreed with the chairperson, and added for good measure that there were no free seats. They then mentioned that the OPORA journalist had taped the previous meeting without the consent of the chair of the committee. OPORA notes that the illegal attempts to obstruct journalists continued even after the meeting began.
The attempts could, OPORA states, be interpreted as efforts by the MPs to conceal certain decisions.
The MPs supported a decision to allocate additional spending for the upkeep of the president’s residence in Sinegora and to cover Yanukovych’s unscheduled expenses in the Crimea. The amount involved is 747 thousand UAH which will be taken from the Shevchenko Prize and student grants for undergraduates at an institute for strategic research. The Taras Shevchenko National Award was initiated in 1961. It is one of the most prestigious honours in Ukraine and is awarded for a significant contribution to the development of culture and art.
Forbes.ua reported earlier (prior to being bought out by Serhiy Kyrylenko, a young oligarch with close links to those around Yanukovych) that 635 million UAH was allocated for work on the president’s residences.
The expenses included: 81.32 million UAH for work on the Carpathian residence Sinegora: for guest houses, restaurants, etc, and 94 million UAH for reconstruction work at the president’s summer residence in the Crimea, as well as work on nearby roads, etc.
As we see, this does not appear to have been enough.