Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ukraine's Last Chance - Bloomberg View

By Leonid Bershidsky

Now that Ukraine's electoral battles are over and the conflict in the country's eastern regions is frozen, one of three scenarios could unfold: Quick and painful economic and regulatory surgery, a slide into Russia's suffocating embrace, or chaos, as gangs of former volunteer fighters from the eastern war go on the rampage.

The window of opportunity for Ukraine to seize the first -- and best -- option is rapidly closing, but politicians squabbling over portfolios and bureaucrats who perpetuate the old corrupt system seem oblivious to the urgency. To a handful of outsiders who are pushing for rapid change, failure to act would be a tragedy.

One of these outsiders is Kakha Bendukidze, a former business tycoon who engineered Georgia's successful economic deregulation under then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. Bendukidze, along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Daron Acemoglu and other economic luminaries, belongs to an economic advisory group assembled by the Canadian government that was supposed to suggest reforms to the Ukrainian economics minister, Pavlo Sheremeta. The latter recently quit the government in frustration, and the advisory group is in limbo. Nonetheless, Bendukidze still spends a lot of time in Kiev trying to get his views across.

It's a frustrating experience, he said in an interview in the lobby of a Kiev hotel.

"The patient's head is coming off, and there is a bucket of blood next to the bed," Bendukidze said. "What are the relatives doing? They are vaguely worried about what the neighbors might think."

Complete story at - Ukraine's Last Chance - Bloomberg View

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