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It became symbolic of the absurdity of Yanukovych’s kleptocracy when it was seized by the February Revolutionaries at his Mezhigorye residence.

golden-loaf

But now, it is nowhere to be found.

“In effect, it was stolen. But by whom? I have a list of objects that weren’t even confiscated. They were shown only on TV. Two months I spent sending requests [to the General Prosecutor], asking whether these objects were registered, and so forth, and we were given answers. Who is going to answer for this?” commented Dmitry Dobrodomov, an MP who took it upon himself to find out the fate of the golden loaf and the other icons, rare coins, automobiles, and other expensive goods found – and since vanished – from Mezhigorye.

And so the golden loaf continues to be symbolic – now, of the utter inability of the Poroshenko regime to stymie corruption, and in a more general sense of the bankruptcy of the Ukrainian nationalist rhetoric that ascribes its – their – corruption to being under Soviet/Russian influence.

That did not, however, stop the Maidan activists from displaying the golden loaf on the commercial excursion trips to Mezhigorye that sprung up after the coup.

“We have long had a clay duplicate of the “golden loaf”… we made many souvenir copies for 200 grivna each. You can buy them,” they told a Russian newspaper.

This, too, is pretty symbolic.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Corruption, Ukraine 
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  1. AP says:

    And so the golden loaf continues to be symbolic – now, of the utter inability of the Poroshenko regime to stymie corruption, and in a more general sense of the bankruptcy of the Ukrainian nationalist rhetoric that ascribes its – their – corruption to being under Soviet/Russian influence.

    You may right about post-Revolution corruption, but it is still very early to draw conclusions, as new reforms were only passed a couple of months go. Numerous public exposure of corruption after Yanukovich’s downfall is at least a good sign. Within Ukraine Donbas was more corrupt than other regions and Yanukovch was more corrupt than his corrupt predecessors, so some link to Soviet influence isn’t unreasonable.

  2. Dear Anatoly!
    Your post reminds me Saltykov-Shchedrin’s
    “добрые люди кровопролитиев от него ждали,
    а он Чижика съел!”,

    http://az.lib.ru/s/saltykow_m_e/text_0460.shtml

    We expect you to give a serious analysis of serious problems,
    and you instead discuss stolen golden loaf.

    AK: Valid criticism. I agree that in the overall scheme of things it is pretty minor, except insofar as it demonstrates a bigger point. But there’ll be more serious and indepth material soon, I’m just now writing a substantial post on Crimea.

    • Replies: @Glossy
    I don't think it's a trivial issue. The Maidanites said that they overthrew Yanukovich to fight corruption. All color revolutionaries claim that they're fighting corruption. These claims are generally false. The stolen loaf story illustrates this falseness in a funny way. It's indicative of a wider truth.
    , @Glossy
    I’m just now writing a substantial post on Crimea.

    I just saw a news item about the new, post-referendum Crimean Census. 68% of Crimeans self-identified as Russians, 15.7% as Ukrainians. In 2001 58.5% identified as Russians, 24% as Ukrainians. In 1989 67% identified as Russians, 25.8% as Ukrainians. The direction of the change between 2001 and 2015 was predictable. Identity is influenced by politics, public mood, prestige, especially if the categories are so close to each other to begin with. Russian identity in the Crimea recovered to its 1989 level, Ukrainian identity seriously declined. Since the junta controls the media on its territory, the opposite effect must have happened there. But the junta won't have any money for censuses in the foreseeable future, so if it holds on to power we will not know the size of the swing for decades.
  3. ,

    Numerous public exposure of corruption after Yanukovich’s downfall is at least a good sign.

    Well, naturally. Space has to be made for the new people at the trough.

    Within Ukraine Donbas was more corrupt than other regions and Yanukovch was more corrupt than his corrupt predecessors, so some link to Soviet influence isn’t unreasonable.

    Even the late Brezhnev era USSR was far less corrupt than Ukraine (or Russia) today.

    Belarus, the most “Soviet” of the ex-Soviet Slavic republics, is far less corrupt than Russia. Ukraine is arguably more corrupt than Russia, despite spending 2005-2010 and 2014+ under stridently Westernizing regimes.

    Sure, there was some Soviet influence, but only insofar as it was related to the particular way Soviet structures were disintegrated to create oligarchies.

    • Replies: @AP

    Even the late Brezhnev era USSR was far less corrupt than Ukraine (or Russia) today.

    Belarus, the most “Soviet” of the ex-Soviet Slavic republics, is far less corrupt than Russia
     
    True. I think the link between corruption and the Soviet legacy is that the Soviet legacy bred a certain cynicism towards capitalism and the "free market" in such a way that the removal of Soviet-era constraints led to epic corruption. This is why, seemingly paradoxically, a place such as Belarus in which the Soviet system remained more intact is much less corrupt than other places such as Russia and Ukraine where the post-Soviet elites were less constrained and more free to pursue their Soviet-taught version of "capitalism."

    But the USSR was more corrupt than the eastern bloc states (who were more corrupt than the West), and within Ukraine the west seems less corrupt than the east. Lviv didn't go through a period of contract killings and car bombs in the 90's.

    Ukraine is arguably more corrupt than Russia, despite spending 2005-2010 and 2014+ under stridently Westernizing regimes.
     
    I would say that Ukraine is not arguably, but certainly, more corrupt than Russia. There was much less of a patriotic core among its inherited Soviet-era managarial elite.

    Ukraine was somewhat less corrupt in 2005-2010 than afterwards. It must be remembered that Yushchenko had much less authority than Poroshenko does (there was a time when Yushchenko's PM was Yanukovich). The post-Yanukovich government is just starting; reforms were passed quite recently. I'm not going to predict that Ukraine's corruption will improve, I'm just saying it's too early to tell. Grounds for optimism are that the West seems to be more serious about reforms, and Ukraine seems to have less of an option of ignoring the West and getting handouts from Russia (which was more forgiving of corruption, as long as Ukraine pursued friendly policies). The war had burned that bridge with the Ukrainian public. The Ukrainian elite may finally be cornered now, and forced to behave differently. * A different path from the one the Russia elite have been forced onto by Putin (to an extent).

    * Yes, I know, this is optimistic and far from a certain thing. We'll know better in a year or so.
  4. @Immigrant from former USSR
    Dear Anatoly!
    Your post reminds me Saltykov-Shchedrin's
    "добрые люди кровопролитиев от него ждали,
    а он Чижика съел!",
    http://az.lib.ru/s/saltykow_m_e/text_0460.shtml
    We expect you to give a serious analysis of serious problems,
    and you instead discuss stolen golden loaf.

    AK: Valid criticism. I agree that in the overall scheme of things it is pretty minor, except insofar as it demonstrates a bigger point. But there'll be more serious and indepth material soon, I'm just now writing a substantial post on Crimea.

    I don’t think it’s a trivial issue. The Maidanites said that they overthrew Yanukovich to fight corruption. All color revolutionaries claim that they’re fighting corruption. These claims are generally false. The stolen loaf story illustrates this falseness in a funny way. It’s indicative of a wider truth.

    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR
    Thank you, Anatoly, and thank you, Glossy, for your reaction. Is there still anybody, who do not understand the falsity of the "claim that they’re fighting corruption"?
    Judging from the list of new top leaders, it is a struggle of one group of oligarchs against the other. Their goals are much larger than golden loaf, even if it were "body gold" (and not just gold-plated, as it probably was.)
    [Judging from the photograph, it is roughly half a cylinder with the length about 22 cm and cylinder's diameter about 9 cm, thus volume = 0.5*22*pi*(9/2)^2 = 669 cm^3;
    at specific weight of fresh wet bread about 0.8 g/cm^3 it would be indeed about 1/2 of a kilogram loaf of bread, but
    at specific weight of gold 19.3 g/cm^3 the body gold would weight 13.3 kg, i.e. about 30 pounds - very inconvenient paper-press without a handle, with the price tag about $ 400,000.]
    I will not add anything about external influences.
    , @David
    It reminds me of the FDR bible "going missing" for a few hours after Bill De Blasio's swearing in.

    http://nypost.com/2014/01/01/historic-bible-goes-missing-after-de-blasio-swearing-in/
  5. @Glossy
    I don't think it's a trivial issue. The Maidanites said that they overthrew Yanukovich to fight corruption. All color revolutionaries claim that they're fighting corruption. These claims are generally false. The stolen loaf story illustrates this falseness in a funny way. It's indicative of a wider truth.

    Thank you, Anatoly, and thank you, Glossy, for your reaction. Is there still anybody, who do not understand the falsity of the “claim that they’re fighting corruption”?
    Judging from the list of new top leaders, it is a struggle of one group of oligarchs against the other. Their goals are much larger than golden loaf, even if it were “body gold” (and not just gold-plated, as it probably was.)
    [Judging from the photograph, it is roughly half a cylinder with the length about 22 cm and cylinder's diameter about 9 cm, thus volume = 0.5*22*pi*(9/2)^2 = 669 cm^3;
    at specific weight of fresh wet bread about 0.8 g/cm^3 it would be indeed about 1/2 of a kilogram loaf of bread, but
    at specific weight of gold 19.3 g/cm^3 the body gold would weight 13.3 kg, i.e. about 30 pounds - very inconvenient paper-press without a handle, with the price tag about $ 400,000.]
    I will not add anything about external influences.

    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR
    "Золотой батон — ювелирное пресс-папье весом два килограмма", from http://lenta.ru/news/2015/04/15/gold/
    Translation: Golden loaf --- product of jewelry, paper-press, weight 2 kilograms, i.e about 4.4 pounds.
  6. @Anatoly Karlin
    @AP,

    Numerous public exposure of corruption after Yanukovich’s downfall is at least a good sign.
     
    Well, naturally. Space has to be made for the new people at the trough.

    Within Ukraine Donbas was more corrupt than other regions and Yanukovch was more corrupt than his corrupt predecessors, so some link to Soviet influence isn’t unreasonable.
     
    Even the late Brezhnev era USSR was far less corrupt than Ukraine (or Russia) today.

    Belarus, the most "Soviet" of the ex-Soviet Slavic republics, is far less corrupt than Russia. Ukraine is arguably more corrupt than Russia, despite spending 2005-2010 and 2014+ under stridently Westernizing regimes.

    Sure, there was some Soviet influence, but only insofar as it was related to the particular way Soviet structures were disintegrated to create oligarchies.

    Even the late Brezhnev era USSR was far less corrupt than Ukraine (or Russia) today.

    Belarus, the most “Soviet” of the ex-Soviet Slavic republics, is far less corrupt than Russia

    True. I think the link between corruption and the Soviet legacy is that the Soviet legacy bred a certain cynicism towards capitalism and the “free market” in such a way that the removal of Soviet-era constraints led to epic corruption. This is why, seemingly paradoxically, a place such as Belarus in which the Soviet system remained more intact is much less corrupt than other places such as Russia and Ukraine where the post-Soviet elites were less constrained and more free to pursue their Soviet-taught version of “capitalism.”

    But the USSR was more corrupt than the eastern bloc states (who were more corrupt than the West), and within Ukraine the west seems less corrupt than the east. Lviv didn’t go through a period of contract killings and car bombs in the 90′s.

    Ukraine is arguably more corrupt than Russia, despite spending 2005-2010 and 2014+ under stridently Westernizing regimes.

    I would say that Ukraine is not arguably, but certainly, more corrupt than Russia. There was much less of a patriotic core among its inherited Soviet-era managarial elite.

    Ukraine was somewhat less corrupt in 2005-2010 than afterwards. It must be remembered that Yushchenko had much less authority than Poroshenko does (there was a time when Yushchenko’s PM was Yanukovich). The post-Yanukovich government is just starting; reforms were passed quite recently. I’m not going to predict that Ukraine’s corruption will improve, I’m just saying it’s too early to tell. Grounds for optimism are that the West seems to be more serious about reforms, and Ukraine seems to have less of an option of ignoring the West and getting handouts from Russia (which was more forgiving of corruption, as long as Ukraine pursued friendly policies). The war had burned that bridge with the Ukrainian public. The Ukrainian elite may finally be cornered now, and forced to behave differently. * A different path from the one the Russia elite have been forced onto by Putin (to an extent).

    * Yes, I know, this is optimistic and far from a certain thing. We’ll know better in a year or so.

    • Replies: @Glossy
    There was no Soviet-taught version of capitalism. Brezhnev's USSR was not more corrupt than the West. You haven't proposed a plausible mechanism for how the anti-capitalist, relatively uncorrupt USSR could make the capitalists who hate it more corrupt than itself or than the modern statists who love it. You appear to not know how the USSR's guilt in this matter would actually, physically work, you just know that it's guilty.
  7. @AP

    Even the late Brezhnev era USSR was far less corrupt than Ukraine (or Russia) today.

    Belarus, the most “Soviet” of the ex-Soviet Slavic republics, is far less corrupt than Russia
     
    True. I think the link between corruption and the Soviet legacy is that the Soviet legacy bred a certain cynicism towards capitalism and the "free market" in such a way that the removal of Soviet-era constraints led to epic corruption. This is why, seemingly paradoxically, a place such as Belarus in which the Soviet system remained more intact is much less corrupt than other places such as Russia and Ukraine where the post-Soviet elites were less constrained and more free to pursue their Soviet-taught version of "capitalism."

    But the USSR was more corrupt than the eastern bloc states (who were more corrupt than the West), and within Ukraine the west seems less corrupt than the east. Lviv didn't go through a period of contract killings and car bombs in the 90's.

    Ukraine is arguably more corrupt than Russia, despite spending 2005-2010 and 2014+ under stridently Westernizing regimes.
     
    I would say that Ukraine is not arguably, but certainly, more corrupt than Russia. There was much less of a patriotic core among its inherited Soviet-era managarial elite.

    Ukraine was somewhat less corrupt in 2005-2010 than afterwards. It must be remembered that Yushchenko had much less authority than Poroshenko does (there was a time when Yushchenko's PM was Yanukovich). The post-Yanukovich government is just starting; reforms were passed quite recently. I'm not going to predict that Ukraine's corruption will improve, I'm just saying it's too early to tell. Grounds for optimism are that the West seems to be more serious about reforms, and Ukraine seems to have less of an option of ignoring the West and getting handouts from Russia (which was more forgiving of corruption, as long as Ukraine pursued friendly policies). The war had burned that bridge with the Ukrainian public. The Ukrainian elite may finally be cornered now, and forced to behave differently. * A different path from the one the Russia elite have been forced onto by Putin (to an extent).

    * Yes, I know, this is optimistic and far from a certain thing. We'll know better in a year or so.

    There was no Soviet-taught version of capitalism. Brezhnev’s USSR was not more corrupt than the West. You haven’t proposed a plausible mechanism for how the anti-capitalist, relatively uncorrupt USSR could make the capitalists who hate it more corrupt than itself or than the modern statists who love it. You appear to not know how the USSR’s guilt in this matter would actually, physically work, you just know that it’s guilty.

  8. In America, which I know better than other Western countries, most of the corruption that occurs is legal. It’s simply legal for powerful interests to pay politicians money. They do that through campaign contributions and by hiring them to highly-paid sinecures after they retire. The sums involved and the amount of influence exerted on public policy are stratospheric compared to old Soviet corruption.

    The fact that it’s legal doesn’t make it less corrupt. If cocaine is legalized tomorrow, the official crime rate will fall, but the death rate and the stroke rate (which are kind of more important) will rise.

    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR
    Agreed.
  9. @Glossy
    In America, which I know better than other Western countries, most of the corruption that occurs is legal. It's simply legal for powerful interests to pay politicians money. They do that through campaign contributions and by hiring them to highly-paid sinecures after they retire. The sums involved and the amount of influence exerted on public policy are stratospheric compared to old Soviet corruption.

    The fact that it's legal doesn't make it less corrupt. If cocaine is legalized tomorrow, the official crime rate will fall, but the death rate and the stroke rate (which are kind of more important) will rise.

    Agreed.

  10. @Immigrant from former USSR
    Dear Anatoly!
    Your post reminds me Saltykov-Shchedrin's
    "добрые люди кровопролитиев от него ждали,
    а он Чижика съел!",
    http://az.lib.ru/s/saltykow_m_e/text_0460.shtml
    We expect you to give a serious analysis of serious problems,
    and you instead discuss stolen golden loaf.

    AK: Valid criticism. I agree that in the overall scheme of things it is pretty minor, except insofar as it demonstrates a bigger point. But there'll be more serious and indepth material soon, I'm just now writing a substantial post on Crimea.

    I’m just now writing a substantial post on Crimea.

    I just saw a news item about the new, post-referendum Crimean Census. 68% of Crimeans self-identified as Russians, 15.7% as Ukrainians. In 2001 58.5% identified as Russians, 24% as Ukrainians. In 1989 67% identified as Russians, 25.8% as Ukrainians. The direction of the change between 2001 and 2015 was predictable. Identity is influenced by politics, public mood, prestige, especially if the categories are so close to each other to begin with. Russian identity in the Crimea recovered to its 1989 level, Ukrainian identity seriously declined. Since the junta controls the media on its territory, the opposite effect must have happened there. But the junta won’t have any money for censuses in the foreseeable future, so if it holds on to power we will not know the size of the swing for decades.

  11. It’s been 13 months since Yanukovych’s ouster already and Ukraine is still yet to be completely transformed. I’m telling you, these people are sick.

  12. Oligarch vs. Oligarch, Mad Magazine style:

    ” A raid by a group of armed men in combat fatigues on a state-owned oil company in the Ukrainian capital Kiev thrust banking billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky into the spotlight. Two parliamentary deputies accused Kolomoisky of sending the masked men into the offices of UkrTransNafta late on Thursday night after it was announced that its chairman, an ally of the 52-year-old oligarch, had been sacked. “I came to free the building from Russian saboteurs,” he could be heard saying on a YouTube video clip in which he swore several times at reporters. The affair turned a spotlight on the role of Ukraine’s super-rich and the future of their business empires as the country grapples with an economic crisis and a separatist war. It risks embarrassing President Petro Poroshenko, who himself built a billion-dollar empire in the confectionery business and who has been bolstered by support from Kolomoisky in the conflict with rebels in eastern Ukraine.”

  13. When western carpetbaggers opportunistically descended upon Moscow, with the pliable westward-looking puppet Yeltsin installed, the result was epidemic looting and corruption, and the creation of the very oligarchy now vying among themselves for the privilege of doing the same in Ukraine. The arrangement seems to be one of playing both those ends against the middle, with mutual profit-taking at the expense of ordinary Ukrainians.

  14. @Glossy
    I don't think it's a trivial issue. The Maidanites said that they overthrew Yanukovich to fight corruption. All color revolutionaries claim that they're fighting corruption. These claims are generally false. The stolen loaf story illustrates this falseness in a funny way. It's indicative of a wider truth.

    It reminds me of the FDR bible “going missing” for a few hours after Bill De Blasio’s swearing in.

    http://nypost.com/2014/01/01/historic-bible-goes-missing-after-de-blasio-swearing-in/

  15. @Immigrant from former USSR
    Thank you, Anatoly, and thank you, Glossy, for your reaction. Is there still anybody, who do not understand the falsity of the "claim that they’re fighting corruption"?
    Judging from the list of new top leaders, it is a struggle of one group of oligarchs against the other. Their goals are much larger than golden loaf, even if it were "body gold" (and not just gold-plated, as it probably was.)
    [Judging from the photograph, it is roughly half a cylinder with the length about 22 cm and cylinder's diameter about 9 cm, thus volume = 0.5*22*pi*(9/2)^2 = 669 cm^3;
    at specific weight of fresh wet bread about 0.8 g/cm^3 it would be indeed about 1/2 of a kilogram loaf of bread, but
    at specific weight of gold 19.3 g/cm^3 the body gold would weight 13.3 kg, i.e. about 30 pounds - very inconvenient paper-press without a handle, with the price tag about $ 400,000.]
    I will not add anything about external influences.

    “Золотой батон — ювелирное пресс-папье весом два килограмма”, from http://lenta.ru/news/2015/04/15/gold/
    Translation: Golden loaf — product of jewelry, paper-press, weight 2 kilograms, i.e about 4.4 pounds.

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