As head of Ukraine’s national bank Yushchenko was involved in a huge scandal involving falsification of the amount of foreign exchange reserves held by Ukraine in order to deceive the International Monetary Fund into loaning around a half a billion dollars in credit that they would otherwise not have received. Yushchenko survived the political scandal because he was not seen as a personal beneficiary of the scam unlike some other government officials (Raimondo, 2004). When the scandal came to light the then Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma had to submit to an audit carried out by the international auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. According to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers audit report, the management of the National Bank of Ukraine (headed by Yushchenko) engaged in systematic deception to bilk the IMF of funds:
“By giving a misleading impression of the size of Ukraine’s reserves, the NBU’s reserve management practices may have allowed Ukraine to receive as many as three disbursements under the stand-by arrangement in effect at that time that it might not otherwise have been able to obtain” (IMF, 2000)
“The three disbursements in question that would have been affected by the transactions examined in the PwC report were based on October, November, and December 1997 figures. They total SDR 145 million (about US$200 million).” (IMF, 2000)
The other main player in the Orange Revolution was Yulia Timoshenko. During the nineties, as the head of the gas giant United Energy Systems of Ukraine, Timoshenko benefited greatly from a client patron relationship with the corrupt Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, acquiring a huge personal fortune (Rachkevych, 2008). From 1999 – 2001, Timoshenko was the energy oligarch of Ukraine (the Deputy Prime Minister for Fuel and Energy) under the Prime Ministership of Viktor Yushchenko, at the fall of Yushchenko’s government, her term in office ended with a stint in jail on charges of corruption. (Sustar, 2004). The case against her was eventually dropped.
Chad Nagle, one of the international observers in the first and second rounds of the Ukrainian elections reported that Viktor Yanukovych was well liked in the rural areas of Ukraine whereas enthusiastic support for Yushchenko was only visible in the capital Kiev and the sparsely inhabited areas of Northwestern Ukraine (Nagle, 2004). Moreover 21% of the Ukrainian population is ethnically Russian and favor closer ties with Russia (Karatnycky, 2005). The movement that brought on the Orange Revolution was not entirely an indigenous Ukrainian phenomenon, the US government funneled more then 65 million dollars to the revolutionaries through Non Governmental Organizations such as the Eurasia Foundation (Traynor, 2004).
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